Sports Picks For Sale - Wayne Root

Hot Streaks and Achievements

  • MLB DIAMOND GEM PLAYS ARE 15-3 THRU (6-17); 83%
  • BE SURE TO GET A SUBSCRIPTION...MLB THRU (6-17) IS 23-14; 62% IS DECENT FOR A 37 GAME SAMPLE
  • WE FINISHED THE NBA FINALS SIDES AT 4-1; 80%

Biography

Wayne Root launched his career on FNN, and then starred on Proline and The Winning Edge TV shows to build the biggest brand in sports handicapping.

Active since:  1985

Location:  Las Vegas, NV

Wayne Root started his career at age 16 when the media dubbed him "The Betting Whizkid" and "the next Jimmy the Greek."  After graduating from prestigious Ivy League Columbia University, Wayne became the sports gaming expert on NBC Radio New York and NBC Radio Chicago.  Soon he was predicting NFL point spread winners on over 100 NBC Source Radio stations nationwide.  By age 27, Wayne was Jimmy “the Greek's” television partner on Financial News Network (now known as CNBC). ONLY IN AMERICA!  Wayne served as FNN’s Oddsmaker, NFL Analyst and host of its pregame and postgame football shows, including FNN ZoneHuddle Up, Fantasy Zone, and The Fan Speaks Out.  He was also its anchorman for sports scores and updates.

Following FNN, Wayne was the star and rainmaker of the sports handicapping pregame show Proline on USA TV Network for 10 years. Wayne had the most expensive 900 (pay-per-call) numbers in U.S. telemarketing history:  $50 and $100 per call for his sports betting advice.  Millions of sports gamblers called for Wayne’s famous advice. 
 
Wayne’s national TV football pregame show, The Winning Edge aired from 2000 to 2009 on popular national television networks such as Fox Sports Net, Comcast Sports Net, Superstation WGN, Discovery and Spike TV. 
 
Wayne has been profiled by the biggest media in the world, including CNBC, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Equities, Worth, Success, Financial Times and Robb Report
 
Wayne literally “wrote the book" on sports gambling — three books to be exact...
 
ROOT on Risk: Betting to Win on Sports
The Zen of Gambling
The King of Vegas' Guide to Gambling
 
Wayne also co-created, co-executive produced and co-hosted a gambling reality TV show on Spike TV (King of Vegas).

In 2006, Wayne became the only Vegas oddsmaker or sports handicapper ever awarded a star on the Las Vegas Walk of Stars.  The Governor of Nevada presented Wayne's star at the ceremony.  It was named "Wayne Root Day" in the state of Nevada and Clark County (the city of Las Vegas).  Wayne's 180-pound granite star sits in the sidewalk on Las Vegas Blvd along with Vegas legends like Elvis Presley, Liberace, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Siegfield & Roy. 

Some recent highlights:

2020 January and February college basketball Pinnacles 18-8 (70%)
2019 MLB finished in top 5 in USA 
2019 NBA Playoffs 28-13 (68%)
2018 NFL Root Trust won 12 of 17 weeks (71%)
2018 MLB finished in top 8 in USA
2017 March Madness went 71% 

Betting NFL Futures for the 2025 Super Bowl

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

NFL FUTURES RUNDOWN  Want to wager on your team to win the Super Bowl? To make the playoffs? To finish with a certain number of victories? You can do all that—and much more—with NFL futures. NFL futures betting allows sports bettors to wager on long-term outcomes of the NFL season before and during the course of the season. This popular method of betting on sports typically includes predictions on team performances, potential division champions, conference winners, the Super Bowl champions and other popular futures markets. BETTING NFL FUTURES When it comes to betting NFL futures, future bets offer an exciting opportunity to predict outcomes well in advance. Oddsmakers set NFL futures odds early in the summer and give constant updates thru preseason, and these odds change throughout the regular season based on team performances.  Currently, these are the top four listed to win the 2025 Superbowl:Kansas City +650San Francisco +650Baltimore +1100Detroit + 1300Every team has a price. And team prices vary depending on where you bet.  2023 conference champions have strangleholds on their respective divisions: The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers hold commanding positions over their divisions, with oddsmakers projecting more than a 70% implied probability for each to be crowned division champs in 2024. MONEY BEING TIED UP Money is tied up for a long time – When you make a futures bet you commit your money until the bet is resolved – often weeks or months. If that money were in your bankroll you could bet it several times over, and as long as you are a long term winning bettor you would have an expectation to produce profit with those bets. Since the money is tied up, though, it is exposed to risk while not earning any return. That means that there is an opportunity cost involved in future bets – you need to consider not just the return on the bet you are making, but also the lost potential return from the bets you could make if you weren’t invested in the futures bet. This opportunity cost means that you need to have an even higher payoff on your futures bet to make it worthwhile. LOCK IN LINE PRICES One of the most engaging aspects of NFL futures is the opportunity to secure potentially high payouts. The odds are set well in advance of the season’s start and as variables change — such as player injuries, trades and winning streaks — so too do the odds. This dynamic nature keeps bettors invested throughout the season, providing ongoing engagement with each shift in the competitive landscape. ARE FUTURE BETS WISE? Future bets – a bet on whether a team is going to win a league or event that is usually going to be held well in the future – are something that books absolutely love to post and take action on. There’s a pretty simple reason for that – they are mostly horrible bets, so the books make a killing on them. They are exposed to some risk if a longshot comes through at a huge price, but that doesn’t often happen. Most of the time they get to collect a large amount of money, use it as they want for months until the outcome of the bet is determined, and then pay out far less than they brought in. It really couldn’t be better for them. NFL SUPER BOWL FUTURE ODDS NFL Super Bowl futures odds are a cornerstone of sports betting, allowing bettors to place wagers on which team they believe will win the most highly-anticipated sporting event in the United States, the Super Bowl. Futures betting odds are available year-round from top betting sites and fluctuate based on team performances, player injuries, trades and public betting trends. Super Bowl futures odds offer a unique opportunity for bettors to lock in prices on a team’s chance to win the championship well before the event occurs. This common futures bet type requires not just a passion for football but a strategic approach to understanding the dynamics of the NFL. WHAT INFLUENCES FUTURE ODDS Team Performance: Regular season and playoff performances give a clear indication of a team’s potential to compete for the championship. Player Impact: The health and performance of key players can significantly alter a team’s odds. For instance, the injury or return of a star quarterback like Patrick Mahomes might lead to dramatic changes in odds. Off-season Moves: Trades and free agency acquisitions can boost a team’s odds if they are perceived to strengthen the roster. The acquisition of a high-impact player such as Aaron Rodgers by the Denver Broncos serves as a prime example.  Historical Trends: Some teams, like the New England Patriots, have a track record of performing well under pressure and in playoff scenarios, which can sway the odds in their favor. STAY INFORMED  Bettors need to stay informed about NFL developments throughout the season and the offseason to make the most of Super Bowl futures. This form of betting is not only about predicting the winner but also about knowing when to place a bet based on value odds. WHEN TO MAKE FUTURES BET Most bettors place NFL futures wagers before the start of the regular season, but that’s certainly not required. In fact, most futures markets remain open at NFL betting sites throughout the entire season, with sportsbooks constantly adjusting odds based on player and/or team performances, significant injuries, trades and betting liability. THINK LIKE A SHARP To kickstart your thinking for the season – I’ve talked to a few guys who like to study futures odds as a way to start their preparations for the upcoming season. The odds give them a basic indication of what oddsmakers think of the coming season, and by doing their own research they can find the situations where they agree with the oddsmakers, and those where they differ significantly. The areas where they differ need to be researched more, but they could represent a nice value. Casual bettors often are drawn to Super Bowl futures so they can bet on their favorite team and turn a tidy profit if that team caps a magical season with a championship. BETTING LIKE A SHARP Sharp bettors get involved in the Super Bowl futures market for one reason: value. If they believe strongly that oddsmakers are selling particular teams short, savvy bettors will pounce on them. For much of the 2023-24 season, the San Francisco 49ers were favored to win the Super Bowl, especially when the Kansas City Chiefs slumped during the second half of the season. Bettors who jumped on them late in the year got better odds than you would have gotten earlier in the season. SEASON WIN TOTALS Season win totals are a popular type of NFL futures betting where bettors predict the total number of wins a team will secure during their regular season games. Sportsbooks set an over/under on wins for each team and bettors can wager whether a team will win more (over) or fewer (under) games than the listed total. This form of betting requires a deep understanding of each team’s strengths, weaknesses and potential for the upcoming season. Factors such as the difficulty of the team’s schedule, off-season roster changes, injuries and historical performance play critical roles in influencing these decisions. ANALYSIS OF LAST YEAR For bettors, analyzing team performance trends from previous seasons can be invaluable. Consideration of a team’s draft picks and any changes in coaching staff can also provide insights into potential improvements or declines in team performance.  Trends of note: The last 11 Super Bowl winners have won at least 11 regular season games, including the defending champion Chiefs, who went 11-6 in 2023. Think Kansas City can win its third straight Super Bowl in 2025? History suggests it’s unlikely, as no NFL team has ever won three consecutive Super Bowls. It’s also probably unwise to make a Super Bowl futures bet on a team that wasn’t very good last season. Since the 2009 campaign, only the Philadelphia Eagles (2017) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2020) hoisted the Lombardi Trophy after winning fewer than 10 games the previous season (both went 7-9). KEEP IT INTERESTING  There’s nothing wrong with putting a few bucks down to give yourself a rooting interest for the season, or to back your favorite boyhood squad. If you are doing this with a significant portion of your bankroll then you might be an idiot, but if the amounts are small then fun is as good a reason as any. REMEMBER THIS ABOUT BETTING FUTURES The risk is massive and almost impossible to calculate – Let’s say you are going to bet on NFL futures right now. You need to factor in several things that you can’t really know about with any certainty – who is going to start in any open positions, how are the rookies and the free agents going to fit in, how are any new coaches going to work out, how are the teams your team is playing looking, who is going to get hurt on your team and for how long, and on and on and on and on. Any amount of uncertainty increases the risk on a bet, and therefore increases the amount of return you require to compensate for that risk. Because of the complexity of risk assessment it is incredibly easy to overestimate your edge in futures bets.

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How to Determine the Difference Between Sharp Action and Public

Monday, May 27, 2024

The Market Place:Like any marketplace, a buyer and seller agree on a price - in this case a line.  But knowing the line is only half the picture. Understanding the forces affecting line' movement (the volume of bets, percentage of bets on the home team and the percentage of bets on the away team) is essential in determining the true value of any line. We always check this data. That begins our public money vs sharp action analysis. Ticket percentage(s):Ticket percentage does not consider the amount risked on each ticket – it just counts each bet placed. If we compare the bet percentage and money percentage of the same team (for the same bet type), you’ll notice the sharp action if the figures aren’t similar.Public Money Ticket(s):From October through June, bettors and fans alike will have NBA basketball on their televisions almost every evening. With so many games available to bet on – how should you pick what to bet. Look at the money and bet-percentage splits, of course. This data is provided to you directly from sportsbooks ahead of games each night during the season so you can see where both the public money and percentage of tickets are concentrated for each game. This is our start to “follow the money”.What signals Sharp Action?A noticeable difference between a team’s bet and money percentages can help signal sharp action. In order to calculate this, just subtract their bet percentage from their money percentage. If the result is a positive number, you’ve got larger bets being placed on this team. If the result is a negative number, you’ve got larger bets being placed on the other team.While that’s not a 100% accurate formula to determine the sharp action, it can give you a general idea of where the money is.Money Percentage(s):Money percentages – or percent of the handle – refers to the total amount of money wagered on an event, often broken down by bet type.The money percentage pools all the money wagered on any game together, first sorting it by the type of bet (moneyline, spread, or total points scored), and then breaks down what percentage of the handle is bet on each side.Whichever side the handle is weighted to can signal the sharp action (if the amount of tickets on that side are low), or if that side is being heavily bet by the public (if the ticket percentage is high).Bet Percentage(s):Bet percentages, meanwhile, are frequently referred to as “% of tickets” or “% of bets”. Tickets are just a term used for all the bets placed.To get the bet percentage, you look at all the bets placed (regardless of the amount of money risked on each one), again, sorting first by the type of bet, and then look at the percentage of tickets on each side of the game.This can help identify which side both high-stakes and low-stakes players are trending towards. Naturally, this works for football and basketball. Get that Information:Many sites will charge you to access this information, but some free options are available if you dig deep enough. Homework is mandatory for all those that are successful. Don’t be that “other” guy. Do the work or follow us. Good Luck,Wayne Allyn Root

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Five Tips for Betting on Major League Baseball

Sunday, Apr 21, 2024

Handicapping MLB can be extremely profitable. It’s basically, pick the winner. There’s no point spread per se and finding underdogs gives the smart handicappers extra profits. What could be better than that?Streaky Teams and PitchersAs a baseball handicapper there is nothing that annoys me more than streaky pitchers. They can look for a long time like they can’t possible lose, and then before you know it – and for seemingly no reason – they can forget how to pitch for several games in a row. I place more emphasis on streaky teams than pitching unless I have a bad pitcher starting and his team is on an 1-7 streak. It can be tough to figure out when a good period is going to start or end, and you can lose some serious cash trying to pick when that turn might come. You don’t want to avoid streaky pitchers entirely, of course, because when they are losing or winning several in a row you can really pay off. Ignoring Matchups and Special Circumstances One would have to be extremely lazy to ignore any matchup information and special circumstances that surround the current game. Not only do I look at home/away information, I consider righty vs lefty pitching and night vs daytime games. A pitcher’s effectiveness is determined to a large extent by the baseball team he is pitching against. Casual MLB bettors will address this in a very basic way – by assuming that a pitcher will struggle more against a very good hitting team than against a weak bunch of bats, for example. You need to go further than that, though. Sometimes the best pitcher could struggle against the weakest of teams if the team features a lot of lefties and he loses effectiveness against lefties, or if they are contact hitters and he is better against power hitters. A fly ball pitcher could do better playing in a big ballpark than a small one. In your baseball handicapping, you’ll need to look well beyond surface matchups to identify situations that actually significantly impact what is likely to happen. Does Location Matter?Home vs Away Games etc.The schedule might not be an issue because of who he is playing against, but because of where he is playing. Some pitchers are unhittable at home but terrible on the road, or vice versa. This can especially be an issue if the home field is a particularly generous park for pitchers. I looked at a pitcher today that had a huge difference in their dichotomy.  He has a 1.69 era at home but a 5.63 era on the road. His overall era is 3.76 so depending on where he’s pitching I can put a proper value on the game. Before you get too excited or frustrated about a streak, then, spend time looking at where he has been pitching lately, and compare his road and home key stats. Handicapping Pitchers ERA ERA is one of those statistics that gets a whole lot of coverage. It’s easy to understand and easy to calculate so the media relies on it heavily, and the public looks at it as a stronger indicator than it really is. There are several problems with ERA that make it a less meaningful stat for handicappers, though. The biggest problem is that there are a wide range of factors that are totally beyond a pitchers control that can have an affect on the pitcher’s ERA. A guy will likely have a better ERA over a short period if he faces particularly weak teams than if he had faced particularly tough teams, so he is at the whim of the schedule maker. This can particularly be a problem early in the season when the sample size is small. A pitcher can also be penalized by playing in front of a weak defense. In short, ERA is not a strong indicator of the actual performance of the pitcher, and better stats should be sought out by bettors who want to win.Zeroing in on K/BBStrikeouts are sexy…but not the only stat I look at first. I’m more interested in the strikeouts to walks ratio. If they show 65K’s but also 46 bb’s, then I will take a pass as the walks are more of a consideration than the strikeouts. Everyone loves a power pitcher who can blow the ball past guys, and a game full of big strikeouts is always going to get coverage. By themselves, though, strikeouts aren’t particularly meaningful for handicappers. A strikeout is useful for a pitcher, but more strikeouts don’t necessarily indicate a better pitcher. In so cases a pitcher is sacrificing other aspects of his game in order to get more strikeouts. Instead of allowing themselves to be seduced by strikeouts smart bettors know that it’s more important to look at Ks in ways that indicate how effective a pitcher really is – like K:BB ratio for example.Good Luck and Remember:Let me pinch hit for you for more information, more stats, trends and angles with proper research and analysis resulting in more winners. Baseball is a GAME OF MORE!

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The 2024 NBA Playoffs Are Here

Wednesday, Apr 17, 2024

THE BETTING IS JUST BEGINNING   The NBA Playoffs are here and the betting is just beginning with all the games being televised.  TRENDS I WORK WITH Here’s one trend I like to work with. Remember that trends are not automatic bets but rather unique guidelines for that night’s game. You don’t have time to feel sorry for yourself in the NBA playoffs. It’s fast action and moves from day to day. One has to be prepared.  BOUNCE BACK GAMES Do teams historically tend to bounce back in their next game after getting embarrassed against the spread (ATS)? The short answer is yes! That fits perfectly with my contrarian approach to sports betting. I like to go against the grain because that’s where we find good value wagers. In this case, if a team does badly in a given game I would expect most of the public to bet AGAINST them in the following match of the series. The public almost always remembers what they just watched. That creates an imprint in their brain and is difficult to go against it.  That forces sportsbooks to adjust their odds and it creates good opportunities for contrarians like us!Obviously, as a professional gambler, I need data to back up my intuitions. Like I stated above, I start with this as a guideline.  Here are a few more Trends that I think are Worthy of Consideration.  More specifically, teams that have lost the past game by 12.5+ points ATS hold a 271-213 record ATS: that’s a 56% success rate and a 9.2% ROI (Return on Investment)! If it got destroyed by 22.5+ points ATS, you get a 67-45 record (59.8% success rate, 16.7% ROI). That’s an incredible betting angle, isn’t it? ROI and Returns on Investment  Overall, teams losing against the spread on two straight occasions in a series have gone 278-251 (52.6%) in the following game since the 1990/91 playoffs. We observe a funny coincidence: the win percentage, 52.6%, is exactly the same as the one we obtained earlier when focusing on the previous game only (instead of the last two)!Now, if you impose the restriction of only betting teams that have lost by at least 4.5 points ATS in both of their previous meetings, you get a 141-106 record (57.1%). The corresponding ROI turns out to be 11.3% when betting at -105 lines. Here’s another lesson for the uninformed. Capping goes in streaks. Hitting 75% for a two week period is fantastic. But it also has a betting regression to the norm.   Injuries to Double and Triple check.  Injuries took a crazy toll on seeding this year, in one spot in particular: The 76ers. Philadelphia has the third-best odds to come out of the East — not just among these lower seeds, but among all teams — trailing only Milwaukee and Boston. The reason: Joel Embiid is back and looks … OK. Philadelphia in the No. 7 looks by far like the most likely lower-seeded team to make a deep run in a very shallow Eastern playoff pool. The West is a little more up in the air in that there is more than one team at the top and at the bottom that could represent the conference. Denver is the favorite, but Phoenix has the same odds to make the Finals as the 76ers and doesn’t have to go through the Play-In. The Lakers are always in the mix, but the No. 8 seed is a tougher road — hence their longer odds (the Heat at +1400 are in the same situation). Let’s have a great playoff(s) betting season. Good Luck;WAR

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Betting Over/Unders in Round 1 of March Madness

Wednesday, Mar 20, 2024

BETTING THE UNDERSThere are rumors about betting unders in the first rounds of the March Madness tournament and I don’t necessarily disagree. I offer a few ideas one must consider: HUGE ARENAS The totals seem to fly over throughout the tournament due to expert marksmanship from the three point line. However, look at the difference from playing in your 8000-10,000 seat home areas to the monstrous domes they play their first games in. Can you imagine any team shooting their 3-point shots and connecting on 35 to 40 percent? They might get accustomed to the cannaverousdomes by the second halves. It’s doubtful that teams will have success right off the bat. NERVES BY THE PLAYERSSecondly, the nerves the players are presented with are real. Their touch is affected. Their aim and launch is unstable or unsure. They will be instructed to slow the game down until their nerves are settled. BETTING FIRST HALF UNDERSI love betting every game’s first half UNDER the posted total. It’s my understanding that by betting the unders in every game the past 42 years, you have only two losing years. My experience in the past decade is extremely positive so I continue. WILL ALABAMA CONTINUE TO SCOREAlabama boasts the highest-scoring attack in the nation but is far from a shut-down squad on the defensive end. The combination surely appeals to NCAA Tournament first-round opponent Charleston, which has won 12 consecutive games. The scoreboard figures to get a lot of work on Friday when the fourth-seeded Crimson Tide (21-11) face the No. 13 seed Cougars (27-7) in a West Region first-round game at Spokane, Wash.COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON Both teams love to hoist 3-point shots. Charleston ranks third nationally with an average of 30.6 attempts per game, with the Crimson Tide fourth at 30.3. The Cougars aren’t in the same locale as Alabama’s 90.8 points-per-game average but are tied for 34th at 80.5.THE BAMA TOTAL IS 173.5The total is set at 173.5. Simple math has both teams needing to score 87 points each. Bama might hold up their end so consider if Charleston will falter a bit. Additionally , College of Charleston is playing an elite SEC program. That in itself, will cause many shots to fall wayside. With all the ingame betting, I would use that as my barometer in deciding to bet the over. ODDSMAKERS ADJUSTED LINEThe game can definitely go over but remember that with the pregame hype and rumors to bet the over in this game, the oddsmakers have taken note and made more adjustments. Again, that needs to be added to the above list to consider. Good Luck,Wayne Allyn Root

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Betting the Underdogs in March Madness

Wednesday, Mar 13, 2024

Ask yourself this question: Should you blindly bet all the underdogs in March Madness?The 2023 NCAA Tournament had a weird betting theme to it. We visualize upsets when looking at the bracket, and then we take them to the betting window.It was an exciting tournament but an unorthodox one to be sure. For the first time in NCAA Tournament history, there were no #1 seeds in the Elite 8 as the March Madness underdogs stole the show. And in a huge way!TRENDS?I see these types of trends a lot on sports betting social media that isn't Twitter — Now X, Instagram, TikTok, especially. "If you bet X in X event last year, you'd be up X units." But they usually fail to tell the whole story, or purposely narrow the sample size to sound interesting and profitable.So is betting underdogs to win outright in March Madness actually a good idea?Betting No. 15 and No. 16 seeds.Now, let’s look at the frequency of a No. 16 or No. 15 team upsetting a No. 1 or No. 2 seed.Since 1985, No. 1 seeds are 150-2 against No. 16 seeds, but the two upsets have both happened in the last six seasons. Maybe the transfer portal will make it even more advantageous this season. Virginia was upset by UMBC in 2018 – the first time a No. 16 seed beat a No. 1 seed in the men’s NCAA Tournament. Purdue was knocked off by Fairleigh Dickinson in 2023.Betting No. 15 SeedsNo. 15 seeds beating No. 2 seeds is more common, especially recently. Eleven No. 15 seeds have beaten No. 2 seeds since 1985, with seven of those wins coming since 2012. I’m definitely going to bet some higher seeds early in the tournament. By the time the “Elite Eight” get here, things will have settled down.  Breaking it down, a No. 15 seed has upset a No. 2 seed just 11 times in 152 games (7.2%). In the 27 tournaments from 1985 to 2011, No. 15 seeds won only four times in 108 games (3.7%).This is where it gets interesting. Since then, No. 15 seeds have seven wins in 44 games over the last 11 tournaments – a winning percentage of 15.9%. That’s a drastic increase. Being that the money line is so large, there will be opportunities with a No. 15 seed to pay large dividends. Betting the Money LineIf a bettor placed a $100 moneyline bet on every underdog in the NCAA Tournament since 2017, they’d be up $1,132. That’s making money line bets only. However, if taking no points is profitable, then taking the points is where one should initially be looking to bet.  Let’s look at the point spread bets.  There’s a similar trend for the spread as well. Bettors who wagered $100 on every underdog spread during that span would be up $723. It’s profitable bot that’s not even making minimum wage. Spread bets are safer and more likely to hit because the underdog doesn’t need to win the game to cover. However, spreads also come with worse odds and lower potential payouts, so there’s a trade-off there. Have you seen favorite(s) with a -250 money line, the payback is +200. That money goes in the casinos fund to add another floor. Regardless, both bet types have been profitable lately on March Madness underdogs. It’s profitable because of transfers and NIL’s. Imagine a high school star player getting recruited to Duke and sitting on the bench his entire college career. He knows he’ll never play so he transfers to another college where he’ll be a starter and has the potential to be an instant hit.  Betting Underdogs Accordingly, underdogs have become more viable bets based on recent trends. No. 15 and No. 16 seeds are still far more likely to lose than win, but upsets are becoming more common as stated above. Time will tell if those trends continue, as tournaments vary every year. In the meantime, wagering a small amount of money on a large underdog appears to be a reasonable betting strategy that could prove profitable this March. We will look further into investing in the underdog as the seeding is completed. Betting it all on “That One Dog” So if you were firing +250 dogs throughout the tourney — you know, the ones we actually thought could win — you probably lost your shirt. And if you want to blindly bet every team on the moneyline, you better be comfortable betting every team. If you missed on Saint Peters — which I don't think anyone advocated for — you did lose your shirt.In 2022, Saint Peters was +19.5 units thanks to its epic Elite Eight run with included wins at +1100, +650 and +300. The rest of the dogs were -13.5 units. It’s all or nothing. Is there a specific round where dogs do well? The only time it's really paid off for bettors is in the Elite Eight, which is too small a sample size to read much into. In the first two rounds and Final Four, it's been a downright disaster.One more example from 2023 March Madness. A bettor’s plan was simple: bet $100 on the underdog in every March Madness game. Despite going 0-for-3 in the final 3 games of the tournament, he still came out up $1,900 on his bets. That’s an exceptional month. Across all 67 games, he had 24 wins and 43 losses. Betting $100 on the money line on every underdog, he walked away up comfortably after the final whistle was blown.That is two years in a row now he’s taken this strategy and both years have been profitable. Finally, is betting underdogs profitable? It's not a simple yes or no answer on whether you should bet on an underdog or not. Underdogs will likely win less than 50 percent of the time, but that doesn't mean they won't be profitable. Recreational bettors often gravitate toward favorites, which can sometimes create value on the underdogs by inflating the lines. That’s where the sharp money and us seasoned professionals lay in wait. Professional bettors study the markets, check the odds, and crunch the numbers. Sportsbooks use incredibly complex software to check the stats, predict the most likely outcome, and set the odds accordingly. We, at VEGASWINNERS follow suit..Good Wagering 2024 March MadnessWayne Allyn Root

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2024 March Madness Sleeper Teams to Consider, Part 2

Tuesday, Feb 27, 2024

What’s Ahead in March? Very few would have expected to see first-time Final Four participants Florida Atlantic, Miami (FL), and San Diego State and UConn in Houston last year. Will we see any surprise teams in Glendale, Arizona, the site of the 2024 men’s Final Four? No #1 seeds reached the Elite Eight last season, and the highest-seeded team to reach the Final Four was UConn, the #4 seed in the West Regional.  As for this article for 2024 March Madness, here’s some longshots to look to make some noise. Just like we saw in that historic round one. The biggest single result saw Purdue, the #1 seed in the East Regional, fall in the first round to #16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson, just the second #16 seed in men’s March Madness history to boot a top seed in the first round. Will there be more?  It will probably take another article or two to complete this list. Let’s remember that this is to win a game or two. Will one get to the Final Four? It’s quite possible that one from my list will. Next article will be the next tier up on sleepers that actually have a chance to make the Final Four. You’ll have to come back in a week to find out.  Here’s a small sample size to take notice for this year. From a betting odds perspective, all teams listed here have March Madness winner odds of +7500 or longer. Let’s continue and pick up from my previous article of under the radar sleeper teams that have a shot to make the round of eight.  1. Mississippi State  Last season, the Bulldogs made the First Four despite severe offensive issues, especially from the perimeter. Those issues still remain to some degree and led to a shocking home loss to Southern University earlier this season. They also are a factor in why the Bulldogs have struggled mightily on the road.The Bulldogs are a paltry 2-6 on the road. But MSU also owns wins over Tennessee and Auburn, and they defeated Washington State and Northwestern in non-conference play, and they still rank as one of the top defensive teams in college basketball even after some less than stellar showings in SEC play.Mississippi State hasn’t won a game in the Big Dance since 2008, but at their best, they are a team with serious second week potential. Big man Tolu Smith is having a fine senior season after missing the first 12 games due to injury, and after being the nation’s worst three-point shooting team last season, improvement in that area has come in the form of fantastic freshman guard Josh Hubbard. 2. Nebraska  Like New Mexico, Nebraska has not been to the NCAA Tournament since 2014. But they are in position to end that drought this season, and a team that owns wins over Michigan State, Purdue, Northwestern, and Wisconsin will be a tough out in the tournament. The Huskers have three players averaging at least 11.4 PPG and 5.8 RPG, and they have several outside threats, led by leading scorer Keisei Tominaga, who is also known as the “Japanese Steph Curry.” A lot of patience has been needed in Fred Hoiberg’s tenure, but that patience might about to pay off. However one’s patience might be wearing thin based on Nebraska’s home/road dichotomy. They are 17-1 at home and 2-7 when away. The most you can count on them depending on seeding is a first round upset. That might be your best bet.  3. Washington State  The Cougars haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2008, the season before Klay Thompson’s three-season stint in Pullman began.But happy times are here again for Washington State. They weren’t on the March Madness radar in early January but are now in a strong position thanks to nine wins in ten games heading into a home matchup with Stanford. This team is loaded. They absolutely stole three great players from the players portal. And this is after the Cougars lost their top four scorers from last year. Idaho transfer Isaac Jones has been a standout, but the big story is guard Myles Rice. Rice came to Pullman in 2021, redshirted in his first season, then had to medically redshirt last season due to Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Hows this for the Cinderella story the media is always wanting? After beating cancer, Rice received his medical clearance and made his collegiate debut this season. Entering a home matchup with Stanford, Rice is averaging 16.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.7 APG, and 1.7 SPG. When he faced the Cardinal in Palo Alto, he had 35 points and eight assists in the Cougars’ 89-75 win. This is definitely a team that can represent the PAC 12 in the Round of Eight. Four Cougars average 10.4 PPG or better, but Washington State also ranks in the top 30 in adjusted defensive efficiency. In addition, they are one of the few teams that have a positive road record at 6-4. With the success they are having on both ends of the floor, this is a team to watch. Be sure to check back after the pairings are set for more tournament sleepers.

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2024 March Madness Sleeper Teams to Consider, Part 1

Monday, Feb 26, 2024

What’s Ahead in March?In today’s article, it understandable that 80% of the country doesn’t really get a true handle on West Coast college basketball. The games finished between 1-2:00 am. The updates get buried in games you’re looking to bet. Not games that ended in your sleep. I’ll cover some sleeper teams. The three today are from smaller conferences and don’t get much attention from the press. I can assure you the west coast basketball is alive, fast paced and full of three’s. Let’s remember the Final Four of 2023. It consisted of a No. 4 seed, two No. 5 seeds and a No. 9 seed and it is none too early to start trying to figure out which Sleepers to watch out for in the 2024 men's NCAA tournament.Obviously, matchups are everything when it comes to the NCAA tournament, and we have no clue what sort of draw any of these teams will get—if they make the tournament at all. But teams are ranked in ascending order of how confident we are in saying they will win at least one game, regardless of the hand they are dealt by the selection committee.1. St Mary’s  I've been promoting the Gaels as a sleeper team on a darn-near annual basis for the past decade, but they haven't made it to the Sweet 16 since 2010. They’re 23-6 and 14-0 in conference play. The Gaels are a strong team. The defense is great. The rebounding is superb. Their snail-like tempo is impossible to speed up. And they've been almost unbeatable for the past two months, winning 15 of their past 16 games.2. New MexicoWhat we didn't know three months ago was that Donovan Dent would become one of the biggest breakout stars in the country, nearly tripling his scoring average while becoming UNM's primary ball-handler. Or that forward JT Toppin would emerge as arguably one of the 10 best freshmen in the nation. Or that fellow freshman Tru Washington would be so valuable as a sixth man, particularly with his ball-hawking skills on defense. There's no question they have the goods to make a deep run. We already knew about Jaelen House and Jamal Mashburn Jr. from last season, when they averaged a combined 36 points per game. We also knew about Nelly Junior Joseph, the big man who transferred from Rick Pitino at Iona to Richard Pitino at New Mexico. That trio alone made the Lobos an intriguing preseason candidate to reach the dance. New Mexico is just loaded with dudes who can ball. You've been warned. Look out for the Lobos.3. Grand Canyon Grand Canyon was the pick to become this year's Cinderella team.And at the time, we had no clue how good Tyon Grant-Foster would be. The former JUCO transfer has been GCU's brightest star, averaging 19.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and better than one assist, steal and block per game. More predictably, returnees Ray Harrison and Gabe McGlothan have also been excellent, combining for close to 30 points and 11 rebounds per game after leading the 'Lopes to a No. 14 seed in last year's dance. The 'Lopes are no joke, undeniably better than they already had been in recent years. If GCU gets a seed in the Nos. 11-13 range, though, it could knock off any team currently in the mix for the Nos. 3-6 seed lines.Be sure to check back for more sleeper teams that will have success and be under the radar. 

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Super Bowl Props (You Should Not Bet)

Tuesday, Feb 06, 2024

The Super Bowl LVIII takes place Sunday, Feb. 11 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.  As of Friday afternoon, the Chiefs are getting 71% of the betting tickets on the spread via Action Network. Over the last 20 years of Super Bowls, the record for percent of betting tickets for a team is 68% by the 2018-19 Patriots (beat Rams 13-3) and 2013-14 Broncos (lost to Seahawks 43-8). ———————The Singing of the National Anthem +102 Sixteen consecutive musicians have taken at least 91 seconds to perform the national anthem at the Super Bowl. Reba McEntire does have a history of performing the national anthem very quickly, but with this price, we’re taking the over shoulder you decide to bet. This is the lowest national anthem total ever listed for a Super Bowl. McEntire has performed the song in as little as 65 seconds on a massive stage before. The longest she’s ever performed is 85 seconds. While that may make the under seem like a lock, we have seen musicians drag it out at the Super Bowl. Why couldn’t McEntire do the same the one time she will perform at the Super Bowl? With that; we will pass.  ————-The Coin Flip +100 Over the last 18 Super Bowls, heads and tails have each hit nine times. There’s a reason why when something is seen as a 50/50 chance, people say it’s a coin flip. Tails currently leads the all-time series 30-27, so we’re going to back heads to close the gap. This is a bet where the sports books actually charge vig on money for both sides. It should be no juice to get you started. Pass —————————The Gatorade ColorPurple +330 This is one of the few novelty bets that actually can be chosen with reason. Generally, the color is reminiscent of the color of the winning team’s uniforms. However, last year, the Chiefs dumped purple on Andy Reid. Athletes and coaches are superstitious people, and if purple worked last year, there’s no reason to think they won’t use the same color this year. Of course, purple is only going to hit if the Chiefs win this game. If you think the 49ers are more likely to win, then we’d recommend wagering on red. There are odds of +350 available for that color right now. We’d take a bet like that IF purple and red were the only two colors. Pass ———————The First Coaches Challenges Chiefs -115 Neither of these coaches use challenges very often. However, Reid does get a slight edge in this category. He threw five challenge flags this season, and four of those plays were overturned. That means he’s entering the Super Bowl confident, and if he thinks something should be challenged, he won’t hesitate to throw the flag. Kyle Shanahan only threw three challenge flags this season. In his career, he’s thrown just 37 challenge flags. That’s an average of just over five per season. Meanwhile, Reid has thrown more than six per season throughout his career. There’s no solid info to make a decision here. Pass —————-A repeat final score of Super Bowl LIV  They’re calling this the SEXY "Super Bowl LIV repeat" since this 31-20 was the score when these two teams met four years ago in Super Bowl 54. While there is a catchy name associated with this prop, the odds of fate happening is almost nil. The odds of this happening are incredibly low, however, it’s not unreasonable to think this will be close to the final score. Plus, do you want to be the one person who didn’t believe in history repeating itself if this does hit and a $1 bet wins $300? We still take a pass.  ————————First Team to Call Timeout 49ers -115 The Chiefs won the Super Bowl last year. They’ve played in huge games like this every year that Mahomes has been under center. They’re not going to be shaken by the moment. The same can’t be said of the 49ers.Brock Purdy is a young quarterback who has been prone to mistakes this season. There is a chance that he could get rattled early, which could lead to an unwarranted timeout. This one is about 50/50, but there is a legitimate reason for the 49ers to call timeout first. Purdy may struggle to read what the Chiefs' defense is presenting him. We think it’s better to save your money for a better bet. Pass —————————2nd Half Under  When the game hits the second half, the Chiefs have virtually run out the clock all season. Chiefs wins are 18-2 to the second-half under in their last 20 games and 19-1 to the fourth-quarter under. Since 2005, the Chiefs are the most profitable team to the second-half over or under, according to Bet Labs. A $100 bettor would be up $1,474 taking second-half unders in Chiefs games this season. The next-best were the 2017 Falcons — whose offensive coordinator was Shanahan — who were 15-1-2 to the under at +$1,348. • 2023 Chiefs: 18-2, $1,474 (unders)• 2017 Falcons: 15-1-2, $1.348 (unders)• 2011 Browns: 13-2-1, +$948 (unders)• 2010 Broncos: 14-2, +$1,088 (overs)Well……..ok, we WILL look at this as the week goes.  Good Luck and be sure to come back for my side and total AND all the prop bets I will bet.  Wayne Root 

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The Championship Games 2024: Chiefs vs Ravens and Lions vs 49ers.

Friday, Jan 26, 2024

As the NFL playoffs move toward their ultimate destination — the 58th playing of the Super Bowl contest — the remaining four participants are bracing for upcoming action on Sunday, Jan. 28. Just because we've reached the conference championships doesn't mean these contenders are devoid of lingering concerns. Here are the biggest questions facing each of the four teams still in the mix for the Super Bowl: After a thrilling weekend of football, the Conference Championship games are set in the NFL playoffs. On the NFC side the San Francisco 49ers, after surviving an upset threat from the Green Bay Packers, will play host to the Detroit Lions. In the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens will host an AFC Championship Game for the first time in franchise history. Standing in their way of Super Bowl 58 are the Kansas City Chiefs. Here’s the full schedule for the NFC Championship and AFC Championship. I don’t know whether the Ravens, 49ers, Lions, and Chiefs were the four best teams in the NFL this season, but they were certainly four of the league’s most interesting teams to follow, for a variety of reasons. Kansas City dared to ask how many roster holes could be covered up by an elite quarterback. The 49ers are starting Mr. Irrelevant at the most important position in sports while spending on positions that don’t matter (or so we’ve been told). The Ravens have dominated the league with two coordinators who were coaching college kids 24 months ago. And the Lions rode an offense whose most recognizable player is Jared Goff to a stage they haven’t seen in over 30 years. Here’s what we know.  AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME There’s something off about the Kansas City Chiefs. But as we saw in the Wild Card round, Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes have shown they can immediately snap out of their funk. There was never a real threat to the AFC West division winners since 2016. Kansas City still needs to learn which receivers they can rely on before returning to being one of the best teams in the NFL, but with Rashee Rice’s emergence, they might have enough ammo on hand.There's no denying Kansas City has flipped a switch down the stretch. Patrick Mahomes has settled in while leaning almost exclusively on the trio of Travis Kelce, Isiah Pacheco and emergent rookie Rashee Rice. For the third time in four years, the Chiefs ended the Bills' Super Bowl hopes in the playoffs. For the sixth time in six years, Kansas City is back in the AFC Championship game. Since taking over as the Chiefs' starter in 2018, quarterback Patrick Mahomes has still never ended a season without a divisional round win. The Baltimore Ravens are a different breed when it comes to defense, at least compared to the Bills and Dolphins. No team's surrendered fewer points this year, and stalwarts like Roquan Smith swarm to the ball. Baltimore overcame a bit of a rocky start to beat rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud and the Houston Texans, 34-10. Ravens quarterback and likely NFL MVP Lamar Jackson finished with 152 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, 100 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. Jackson obviously has the legs to avoid trouble, but he'll likely need more than a few electric scrambles to outlast Mahomes and Co. Tight end Mark Andrews' anticipated return should also help as Todd Monken's attack looks to apply pressure to K.C. out of the gate. Another reason a hot start is imperative for Baltimore: Not so dissimilar to the 49ers, this is a team well-positioned to maintain a lead. Jackson is part of an always-strong rushing group that's capable of burning clock and controlling the ball, and the Roquan Smith-led defense has the firepower and flexibility to chip in on the other side. What if Rice is blanketed on the perimeter? Are Kelce and Pacheco, who thrive more as grind-it-out chain-movers than field-stretchers, capable of carrying the day? It's possible. But for much of 2023, remember, Mahomes' chief issue was simply finding a reliable outlet when he needed one. The Ravens could inflame that. Baltimore cruised to a 34-10 win over the Texans, but only after an uneven first half that saw Houston hang around while sending the blitz on MVP favorite Lamar Jackson. There may not be as much grace afforded by the Chiefs' defense, which is arguably the toughest of the Patrick Mahomes era. K.C. has more sacks than every team except Baltimore, and its pressure rate -- 27.8% -- ranks second in the NFL, with Chris Jones and George Karlaftis leading the way in the trenches. This is definitely a matchup the NFL loves.  NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME It took a fourth-quarter comeback against the NFC's bottom seed, but the 49ers are on the doorstep of the Super Bowl for a second season in a row. Running back Christian McCaffrey gashed the Packers' defense for 98 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries (5.8 yards per carry). It's worth noting San Francisco may be without standout receiver Deebo Samuel, who left the divisional round game early with a shoulder injury. Will Samuel be at full speed? Can Purdy build off a calmer finish to his otherwise erratic outing? And will Shanahan stop bending conservative in key spots? We all know this contender has the all-star talent to win it all, but time and again, they've suggested they're built to play from ahead, not the other way around. Prodding at San Francisco for barely escaping a Packers comeback feels a bit like nitpicking; this is still a 13-5 team (including playoffs) with enviable infrastructure, including a coach in Kyle Shanahan who's now been to four NFC title games in five years. But anyone with eyes could see that young quarterback Brock Purdy was more finnicky than usual against Green Bay. Whether it was due primarily to the rainy conditions, the absence of a healthy Deebo Samuel or pressure from the Jordan Love-led Pack isn't entirely relevant. Because whatever you think of the Lions, Detroit is destined to make the NFC title clash a fight. Can it be a Cinderella run for a team that won 12 regular season games? Detroit is the biggest feel-good team of these playoffs after a 31-23 divisional round win over Tampa Bay. Lions quarterback Jared Goff out-dueled Buccaneers signal-caller Baker Mayfield in an exciting clash between the two former No. 1 picks. At this point, few actually doubt Goff's ability to play top-level ball in the cozy confines of Ford Field. But away from home, the QB's been significantly less comfortable and/or effective. The same can be said of his production -- or lack thereof -- when pressured; his nine interceptions against pressure rank second worst among all QBs this year. But they've still got a tenacious defense headlined by opportunistic vets like Fred Warner, heightening the stakes. Now, the 49ers haven't been nearly as dominant as expected up front and off the edge, failing to sack Jordan Love even once in the wild-card round. And with center Frank Ragnow banged up at the heart of Detroit's line, all eyes will be on Goff's pocket and his composure within it. Will it be the solid favorite in the oddsmakers eyes or the solid favorite in the eyes of the public? We shall see. 

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NFL Top 10 Poll - Week 18

Wednesday, Jan 03, 2024

As football fans celebrate New Year’s Day and welcome in 2024, our latest Week 18 NFL power rankings take a look at everything that happened this weekend. The NFL’s playoff picture has taken a clear shape as we prepare for the final week of the regular season. In Week 17, the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers secured the No. 1 seeds in their respective conferences, earning first-round byes. Five teams are alive for three playoff spots in the AFC and six teams are alive for two spots in the NFC. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Browns clinched a playoff spot and the race for the NFC East opened up. No team better exemplifies the madness than the Bills, who can potentially win their division and move up to the No. 2 seed in the AFC but also miss the playoffs completely in the last of the 272 regular-games. 1. Baltimore Ravens (13-3)Wow, what a performance by both Lamar Jackson and the defense. I doubted the Ravens because I was concerned about their tackle and cornerback play, but they dominated San Francisco and Miami. In a game between arguably the AFC’s two best teams, the Ravens routed the Dolphins, 56-19, to clinch the AFC North and home-field advantage until the Super Bowl. Lamar Jackson might’ve clinched NFL MVP, too, with 321 passing yards, five touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 rating. Congrats to Jackson for wrapping up the MVP award.2. San Francisco 49ers (12-4)Is Christian McCaffrey OK? Luckily for the 49ers, they’ll be able to give him two weeks of rest before their first playoff game. With a little help elsewhere, the 49ers clinched the first-round bye extra time for Christian McCaffrey to heal from a possible strained calf muscle that caused him to leave in the third quarter after gaining 91 yards. Brock Purdy bounced back from his career-worst performance by throwing two touchdowns in a 27-10 win against the Commanders.3. Cleveland Browns (11-5)Joe Flacco hasn’t had a hot streak like this since his four-game playoff tear for the Ravens on the way to Super Bowl MVP in 2012. The Browns are somehow nearly 5-0 with Joe Flacco at quarterback. Though it seems odd, remember that Flacco could be deemed the best quarterback the Browns have had in a long time. Flacco has four straight 300-yard passing games, the latest of which included a career-high 296 in the first half during a playoff-berth-clinching 37-20 stomping of the Jets. I have to imagine all the young players on the team really look up to him because of his experience and leadership. Flacco was even able to succeed against a talented Jets secondary without Amari Cooper.4. Dallas Cowboys (11-5)The Cowboys are lucky they didn’t lose to the Lions. However, is there a better quarterback-receiver combination right now than Dak Prescott-CeeDee Lamb? They connected for 13 catches on 17 targets, resulting in 227 yards and a touchdown. Prescott directed a game-winning 75-yard fourth-quarter drive to complete an undefeated home schedule (8-0) for the first time since 1981.5. Detroit (11-5)An upset victory of the Cowboys was in the works until the officials penalized their trick two-point conversion pass to offensive lineman Taylor Decker with 23 seconds remaining. Was it a blown call? It looks that way. No solace to the Lions after falling short when their third try at the go-ahead two points ended on Jared Goff’s incompletion. The official, Brad Allen, screwed over the Bears recently as well, so it’s worth wondering whether he’s a Packers or a Vikings fan.6. Los Angeles Rams (9-7)After beating the Giants, 26-25, the surging Rams’ team plane reportedly waited at the airport for other games to end so they could celebrate clinching a playoff spot. The Rams were very sloppy against the Giants, but still were able to win. I don’t know if this is a good thing. On one hand, they were able to overcome poor play to prevail. On the other hand, it would obviously be troubling if this were the beginning of a trend where the Rams started being careless with the football. I’ve moved the Rams up to because they’re the only team in the top six of both offensive and defensive EPA. I worry about their special teams, but that’s about it.7. Buffalo Bills (10-6)Josh Allen ran for two touchdowns to send the Bills into a winner-take-division game against Miami. The Bills once again didn’t have the most convincing performance, as they’ve been sleepwalking ever since they beat the Cowboys in that lopsided statement game. It wasn’t as easy as it should’ve been but vengeance was exacted for an early-season loss by beating the Patriots, 27-21. The offense has been a big disappointment the past two weeks, and what has happened to Stefon Diggs? Buffalo needs Diggs to show some life with the playoffs soon underway.8. Miami Dolphins (11-5)A season-long explosive offense looked pedestrian without the injured duo of Raheem Mostert (NFL touchdowns leader) and Jaylen Waddle against the Ravens’ top-ranked scoring defense. The Dolphins suddenly have huge concerns because Tua Tagovailoa, Xavien Howard and Bradley Chubb all suffered injuries against the Ravens. Tua Tagovailoa threw two touchdowns and two interceptions, leaving the AFC East title unclinched. I liked the Dolphins’ chances before the Baltimore game, but not anymore.9. Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)The good news is that the Chiefs won and can rest their starters in Week 18 because they’ve clinched the No. 3 seed. The bad news is that the Chiefs continued to make dumb mistakes when they weren’t feeding the ball to Isiah Pacheco. If the Kansas City Chiefs are going to have any success in the playoffs, Rashee Rice and Isiah Pacheco have to be just as involved as Travis Kelce. We know Patrick Mahomes can amplify this offense, helping Rice look like a No. 1 receiver and Pacheco a dangerous three-down back. However, the Chiefs’ offense is still dealing with costly turnover problems and it will have to face much better defenses in the playoffs.10. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7)Just when you thought the Steelers were dead and incapable of giving Mike Tomlin another winning record. Mason Rudolph did just enough to likely keep the starting job, but the real standouts in Week 17 from Pittsburgh were Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren. The Steelers’ running backs made eclipsing 200 scrimmage yards look easy and it’s because of them that Pittsburgh has another winning season. They crushed the Bengals, then went into Seattle and won. Unfortunately for them, they need the Jaguars to lose to the Titans to make the postseason.

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NFL Top 10 Rankings - Week 17

Thursday, Dec 28, 2023

It seems that nothing gets settled in the NFL and both conferences just continue to trade places. Depending on the week, the top four teams in the conference flip flop between dominant and highly beatable, often times landing in between. While the Cowboys are nursing their first losing streak since 2021, the Philadelphia Eagles broke their three-game skid. The Detroit Lions won again, but the hottest team in the world, the San Francisco 49ers, got ransacked in their own house. Which brings the conversation to the AFC, where the Baltimore Ravens are settling in as the top dog. What they did to the perceived best team in the league on Monday night was eye-opening, even with how well they had played all year. Meanwhile, Miami and Buffalo are taking advantage of a weird free-fall by the defending world champs, the Kansas City Chiefs. All together, it’s a wild Week 17 Power Rankings. 1. Baltimore RavensThe Ravens passed their test with flying colors, turning over the 49ers’ seemingly unstoppable offense and cruising to an easy win. What a performance by both Lamar Jackson and the defense. I doubted the Ravens because I was concerned about their tackle and cornerback play, but they dominated San Francisco. They get another test this week at home against the Dolphins. If they win that game, they will lock up the No. 1 seed before their season finale against the Steelers in Week 18.2. San Francisco 49ersInjuries were the primary talking point about the 49ers’ three-game losing streak earlier in the season, but turnovers were the real story of those three losses. I’d be concerned about BrockPurdy’s performance against the Ravens if we hadn’t already seen him crush the Cowboys and Eagles. The issue popped up again Christmas night, with Brock Purdy throwing four interceptions before he left and Sam Darnold adding another to end the game. The possibility of one of those turnover meltdowns is the real concern as this team heads into the postseason. I’m confident Purdy will rebound and lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl.3. Miami DolphinsMiami finally got their signature win, but it was not easy. After allowing the Cowboys to come back and take a one-point lead, Tua Tagovailoa led a game-winning drive that ended with a field goal as time expired. Tua Tagovailoa didn’t play his best against the Cowboys, yet the Dolphins found a way to win. This just shows how much Miami’s defense has improved since some ugly showings at the beginning of the season. The road does not get any easier with a trip to Baltimore up next and the Bills in the season finale, but the Dolphins needed a win like this.4. Buffalo BillsThe Bills had such an obvious trap game that I thought it was too obvious so that it wouldn’t be a trap game, yet it still was a trap game. The Bills were able to overcome the trap game, however, and beat the Chargers with a final drive to really help themselves in the AFC playoff race. It was far from a convincing win, but Josh Allen led a game-winning field goal drive in the closing seconds to knock off the Chargers and move the Bills to 9-6 on the season. That win is important both because it put them in a great position in the Wild Card race and kept open the possibility of an AFC East showdown with the Dolphins in Week 18. For that to happen, the Bills need to take care of business against the Patriots and have Miami lose to the Ravens.5. Dallas CowboysIt has been a tough trip through the AFC East the last two weeks for the Cowboys. After getting demolished in Buffalo, Dallas came up just short in Miami despite taking the lead late. Now they head home to face a Lions team that just clinched their first playoff appearance since 2016. The Cowboys lost, but they didn’t have Tyron Smith. Zack Martin was also banged up. We know how important it is for Dak Prescott to have everything perfect around him to succeed, so Dallas will need those two blockers to get healthy ahead of the playoffs. They need a win here at home to keep their division dreams alive. 6. Detroit LionsCongratulations to Detroit for winning the NFC North for the first time ever. The Lions received great news that Chauncey Gardner-Johnson has been cleared to practice. He may not return until the playoffs, but his presence will be a huge, much-needed boost. Despite a lackluster run that saw them lose to the Packers and Bears, the Lions suddenly find themselves tied with the Eagles and 49ers atop the NFC after dispatching the Vikings on Sunday. The defense did force turnovers in that game and stopped Minnesota’s rushing attack, but Nick Mullens averaged 11.4 yards per attempt and had the Vikings in position to score a game-winning touchdown before throwing his fourth interception. Detroit’s defense remains their Achilles heel, and that is a concern with a trip to Dallas next up on the schedule.7. Cleveland BrownsThe Cleveland Browns are officially a problem for the division leaders in the AFC. The Browns are somehow nearly 4-0 with Joe Flacco at quarterback. Though it seems odd, remember that Flacco could be deemed the best quarterback the Browns have had in a long time. I have to imagine all the young players on the team really look up to him because of his experience and leadership. Joe Flacco threw another three touchdowns, Amari Cooper set a franchise record with 265 yards, and the offense put it on the Texans in a win that was more comprehensive than the final score indicates. Flacco still has some rough throws and has turned the ball over too much, but just having a functional offense attached to this defense makes the Browns a dangerous team.8. Philadelphia EaglesPhilly’s offense had some impressive drives in the fourth quarter to seal the win, but it is a concern a 20-3 halftime lead was cut to just two points late in the third quarter against one of the worst teams in the league, a team that might have beaten them if Tyrod Taylor played the entire game. Oh, and the Eagles weren’t remotely competitive against the 49ers and Cowboys (second meeting). Things should have gotten easier against Seattle, but the Eagles lost to them, too. They won by eight versus the Giants, but the Giants suck. Philadelphia’s secondary is a disaster. Like a lot of the “top” teams in the league, they head into the final couple of weeks with serious questions. Of course, they get to face the Cardinals and then the Giants again to close things out, and they are currently tied for the No. 1 seed with the 49ers.9. Kansas City ChiefsAfter losing to the Raiders on Christmas Day, the Chiefs are now 3-5 over their last eight games, and some of the wins during that stretch have not been impressive. Why couldn’t the Chiefs play like they did on Christmas versus the Raiders in their first meeting? I couldn’t bet on Aidan O’Connell after seeing that performance, and it turns out I was right about fading O’Connell. Yet, the Raiders still won despite not completing a pass in the final three quarters! They went down early to these same Raiders back in Week 12, and it was a struggle for them to beat the Patriots in Week 15. We are beyond trusting Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes to flip the switch and get this offense moving. Something is broken, and they are running out of time to get it fixed.10. Tampa Bay BuccaneersThere’s no doubt there are other teams deserving this final top 10 spot. They’re in because they are leading the NFC-South. The Bucs have been impressive the last two weeks, beating the Packers in Lambeau and then dominating the Jaguars at home. A defense that had been struggling stood strong against Trevor Lawrence on Sunday, and the passing game continues to be effective. The Buccaneers were very lucky in games earlier in the season, and that continued to be the case recently. They had no business beating the Falcons because they were outgained by 150 net yards and two yards per play. The Falcons couldn’t get the job done because they constantly shot themselves in the foot. However, Baker Mayfield was on fire against the Packers and Jaguars. Tampa Bay will have a chance to win in January if Mayfield can keep playing this way. They have a chance to clinch the division this week against the Saints.

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NFL Top 10 Poll - Week 15

Wednesday, Dec 13, 2023

Week 14 has come and gone and the Dallas Cowboys are tied for the best record in the NFL. What a wonderful time for America’s team. The Cowboys-Eagles rivalry has reached a peak, which is good for football. They've both got to deal with the 49ers at some point, and that won't be fun for anyone with the way San Francisco is playing. We live in a world where Brock Purdy might be MVP and Tommy DeVito is unbeatable and if Brock Purdy isn’t MVP, it will probably be … yeah, you guessed it, Brandon Aubrey. We saw a bunch of upsets from lower-ranked teams, with the Giants, Jets, Patriots, Bears and Titans all winning big games. It's cliché, but the NFL is a week-to-week league. Any given Sunday (or Thursday or Monday or Saturday after college football season), as they say.1. San Francisco 49ers (10-3) Brock Purdy threw for a career-high 368 yards with two touchdowns and became the fourth player to complete at least 70 percent of his passes in seven straight games during a 28-16 victory against the Seahawks. Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey and Brandon Aiyuk all topped 125 yards from scrimmage in an 11th straight win against the NFC West. It was not the bloodbath some expected when it was announced Geno Smith would sit out the game, and the defense gave up a little too much to Drew Lock. Still, the 49ers cruised to a win, averaging 13.6 yards per pass and 7.5 yards per carry. Pretty good. They’re one the road this week at Arizona. 2. Dallas Cowboys (10-3) The Cowboys finally got their big win, crushing the Eagles at home to take control of the division. Dak Prescott is firmly in the MVP conversation, and the defense forced another three turnovers on Sunday night. Brandon Aubrey can’t miss. The rookie kicker made field goals from 45, 50, 59 and 60 yards in the victory against the Eagles. Dak Prescott threw two more touchdown passes to up his seven-game hot-streak totals to 22 touchdowns and two interceptions. Former Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore looks like a No. 1 cornerback again. Make that 15 straight home wins. All of that said, while the Eagles are now finished with their tough run, the Cowboys are just getting started. They have trips to the Bills this weekend and the Dolphins over the next two weeks before a home date with the Lions in Week 17.3. Baltimore Ravens (10-3) The Ravens got all they wanted from a good Rams team which beat the Browns in Week 13. Lamar Jackson threw three touchdown passes, including the late fourth-quarter go-ahead 21-yard strike to Zay Flowers, in wet and sloppy conditions. Isaiah Likely had 83 yards and a touchdown, filling the absence of injured tight end Mark Andrews. Promisingly given their late-game struggles earlier this season, Baltimore was able to drive for a touchdown late and, despite giving up a field goal to force overtime. Injury replacement Tylan Wallace’s 76-yard walk-off punt return in overtime ended a back-and-forth 37-31 victory against the Rams. The road does not get easier with the Jaguars, 49ers, and Dolphins the next three weeks. The Ravens will have to earn the No. 1 seed if they want that bye. They get the SNF game this week against the Jags. 4. Kansas City Chiefs (8-5) Patrick Mahomes, the face of the NFL, exploded on officiating and is in hot water with the NFL. Mahomes was livid after the game because of an offsides call on Kadarius Toney that negated a go-ahead touchdown, but the reality is the Bills allowed the Chiefs to stay in the game, and they simply could not take advantage of the opportunity. With a chance to put a stake in the rival Bills’ playoff hopes, the Chiefs instead lost, 20-17, and fell to 2-4 in their last six games since picking up Taylor Swift off waivers. Kansas City has now lost four of their last six and has mounting injury concerns on defense. The Chiefs need to get right the next two weeks against the Patriots and Raiders. As it stands, the Broncos are only one game back in the division. They travel to New England this Sunday. 5. Philadelphia Eagles (10-3) Perhaps it is not a surprise the Eagles finally folded given the run of games they played, but they put in another lackluster effort against the Cowboys on Sunday night. When your three best offensive players all lose fumbles on the plus side of the field, you lose. That’s what happened to the Eagles when Jalen Hurts, A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith all cut short scoring opportunities in the loss to the Cowboys. The loss drops them to the No. 5 seed, although they still control their destiny in the division if they can win out and find an offensive line. They will need the defense to improve for that to happen. The good news is Philly gets the Giants twice and the Cardinals after a trip to the likely Geno Smith-less Seahawks in Week 15.6. Buffalo Bills (7-6)It was still closer than it should have been late, but the Bills were able to turn this strong performance against a good team into a much-needed win. And they beat the Chiefs because Josh Allen accounted for two touchdowns, and the defense got a late fourth-down stop. Now 7-6, Buffalo is tied with five other teams hunting for a playoff spot. That means they need to keep winning, and they still have tough games against the Cowboys (next week) and Dolphins (Week 18) sandwiched around easier matchups against the Chargers and Patriots. The Bills just beat the Chiefs and have already beaten the Dolphins. They might be a better team, but their current playoff situation is too precarious to have higher. The host the surging Cowboys this week. 7. Cleveland Browns (8-5)Three weeks after joining the Browns, Joe Flacco threw three touchdown passes. And the defense intercepted a hobbled Trevor Lawrence three times. The individual stats for Joe Flacco over the last two weeks (55% completion rate, 6.3 yards per attempt, 5 touchdowns, 2 interceptions) are not outstanding, but the offense has looked functional for the first time in a long time with him at quarterback, although three turnovers kept this game closer than it should have been; but that’s what great defenses do. The Browns are the eighth team to win with four different starting quarterbacks in a season. Dustin Hopkins’ late 55-yard field goal provided critical breathing room. The defense made it right with four takeaways of their own and is getting some key players back to full health. With a one-game lead over the group at 7-6 and games remaining against the Bears and Jets, the Browns are in a great position to make the playoffs especially playing at home this weekend against the Chicago Bears. 8. Miami Dolphins (9-4) Picking up a loss against the Titans is definitely not great, especially with the Dolphins facing a closing three-game run against the Cowboys, Ravens, and Bills, but the bigger concern is Tyreek Hill. The offense looked lost without him on the field Monday night, and the good spurts it did have came on the limited snaps Hill was able to play. So an opportunity wasted. With a chance to pull even with the Ravens and gain distance over the rest of the AFC, the Dolphins laid an egg in a 28-27 loss to the Titans. It’s not so easy without Tyreek Hill, who sat out much of the game with an ankle injury. Tua Tagovailoa’s streak of 21 straight games with a touchdown pass was snapped and his performance was sluggish at best. Even with all of that, though, the Dolphins still led by 14 with less than three minutes left in the game. They had a nearly 100% win probability. Games like that will happen. For the long term, though, the health of Hill appears to be vital to their chances. The Dolphins should defeat the Jets hosting them but it is a divisional game. 9. Detroit Lions (9-4) There was no magical comeback this week. The Lions simply lost to the Bears, their second loss in three games and fourth concerning performance in a row. After stealing a win from the Bears with a late comeback earlier this season, the Lions couldn’t repeat the feat in a 28-13 loss. Jared Goff threw two interceptions, fumbled a snap and was sacked four times. Since their bye, the Lions are 22nd in yards per play allowed and 30th in points per drive allowed. They have faced Chicago twice, the Chargers, the Packers, and the Saints during that span. Over the last four games, Jared Goff has 7 touchdowns and 8 turnovers. They still have a two-game lead in the division, but they have to play the second-place Vikings twice in addition to the Broncos and Cowboys. It is time for some worry in Detroit, but it is difficult to find teams worthy of jumping them on this list. Detroit plays a Saturday game at home vs Denver. 10. Denver Broncos (7-6) Russell Wilson threw two touchdown passes, and the defense sacked Justin Herbert four times on the first six possessions, ultimately knocking him out with a broken finger; season ending. An injury to Justin Herbert might cheapen the win somewhat, but the Broncos were already beating the Chargers before Herbert left the game. The Broncos’ sixth win in their last seven games – a 24-7 drilling of the Chargers – actually was their first on the road against an AFC West rival since Oct. 6, 2019. Despite coming up just short against the Texans in Week 13, the Broncos’ game plan is working like a charm and has them right in the playoff hunt following six wins in seven games. They get the struggling Lions on Saturday before finishing with the Patriots, Chargers (without Herbert again), and Raiders. The path is wide open for Denver to make the playoffs. They travel to the Motor City to take on the Lions. 

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NFL Top 10 Poll - Week 14

Friday, Dec 08, 2023

There is no drama at the top of these rankings. As the power rankings continue to show every week, there's not a lot you can trust in this league. Thank goodness for the 49ers, who just might be the only exception right now. After yet another easy win over a strong team, the 49ers are clearly the best squad in the NFL right now and have a great chance to go all the way if they stay healthy. Things are getting interesting behind them, however. The supposedly elite teams in the AFC can’t stop losing, the race for the final Wild Card spot in both conferences is on, and the NFC South exists. As for everyone else, it's starting to look more and more chaotic as we get closer to the end.   1. San Francisco (9-3)With that thumping of Philly, it's easy to argue the Niners have the two most impressive wins of the 2023 season. The Eagles and Cowboys were pounded by a combined score of 84-29. The offense is a four-headed monster, and Brock Purdy is steady at the controls. Through 12 games, Purdy leads the NFL in QBR (75.6), completion percentage (70.2%) and yards per attempt (9.6), among other key categories. Purdy hasn't just picked up where he left off, he has been better and helped elevate the Niners' offense to heights it hasn't previously reached since coach Kyle Shanahan arrived in 2017. The defense is dominant once again. Few teams have as good a resume, and no one has as much talent. Deebo Samuel talked so much trash about the Eagles leading up to the game of the year and then he backed it all up. The dude put on a show. Their show this week is a home game against Seattle. 2. Baltimore (9-3)There's no need to move the Ravens during a week off, but all five of their remaining games are against teams in the playoff race. That gives them plenty of time to grab the top spot; or less. The Ravens got to watch both the Chiefs and Jaguars lose during their bye week. Not a bad vacation. Baltimore has nothing but tough games left, starting with the Rams this week, but they have an open path to the No. 1 seed. Their game against the Dolphins in Week 17 could go a long way in deciding that. Ravens fans like being on Miami’s radar and the Phins are coming up on New Year's Eve. Circle that one on the calendar. That’s clearly the path they have to be thinking at this time. Might be easy to overlook the Rams this week coming off their bye.3. Dallas (9-3)Simply put, Dak Prescott is playing the best ball of his career right now. However, there’s others responsible for their success. Who else could it be? CB DeRon Bland leads the NFL with eight interceptions, and his five pick-sixes are a single-season NFL record. All this while filling in for Pro Bowl CB Trevon Diggs, who suffered a season-ending torn ACL in his left knee in a Week 3 practice. But there's more work to be done with the Eagles on deck, and Thursday's scintillating performance against Seattle was a hell of a start to the home stretch. If he manages to beat Philly, I think he'll be the MVP front-runner the next time I write this blurb. Last week, Dallas was pushed all the way by the Seahawks, but they held on for the win in yet another good performance from Dak Prescott. Suddenly only one game back from the visiting Eagles, the Cowboys have a chance to make a play for the division at home this week before a tough run of games against the Bills, Dolphins, and Lions from Week 15 to Week 17. Dak Prescott for MVP. Somehow, his detractors would still be mad he won. No QB is under more scrutiny. 4. Philadelphia (10-2)Philly got punched. Hard. In the face. How will they respond? Probably pretty well. Even with a humbling loss to San Francisco, the Eagles still have more wins than any other team. As much as they're probably hurting right now, they can put a stranglehold on the division with a big road win in Dallas this weekend. Just try not to let the Niners loss beat you twice by sucking this weekend. The Eagles' special teams group turned from a weakness in 2022 to a strength this season. Philadelphia entered Week 13 with the No. 1 special teams ranking in the NFL. This time of the stretch run is all about defense and special teams. 5. Miami (9-3) Tyreek Hill will benefit from the 17th game that was added to the schedule in 2021 as he vies for the NFL's first 2000-yard receiving season. But even still, he's averaging one yard more per game than Calvin Johnson did in 2012, when he set the NFL's single-season receiving record. If he stays as hot as was in Washington, he's got a shot at setting the record in 16 games. So much focus on Tyreek, but Tua is playing as well. He makes that offense go. The Dolphins beat the stuffing out of another bad team and currently sit as the No. 1 seed. It is what it is at this point. Miami has two more easy games before finishing with the Cowboys, Ravens, and Bills.6. Kansas City (8-4)The Packers are surging, but Kansas City still shouldn't be losing games to a .500 team. The Chiefs probably should be lower given what we have seen from them recently, but there is no one to drop them below due to the Lions’ recent struggles and the quarterback injuries. Doth mine eyes deceive, or are the Chiefs somewhat vulnerable? The Chiefs' offensive issues are real, regardless of whether they want to blame officiating. Rashee Rice, the Chiefs' 2023 second-round draft pick, has been the team's best wide receiver so far this season. He leads the Chiefs' wideouts by significant margins in catches (52), yards (591) and touchdowns (five). Will they be real enough to waste the best defense to ever complement Patrick Mahomes? We'll see in early 2024 during the playoffs. 7. Detroit (9-3) The last three weeks have been troubling for the Lions’ postseason outlook, especially with how strong the top three teams in the NFC have looked. The Lions will get to test themselves against the Cowboys in Week 17. Meanwhile, the Lions have guaranteed themselves a winning record with a month still to play, and that's very fun. But you have to be concerned about this defense. When the New Orleans Saints are flirting with 30 points against you, it's a pretty clear indicator you've got problems. Sam LaPorta is s breath of fresh air. Nine catches for 140 yards on nine targets and LaPorta is that something else. There were obviously season turning expectations for the Lions rookie after being selected in the second round (34th overall) of the 2023 NFL draft out of Iowa, but LaPorta has been better than advertised. His NFL career is off to a great start with the third-most catches (64) and fourth-most receiving yards (679) through the first 12 games of a tight end's career in NFL history. 8. Houston (7-5)This is where the league starts to get very confusing. It sounds strange to say, but among a bunch of .500 teams, I think I trust the Texans the most especially after their defense pulled some of the weight Sunday against Denver. It is disappointing the Texans allowed themselves to get into a close game with the Broncos, but they came out on top and are suddenly in a much better position in the division given the injury to Trevor Lawrence. A game against the Jets this week and then two against the Titans in the three weeks after that helps their case. Hate to see what happened to Tank Dell breaking his leg. Nola Brown now enters the picture at wide receiver. 9.  Buffalo (6-6)The good news is the field did not run away from the Bills during the bye week. The bad news is they still get the Chiefs and Cowboys over the next two weeks and then finish the season against the Dolphins. They probably need to win two of those games to make the playoffs… more realistically, all three. What a fascinating stretch this is going to be for the Bills. They'll play back-to-back games against the Chiefs and Cowboys next. Those could re-announce them as a contender or sink their season. I know Buffalo is the AFC No. 10 seed, but I just can't count them out. Note to Josh Allen: It’s your turnover’s that’s causing so many losses so what’s your plan?10. Jacksonville (8-4) The Jaguars could not slow down the Jake Browning-led Bengals and then lost Trevor Lawrence to what could be a multi-week ankle injury in the upset Monday night defeat. Riding high after their win over the Texans, the Jaguars now face an uncertain path to the postseason. Getting the Browns and Ravens over the next two weeks does not help matters. As of this writing, it's unclear how severe Trevor Lawrence's ankle injury is. Regardless of that, the Jags' typically stout defense has some soul-searching to do after allowing 491 yards to the Jake Browning-led Bengals. There are multiple reasons to be concerned in Jacksonville. Gotta feel for Trevor Lawrence. Injuries are just the absolute worst.

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NFL Top 10 Poll - Week 13

Wednesday, Nov 29, 2023

Twelve weeks into the 2023 NFL season, we're finding out how much we don't know about the league. A month ago, the Denver Broncos would have been out. The Green Bay Packers are now surging as well. The Buffalo Bills are .500 and San Francisco shows that a team can lose three games in a row and still be Number 1. Additionally, we had our second in-season head coach firing of 2023.   That's not even half of the happenings in Week 12 alone. The NFL may be many things. Boring ain't one of them. 1. San Francisco (8-3) After a three-game skid, the 49ers have returned to their old ways. They are consistently playing great football on both sides. Christian McCaffrey rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns in the first half as the 49ers jumped out to a 21-point halftime lead and cruised to a 31-13 win against the Seahawks. The 49ers have won 10 straight against NFC West opponents and three straight overall to put a three-game losing streak in the distance. If Brock Purdy can be a game manager and not turn the ball over, then the 49ers might be ready to take on the Eagles for the best of the NFC. Luckily, we get to find out this week when the two NFC Juggernauts face off in Philadelphia. 2. Philadelphia (10-1) In some late-game heroics, the Eagles remained the NFL's only one-loss team. Never underestimate the value of a great kicker. Jake Elliott’s game-tying 59-yarder through the rain tied the score with 20 seconds left in regulation, and Jalen Hurts capped a five-touchdown day (three passing, two rushing) with a 12-yard scramble to the end zone to seal a 37-34 overtime win against the Bills. The Eagles overcame a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit. The Bills could not capitalize when they had opportunities and it ended up biting them in the rear end. Philadelphia continues to show that they are a top 1 or 2 team in the NFL, even if they have a coach who acts like a middle schooler at the helm. 3. Kansas City (8-3) The Chiefs looked more like themselves this week against the Raiders. While the Raiders are not a great team, they have been playing good football ever since they parted ways with Josh McDaniels. Kansas City had a slow start, but unlike in recent weeks, they were able to put points on the scoreboard in the second half. After not scoring in the second half for three straight games, the Chiefs scored 17 to break a halftime tie in a 31-17 win against the Raiders. All of it was needed, too, after falling into a 14-0 hole giving renewed Raiders faithful hope. The the Chiefs defense stepped up. The Chiefs have held 11 straight opponents to 24 points or fewer. Isiah Pacheco rushed for two touchdowns. If this version of the Chiefs is what we get the rest of the year, they could be a tough team to beat in the playoffs, especially if the AFC still runs through Arrowhead. 4. Baltimore (9-3) The Ravens are somewhat gimmicky, but they have found consistent success on both sides of the ball this season. There is a reason that they are atop the AFC by a half-game. They have, unlike the Chiefs on a consistent basis, executed. They are not as talented as the other teams in their tier, but they are all consistently on the same page and therefore win big games. The well-traveled Jadeveon Clowney is playing like a former No. 1 overall draft pick, culminating with a key strip-sack takeaway that kept fourth-quarter points off the board in a 20-10 victory against the Chargers. Rookie Zay Flowers scored both touchdowns, icing the game with 96 seconds to go. The Ravens have led entering the fourth quarter in all 12 games. I think the Mark Andrews injury will probably haunt them against really good defenses, but they beat the Chargers in a tight matchup. 5. Dallas (8-3) Okay, okay, okay. I know that the Cowboys won and that they have talent all over the field, but they will forever be a team that I am willing to allow other teams to jump over because they have not beaten anyone with a winning record… for the time being. How is that possible? A 25-point fourth-quarter explosion turned a close game into a 45-10 blowout against the Commanders. Dak Prescott threw for 331 yards and had multiple touchdown passes for the fifth straight game. DaRon Bland set a NFL single-season record with his fifth interception return for a touchdown. The Cowboys have won 13 straight at home — their longest streak in 42 years. I don't know if the Cowboys are ready or battle-tested for what the NFC playoff picture could show them in the coming weeks. 6. Detroit (8-3)   Although the score does not show it, this week's game against the Packers was never really a competition. The Lions started slowly and they never really got into the game. The Lions dropped their seventh straight Thanksgiving game, losing 29-22 to the Packers. Converting just 1 of 5 fourth-down tries didn’t help the cause. Especially the failed fake punt from their own 23-yard line that led to an easy touchdown. Jared Goff fumbled a career-high three times, one of which was returned for a defensive touchdown. We could either chalk it up to the "Thanksgiving curse" or we can say that the Lions are vulnerable, especially on defense. I personally feel there’s only one way for the Lions to move and that’s down. They better torch the Saints this week as a test to let the NFC and their fans know.  7. Jacksonville (8-3) In a tight AFC South matchup, the Jags snuck out a win over the up-and-coming Texans in Houston. Jacksonville has found some great success with Calvin Ridley in the last few weeks and is beginning to find a new kind of offensive rhythm. Trevor Lawrence threw for 364 yards and accounted for two touchdowns as the Jaguars improved to 6-0 away from home and avenged an earlier loss to the Texans by winning, 24-21, in Houston. Brandon McManus made 3 of 4 field goals while counterpart Matt Ammendola missed both his attempts, including a would-be, game-tying, 58-yarder in the final minute. Their adaptability and talent level could make them a difficult team to beat down the stretch.  8. Miami (8-3)  The Dolphins, like the Cowboys, are a team that struggles to beat the upper-echelon of NFL teams. They have some tremendous talent on both sides of the ball, but they have just not been able to come away with wins in tough matchups. This week they thumped the Jets, but who hasn't? Jevon Holland returned a Hail Mary interception 99 yards the other way for one of the craziest touchdowns in NFL history — the most memorable moment of a 34-13 win against the Jets in the inaugural “Black Friday” game. Raheem Mostert ran for two touchdowns to offset two interceptions thrown by Tua Tagovailoa. This week they should beat up on the Commanders and we’ll still know very little.  9. Pittsburgh (7-4)  The Steelers are forever confusing. They are tough defensively most of the time, but the offense has been abysmal. Last Sunday however, the Steelers posted their first 400-yard game of the season, just days after parting ways with former offensive coordinator Matt Canada. Coincidence? I think not. In their first game since firing offensive coordinator Canada, the Steelers snapped a 58-game streak of not gaining 400 yards by tallying 421 in a 16-10 win against the Bengals. Najee Harris scored a touchdown, and Chris Boswell kicked three field goals. The defense sacked Jake Browning four times in his first career NFL start. If this version of the Steelers is for real, they could be a viable contender for the division. That and they still have their defense and a great Coach.   10. Cleveland (7-4)  Everyone knows that the Browns have a great defense. What we still don't know is what is going to happen with the quarterback situation in Cleveland. For all the success the Cleveland Browns have had in the face of adversity, at some point all the injuries were just going to be too much to overcome. What the Browns have accomplished without their starting quarterback (Deshaun Watson) and best offensive player (running back Nick Chubb) is impressive. Dorian Thompson-Robinson has been almost serviceable, but it is clear that they need more. Do they turn to Joe Flacco or do they just hope for the best with a rookie? What they do will be a huge indicator of what is to come. Their defense is what wins games in December.   

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NFL Top 10 Poll - Week 12

Wednesday, Nov 22, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving   Before we tuck into some turkey, here are the Week 12 power rankings. It was another wild weekend in the NFL which made it more difficult than ever. This week of play will certainly separate the has from the has no chance at the playoffs.   1. Philadelphia (9-1) Things did not look great at halftime on Monday night, but the defense clamped down in the second half, Jalen Hurts found a way to move the ball despite A.J. Brown being blanketed, and the Eagles came out on top in a game that lived up to the hype. The Philadelphia Eagles not only exacted a measure of revenge against Kansas City, but they remained on top of the NFC. Philadelphia has one of the best rosters in the league with few vulnerabilities.The Eagles made huge plays when they needed it most. Especially DeVonta Smith. He showed up…..big time! The Eagles next face desperate Buffalo with games against the 49ers and Cowboys on the horizon. If anyone is going to catch Philadelphia in the NFC, it will happen over the next few weeks. 2. San Francisco (7-3)  After a three-game skid, the San Francisco 49ers have decisively won their past two games. Offensively, QB Brock Purdy has reinserted himself into the MVP conversation after two stellar weeks. Blame the bots for all this "Brock Purdy isn't good" talk. That just ain't real. However, Brock Purdy had a perfect passer rating in that game, throwing for 333 yards and three touchdowns on just 25 attempts. Over the last five games, a span that includes two of their losses, Purdy has averaged a respectable 10 yards per attempt. Defensively, the addition of DE Chase Young has improved San Francisco’s already dangerous pass rush. When they are firing on all cylinders, the 49ers are the league’s most complete team.  3. Baltimore (8-3) The Baltimore Ravens are always good, which makes their current level of success a near expectation. Their defense is among the league’s best, and QB Lamar Jackson is an MVP contender. The story of the game last week was Joe Burrow’s season-ending injury, but the Ravens lost Mark Andrews to what could also be a season-ending blow earlier in the game. The Ravens win, but Mark Andrews gets hurt. The Ravens have persevered though so many injuries. What's one more? Unfortunately, the loss of TE Mark Andrews will reduce the reliability and ceiling of Jackson’s passing attack. That’s why they’ve fallen below the 49ers in our rankings. Baltimore begins its toughest schedule stretch in Week 15 in Jacksonville. 4. Dallas (7-3) The Dallas Cowboys have been favored by a combined 27.5 points in these last two games, and they have won them by a combined 55 points. That's all you can ask for. The Cowboys have won four of their last five games while Dak Prescott has inserted himself into the MVP conversation. Prescott’s passing attack and the Cowboys’ premium pass rush are the team’s two biggest strengths. Those are the primary reasons why Dallas has won six games by at least three scores. Up next, one last game as a heavy favorite on Thursday before the schedule picks back up in a big way. Prescott gets a showcase game against Washington’s secondary before Dallas’ schedule stiffens up. From Week 13 to Week 17, they play the Seahawks, Eagles, Bills, Dolphins, and Lions. Dallas will need Dak Prescott to keep up his recent excellent form during that run. 5. Kansas City (7-3) The offensive concerns that have plagued this team since their blowout of the Bears were on full display in the second half against the Eagles. The offense went punt, punt, fumble, punt, punt, turnover on downs on their second-half possessions. They have not scored in the second half of a game since their fourth-quarter touchdown against the Chargers back in Week 7. Similar to their loss to the Lions on opening night, poorly timed drops cost the Kansas City Chiefs a win over the Eagles. Kansas City’s defense continues to perform at an elite level. Patrick Mahomes is still the best that there is. Receiver drops were a killer down the stretch vs. Philly. This defense is good, Patrick Mahomes is amazing, and betting on Andy Reid turning this offense around seems safe. Still, this loss highlights the issues Kansas City will have against good teams this year and how important it is for them to add quality receivers. However, his supporting cast of pass catchers continues to cost Kansas City against premium opponents. That’s why the Chiefs have fallen behind the 49ers and Ravens in our rankings. Kansas City faces two beatable opponents before it hosts Buffalo in Week 14. 6. Miami (7-3) So much talk about the Dolphins offense, you almost forget they have Jalen Ramsey. The elite CB made folks remember Sunday. The Miami Dolphins’ defense is better today than it was on opening day. That group, led by Jalen Ramsey, spearheaded their win against the Raiders. The Dolphins’ high-powered offense has back-to-back mediocre showings. If Miami is going to make any noise this season, its offense will drive that outcome. The offense’s mediocre play in the past two weeks is why the Dolphins have slid in our rankings. The Dolphins have a nice run of winnable games to sharpen up before they get the Cowboys, Ravens, and Bills to close out the season. 7. Detroit (8-2)  The Lions did everything they could to lose to the Bears, but they managed to score 17 points in the final three minutes to come away with a 31-26 victory. The Detroit Lions escaped with the win after being borderline dominated by Chicago for 57 minutes. To his credit, Jared Goff’s passing attack stormed back late in an otherwise subpar showing. On the positive side, the Lions are top-five in passing yards and rushing yards per game, making their offense one of the league’s most balanced. There's something fun about Aidan Hutchinson, a Michigan man and Michigan native, helping the Lions become elite. On the negative side, Detroit’s defense has given up 64 points in its past two games. What’s more concerning is the Lions’ defense hasn’t played well against an average or better opponent since Week 1. Similarly, the Lions haven’t beaten a .500 or better team since their one-point win in Kansas City on opening night. Detroit is a good football team, but its record is inflated by a soft schedule. 8. Houston (6-4) On the day when C.J. Stroud finally made some mistakes, his defense was there to pick him up. The Texans survived a tough, three-interception game from QB C.J. Stroud to log a win against a Cardinals team. Stroud’s offense was productive in the air and on the ground last week against the Cardinals. Turnovers kept Arizona within striking distance, but they also forced the Houston Texans’ defense to win a game. We talk a ton about C.J. Stroud in this space, but how 'bout the job DeMeco Ryans has done as Ryans' defense stood tall every time. The Texans are young, but they have become a more well-rounded team as the season has progressed. Houston will host the Jaguars this week in a matchup with massive AFC South ramifications. 9. Jacksonville (7-3)  We expected a spike week out of QB Trevor Lawrence last week, and that’s what we got against the Titans. Trevor Lawrence looked as good as he has all season. That’s good because the Texans are breathing down their neck in the division, and the Jaguars have to go to Houston this week. With one loss already to the Texans, the Jaguars need that game. When Slide Rid plays like that, the Jags are tough to stop. Overall, the Jacksonville Jaguars have won six of their past seven games, but Houston blew them out 37-17 in Week 3. Whoever wins this upcoming game will be in the driver’s seat for the AFC South crown. After a tough four-game stretch, the Jaguars finish the year against three sub-.500 teams. 10. Cleveland (7-3)  The Cleveland Browns are a solid quarterback away from being a contender. That’s been their reality all season. Unfortunately, Deshaun Watson is out for the rest of the season, leaving them with options like rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson and 38-year-old Joe Flacco. The Browns signed Joe Flacco to the practice squad. He was rough last season with the Jets, but Cleveland has to try something. Cleveland’s defense is good enough to get it into the playoffs, but the quarterback situation caps its upside. Dorian Thompson-Robinson gets his first professional win so he remains the starter.

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NCAA Football Top 10 Poll - Week 13

Tuesday, Nov 21, 2023

It was a wild week 12 in college football.  College Football Playoff hopefuls like Georgia, Ohio State, Alabama, and Oregon took care of business. However, we saw several Playoff contenders seemingly have their backs against the wall in tough road matchups on Saturday with Washington going to the wire with Oregon State, Louisville doing the same with Miami, Texas having early trouble at Iowa State, and perhaps most shockingly with Michigan holding on against Maryland. Let’s check out the Top 10…..  1. Georgia Georgia has now demolished three top-20 ranked teams in a row, including two-score victories over top-10 teams. Georgia has now won 28 straight games under Kirby Smart. Much like they've done throughout the season, the Bulldogs punished a quality opponent for the third straight week, this time doing so on the road. Georgia knocked Tennessee out fairly easily after a poor defensive play to begin the game. After the Bulldogs gave up a touchdown on the opening drive, Georgia outscored Tennessee 38-3 over the rest of the game. Carson Beck has elevated his game, Brock Bowers is back and this Bulldogs’ defense is rounding into form. Georgia quarterback Carson Beck threw for 298 yards and three scores -- with only six incompletions in the Tennessee hostile environment. Beck and Georgia will go on the road once again this week, as the Bulldogs travel to Atlanta to play the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Georgia should be favored to three-peat now. Georgia is the best team in the nation. 2. Michigan In Week 12, the Wolverines played a lot more like a program led by an inexperienced coach with a locker room that was looking ahead to Ohio State. It nearly cost Michigan its entire season. Michigan overcame a couple turnovers and not its best effort offensively to improve to 11-0 ahead of next week's showdown. The Wolverines will take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in a huge Big Ten regular season matchup before the Big Ten Championship. Michigan held off upset-minded Maryland without Jim Harbaugh. Michigan led by 13 points at halftime before the Terrapins pulled back in it within five points following Billy Edwards' third touchdown run with 16 seconds left in the third quarter. The winner of this game will take on Iowa with a chance to make the College Football Playoff. The loser won't win any championship this year. The Wolverines’ panic meter is high right now. 3. Ohio St The stage is now set for the best college football game this season. Ohio State might come into this one even more confident after seeing how McCarthy and the Wolverines’ offense has fared in the last two weeks. As for Ohio State, they rolled as a 30-point favorite with a dismantling of the Golden Gophers at Ohio Stadium. TreVeyon Henderson gashed the opposition for 146 yards and two touchdowns on just 15 carries, while Marvin Harrison Jr. added another score to his Big Ten-leading receiving totals. Kyle McCord threw two touchdown passes. Ohio State defeated Notre Dame but that won't be enough to help them get into the College Football Playoff with a loss to Michigan. The Buckeyes need this one just as much as Michigan does. One thing that seems evident, the 2023 Ohio State vs Michigan game likely won’t be nearly as high-scoring as previous matchups. The wins sets up this week's matchup of unbeatens with the winner of Ohio State-Michigan moving on to the conference championship game against Iowa. 4. Washington Another week, another close win for Washington. It wasn’t pretty, especially for the defense and the second-half offense, but the Washington Huskies kept their undefeated season intact on Saturday night. The Huskies stayed unbeaten with fourth-quarter magic defensively on the road. Washington shows up in the big games and squeaks by in the less-hyped matchups. Washington won't be playing any more less-hyped games this season. That's good news for the Huskies. Michael Penix Jr. wasn't at his best, but it was good enough for the Pac-12 leaders after he tossed a pair of touchdown passes. Washington picked off DJ Uiagalelei twice and managed to win despite Damien Martinez's 126-yard rushing performance on the opposite sideline. Washington is playing for its Playoff spot the next two weekends after locking in a Pac-12 title game berth. The Huskies have a playoff resume and with two more wins, they’ll be the No. 3 seed in the CFP Semifinal. 5. Florida State   Devastating. That’s the only way to describe the Jordan Travis injury for the Florida State Seminoles. FSU avoided a catastrophic upset, but did suffer an unfortunate situation in the first half of its win over North Alabama after quarterback Jordan Travis was carted off with an injury. Losing Travis will hurt. But if Florida State wants to make the College Football Playoff, they'll need to beat Florida and Louisville in their next two games. Do that, and they'll be in, even without Travis. Given how much he means to this Seminoles team, it's certainly deflating for the ACC frontrunners this late in the season with a College Football Playoff berth on the horizon with two more victories. FSU will move forward with Tate Rodemaker under center it appears. FSU trailed at one point, 13-0, before scoring the game's final 58 points in last week’s game.  6. Oregon The Oregon Ducks still find themselves needing a few dominoes to fall their way to earn a spot in the CFP Semifinal. However, the Ducks can likely push for a top-five spot next weekend with a victory in the Civil War over Oregon State and the loser of Michigan vs Ohio State dropping in the college football rankings. Bo Nix is continuing to do everything in his power to lead this season's Heisman voting entering rivalry week after a near-perfect performance on the road. Nix tossed three of his six touchdown passes in the first quarter as the Ducks built a 42-point lead at halftime en route to a blowout. Bo Nix is looking for that Heisman Award. After six passing touchdowns, the Ducks rolled past Arizona State. Oregon will play Oregon State next week with a chance to keep its playoff hopes alive with a win. Oregon might not necessarily have the best resume of the top teams, but an 11-1 record with a Heisman Trophy finalist should at least get them in the debate for a top-four spot. If Oregon finishes 12-1 with a conference title under its belt, the resume will be sparkling. 7. Alabama The Alabama Crimson Tide have just been a different football team since coming out of the locker room at halftime against Tennessee. In the last 14 quarters, the Crimson Tide have outscored opponents by a +125 point margin, demonstrating they are one of the best teams in college football. Alabama's win against Chattanooga will keep them at No. 7. Why, why, why do the get to not only play cupcake teams but they only play 8 conference games while others play nine? Meanwhile, Jalen Milroe tossed three touchdown passes, all coming in the first half, as the Crimson Tide handled Chattanooga prior to next week’s Iron Bowl against Auburn. Speaking of those rival Tigers, Hugh Freeze’s team dropped a home game against New Mexico State and will come into their biggest game of the campaign limping quite a bit. If Nick Saban's team wins out and beats an unbeaten Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, chances are high they're going to the playoff. The Oddsmakers set the line todays and opened up Georgia Bulldogs at - 4.5. 8. Texas There weren’t a ton of style points racked up by the Teas Longhorns on Saturday night, but they battled on the road to take out an Iowa State Cyclones team that has always given them problems. The Longhorns earned a 26-16 win over Iowa State. That'll do. After one of Iowa State's veteran offensive linemen took a shot the Longhorns this week, Texas took things personal on the road. Quinn Ewers has started looking more comfortable in his second game back and CJ Baxter stepped up, too. Ewers had two touchdown throws in the second half, including a 31-yarder to Gunnar Helm early in the fourth quarter that pushed the Longhorns' lead to 23-9. After Iowa State responded, the Longhorns went on a clock-eating six-minute drive to push ahead by 10 and put it away. 9. Louisville Behind three touchdown passes from Jack Plummer and a late stand defensively, Louisville clinched its first trip to the ACC Championship Game since joining the conference in 2014 with a win over the Hurricanes. The Louisville Cardinals are headed to the ACC Championship with just one loss this season. They'll have to prepare for a tough matchup against Kentucky first. Given their automatic placement in the ACC, even if the Cardinals lose to FSU in two weeksin the league finale, Louisville is likely heading to the Orange Bowl after a spectacular first season under coach Jeff Brohm. 10. Missouri   Missouri kicker Harrison Mevis nailed a chip-shot field goal with five seconds left to help the Tigers stave off the Gators. Florida thought it was in position to become bowl-eligible, but the Tigers converted a long fourth down on their final possession after Brady Cook found Luther Burden down the middle of the field. The Tigers escaped the Florida Gators with a game-winning field goal. It wasn't pretty, but wins are hard to come by in the SEC. Missouri found a way. Hats off to Missouri, a deep team that has proven it’s one of the 10 best college football teams in 2023. The victory keeps Missouri in line for a possible Cotton Bowl berth if the Tigers beat Arkansas next week.

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NFL Top 10 Poll - Week 11

Friday, Nov 17, 2023

With a third of the season remaining, all we’ve learned is that “on any given Sunday” it still applies.  1. Philadelphia (8-1) The Eagles are at the top of the NFL power rankings because they only have one loss and quality wins against the Dolphins and Cowboys. Analytically speaking, other teams are more well-rounded. But Philadelphia knows how to win when things are ugly. Philadelphia has lost the Super Bowl, World Series, and Taylor Swift in the last year. That's a tough scene, but the Birds are in a good position to redeem the City of Brotherly Love if they can stay healthy. The defense has weak points. Their offense does not. The offensive line is dominant. Jalen Hurts is playing incredibly well, and they possess an endless reserve of weapons. 2. San Francisco (6-3) That is certainly one way to get back on track. The 49ers absolutely dominated the Jaguars Sunday. That’s more like it. Brock Purdy did not turn the ball over, the enhanced front seven generated consistent pressure, and the 49ers demolished what was a 6-2 Jagaurs squad on the road. They looked like a completely different team with Trent Williams and Deebo Samuel back on the field with each other. The 49ers' defense looked like their defense again in a throttling of the red-hot Jaguars. Put the word out that the 49ers are back. 3. Kansas City (7-2)  The Kansas City Chiefs don’t feel as dominant in 2023 as we’re used to seeing, but they’re incredibly well-rounded. They’re having a down year offensively. They rank fifth in EPA, and their per-play rate is much lower than usual. It will be a Super Bowl rematch and battle of current No. 1 seeds when the Eagles travel to Kansas City on Monday night. While that game might be more important to Philly given their schedule after it, the Chiefs offense has something to prove given their lackluster start, and Kansas City cannot afford to give up any ground in the top-heavy AFC. The Ravens, Bengals, and Jaguars all lost in Week 10. Even on the bye, Patrick Mahomes can't stop winning. But their defense also ranks fifth in EPA. Steve Spagnuolo has a unit that got going immediately in 2023, rather than their usual slow start before becoming a top-half defense. 4. Baltimore (7-3) A tipped interception from Lamar Jackson and a strip sack that bounced right back into the Browns’ hands were two huge plays late that completely changed the direction of this game. However, this does give the Ravens two losses inside the division, which is not good, considering how tight the AFC North race is at the moment. The Ravens have lost seven games with Lamar Jackson as their starter in the last two seasons. Per current win probability, they had at least a 75 percent chance to win in each of those games. That can't continue to be a trend in Charm City. This team is still one of the best in the league, but they need to find a fix for their -17 fourth-quarter scoring margin. 5. Miami (6-3)  The Miami Dolphins have arguably the most dangerous offense in the NFL, and their defense has looked completely different in the two games that Jalen Ramsey has played in. If they can get Jaelan Phillips back healthy for the home stretch, this team could really run away and hide with the AFC East. The Dolphins are plus +109 in their six wins against teams below .500. They are minus-49 in their three losses that came against above-500 teams. 'Fins are electric, but they need to show they can beat the cream of the crop to be taken seriously as a title contender. The Dolphins have another run of games against lower-tier teams over the next five weeks before finishing with the Cowboys, Ravens, and Bills. We will likely have the same questions about this team until those final three games. 6. Detroit (7-2) Dan Campbell and the Lions might have single-handedly ended Brandon Staley's run with the Chargers. Congratulations are in order for the Lions. They decided that defense would be optional against the Chargers, but they got away with it. Jared Goff was great, and the Lions’ rushing attack had a field day against the Chargers. At least, Detroit's 41-point, 533-yard performance should be the final nail in his LA coffin. Given what the Eagles have next up on the schedule, the Lions have a realistic path to the No. 1 seed. The Motor City Kitties are for real and are live to get the top seed in the NFC. 7. Dallas (6-3) Dak Prescott made a horrible decision late in the first quarter when he was fooled by the Giants showing blitz and dropping into coverage instead. Outside of that one decision, Prescott and his pass seasoned catchers were flawless. Dallas has beaten the Giants (twice), the Jets, the Patriots, the Rams, and the Chargers. They have two more easy games before they get the Seahawks, Eagles, Bills, Dolphins, and Lions five weeks in a row. That run will tell the story of Dallas’ season. The Cowboys have lost to the Eagles, 49ers, and Cardinals. Not a sterling resume for a team that fancies itself a Super Bowl contender. It won’t be a shock to anyone if the coach puts a nail into the coffin with bad decisions and calling the plays.  8. Cincinnati (5-4) The Cincinnati Bengals had a few missed opportunities late. But while usually losing to the Texans would be seen as a black eye on the calendar, that Houston team is different. A loss to a red-hot C.J. Stroud won't shakeFrodo  my faith in the Bengals. This is the third straight season they've started 5-4. I expect a similar finish as the last two. Now they get the Ravens on a short week. The margin for error is just so small for this team in the loaded AFC. A loss here finishes them and the Bengals know how to lose in Primetime night games.  9. Jacksonville (6-3) One game does not make or break a season. However, what looked like an easy stroll to the AFC South title looks a bit uncomfortable now with how Houston has played since their surprising loss to the Panthers. The Jaguars were embarrassed at home by the 49ers, losing 34-3 and getting nothing done on offense. The passing game has disappointed this season, and Trevor Lawrence ranks 27th among 33 eligible quarterbacks. Trevor Lawrence has more turnovers than touchdowns this season. The Jags need the "generational talent" to start playing like it if they want to reach their ceiling. 10. Cleveland (6-3) Deshaun Watson went 14-for-14 for 139 yards and a touchdown in the second half of the Browns' comeback win over the Ravens. It's the best he has looked in a Browns uniform. Cleveland’s defense allowed 6.1 yards per play, but they played relatively well outside of a few big plays. The Browns’ offense commanded the ball, outgained the Ravens, and moved the chains more often. And against an impressive Ravens defense, the Browns converted 8 of 16 third downs.The Browns have proven they can win games with lackluster quarterback play, but they face a tough road the rest of the way. I need to see more of that before I can elevate Cleveland from "Frisky Team With A Good Defense" to the "Legitimate Contender" category. It's a positive development, though. 

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NCAA Football Top 10 Poll - Week 12

Wednesday, Nov 15, 2023

We’re down to five undefeated teams. As conference play ramps up and teams beat up on each other, the Selection Committee will be booed and chastised trying to figure out their Top Four teams.  1. Georgia (10-0) Back in pole position after taking down Ole Miss, the defending champs are now the No. 1 team in college football in all major rankings. Georgia continues to look dominant. Someone still has to prove that they can beat the Bulldogs. Brock Bowers came back and looked pretty decent. It was the Bulldogs’ second-straight victory over a top-25 opponent after beating No. 12 Missouri a week ago. The defending back-to-back champions have an opportunity to make it three in a row this week at Tennessee.  2. Michigan (10-0) That was an absolute rugged slugfest of a win over Penn State. Michigan prevailed without Jim Harbaugh, but the game was pretty remarkable when you dig into it. Whether or not Jim Harbaugh is on the sideline, the Wolverines are the apparent favorites to make it a three-peat in the Big Ten title race. Michigan went on the road and took down No. 10 Penn State, 24-15, on Saturday. The Wolverines ran all over the Nittany Lions and only attempted one pass the entire second half. 3. Ohio St (10-0) Is Kyle McCord good enough of a quarterback to win a national championship? The Buckeyes' defense is good enough. I believe they're good enough at the skill positions. College football's second-best scoring defense came through in a big win against Michigan State. Marvin Harrison Jr. continues to be the hottest receiver in the country, catching seven passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns while scoring once on the ground as well. Since Week 6, the junior’s 727 receiving yards and nine receiving touchdowns lead all players in college football. He’ll have an opportunity to further pad his stats this week against a Minnesota team that’s coming off back-to-back losses to Illinois and Purdue.  4. Washington (10-0) So, Washington is No. 4. It's obvious what you love about Washington. You love its quarterback, passing game and head coach. Michael Penix Jr. would be your Heisman Trophy winner as of today. If Washington remains undefeated, he'll win the Heisman. The win against ranked Utah and that tough defense was enough for the BCS computers to bump the Huskies up a spot. Washington was able to outlast No. 18 Utah 35-28 on Saturday. Despite having the 11th-highest run rate in the country (60.2%), the Utes only ran the ball on 43.8% of their plays against the Huskies.  5. Florida St (10-0) I'm a big fan of Florida State, but of these teams, they have been the least consistent. It wasn’t always pretty, but Florida State survived a 27-20 scare from Miami (FL) this past weekend. Down a spot and out of the top four of these rankings after two close wins, but the Seminoles have already booked a spot in the ACC title bout. I love Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis. He has the luxury of throwing to Keon Coleman, who is outrageous as a talent. Their defense is good. 6. Alabama (9-1) Would it shock me if Alabama won the national championship this season? Clinched the SEC West by smashing Kentucky and suddenly the Tide is back in the playoff chase in November.Alabama demolished Kentucky 49-21 off a masterclass from Jalen Milroe. The redshirt sophomore accounted for six total touchdowns against the Wildcats – three passing and three rushing. His 90.5 grade on the season is tied with Caleb Williams for eighth among all quarterbacks in the country.Here inlays the problem with the SEC. They only play 8 conference games while the other conferences play nine. Thus; another cupcake opponent towards the end of the season. He has an opportunity to put up more monster numbers against Chattanooga this week, an FCS school. 7. Oregon (9-1) Bo Nix outdueled Caleb Williams in a game that very well could’ve been between last year’s Heisman Trophy winner and this year’s. Nix earned an 85.6 passing grade in the 36-27 win as he threw for 412 yards, four touchdowns and a pair of big-time throws. Beating the Trojans isn't that hard right now, but the Ducks can change the narrative if they make the Pac-12 title game. I'm picking the Ducks to win the Pac-12 and play in the College Football Playoff. Bo Nix is the most experienced quarterback in the history of college football. Oregon's fast on the outside, and its coaching staff is aggressive. I wish that it could stop with all of these ridiculous two-point conversions.  8. Texas (9-1) There's a lot to like about Texas, particularly with Quinn Ewers back. He played really well and the Longhorns were running away with Saturday's game, but what concerns me about them is that they always seem to have these stretches within games where they allow teams to come back on them. While the Longhorns got their starting quarterback back, they suffered a devastating loss on offense as well. Star running back Jonathon Brooks tore his ACL in the victory and will miss the rest of the season. Even though Texas returned Quinn Ewers, it still endured a near-upset from TCU this past weekend, winning 29-26. The win against Alabama is huge in the committee's view and at one loss the Longhorns have a path to the playoff if they win the Big 12. 9. Missouri (8-2) After a tough loss on the road, Mizzou stumbled out of the gate at home with Tennessee jumping out to a 7-3 lead. It seemed to provide a wake-up call for the Tigers, who went on a stellar run that put this game out of reach by the third quarter. Missouri remains on track for its first season with double-digit wins since 2014. After cpoming up short against Georgia a week ago, Missouri responded in a major way with a 36-7 win over No. 13 Tennessee. Now second in the SEC East after inching up the rankings following a statement win against Tennessee. If Missouri is able to win its final two games, it could be playing in its first New Year’s Six bowl since 2013. 10. Louisville (9-1) The Louisville Cardinals sit at 9-1 following their 31-24 win over Virginia this past weekend. Jeff Brohm's team has the top-ranked defense in the ACC, holding opponents to just 17.1 points per game, while putting up 32.7 points and 439 yards per contest on the offensive side of the ball. The Cardinals are inching closer to the ACC Championship Game but games at Miami and against Kentucky are not sure things. Louisville can’t have another letdown performance if it wants to continue its dream season as it must travel on the road to face Miami, a game in which the Cardinals are only favored by 1.5 points.

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NFL Top 10 Rankings: Week 10

Friday, Nov 10, 2023

It might be our top 2 choices that meet in the Super Bowl. There’s still much grind left on the gridiron.   1. Philadelphia Eagles (8-1) The Eagles now have the best record in the NFL, but it’s fair to wonder if they’re the best team. Their defense continues to struggle, as they allowed Sam Howell to look like Joe Montana two weeks ago. They were also outgained by a decent margin versus the Cowboys. They may have lost if it wasn’t for some terrible Dallas variance at the goal line. The Cowboys had 1st and goal at the six yard line. (Go figure how they lost). The Eagles were in a classic tough NFC East battle with the Cowboys but their offense struck the right balance and their pass rush and run defense up front saved their secondary. Jalen Hurts and Philadelphia keep flexing as reigning NFC champions. After a bye this week, the Eagles face the Chiefs, Bills, 49ers, Cowboys and Seahawks over the next five weeks. 2. Baltimore Ravens (7-2) The Ravens have destroyed both the Lions and Seahawks in two of the past three weeks, and now they have a dynamic speed threat coming out of their backfield in Keaton Mitchell. It’s fair to argue that the Ravens are the best team in the NFL. It’s currently between the Eagles and Ravens this week. The Ravens are doing their best to prove they're the new team beat in the AFC with dominant defense and running game, not even needing too much from Lamar Jackson to roll opponents. John Harbaugh has done a great job meshing the team's new versatile identity with the old-school successful foundation.They just defeated and dominated the Seahawks winning 37-3. How dominant were the Ravens on Sunday? They gained 515 yards … and gave up 151. They outgained and crushed the Seahawks on the ground, 298-28. Cleveland is up next. 3. Kansas City Chiefs (7-2)   They went to Germany to sneak out with a win over the Dolphins, 21-14. Following that trip, the Chiefs have a bye this week and then face the Eagles on Monday Night Football in Week 11. The Chiefs offense has been underwhelming recently, but they have the ability to hit the on switch at any given time. Their defense has been impressive, limiting Miami to just 14 points. It’s somewhat unbelievable that their defense is carrying them. The Chiefs' offense isn't a well-oiled machine between Patrick Mahomes' passing and inconsistent running, especially when Travis Kelce is contained. But luckily, Chris Jones and the defense keep taking care of business. 4. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-2)   The number 1 question is that everyone is wondering if the Jags blew their momentum by having last week’s bye. The Jaguars enjoyed a bye, the only thing that could completely keep them from building on their five-game winning streak. Jacksonville also is proving to be a complete NFC contender with Trevor Lawrence not totally in the groove yet. The Jaguars suddenly have the longest winning streak in the conference. They’re also tied with the Chiefs, Ravens, and Dolphins for the best record in the conference. Heading into Week 8, they were just one of four teams that could claim to be in the top 10 of both offense and defense EPA. We’ll see how their bye worked out as San Francisco comes to Jacksonville.  5. Detroit Lions (6-2)   The Lions are the other felines off a bye and can feel great about their chances to compete with the other NFC heavyweights in the second half and into the playoffs. But first they have work to do as the Vikings won't go away. The Lions are heading to So Cal to take on a talented but inconsistent Chargers team. The Lions had a nice bounce-back win last Monday night, albeit against the terrible Raiders. Still, the Lions were missing 40 percent of their offensive line, and Amon-Ra St. Brown may not have been 100 percent, so the victory must be seen as a positive. However, they are coming off their week off as a favorite. We shall see if the oddsmakers know something or trapping someone.  6. Cincinnati Bengals (5-3)  The Bengals defeated the Bills, 24-18 last week. The sharps bet against Joe Burrow, but Burrow proved them wrong against the Bills. It’s not out of the question that the Bengals could run the table and finish with one of the best records in the NFL. The only thing in their way is their entire division. Everyone is qualified for the playoffs at this time. The Bengals once again owned the Bills offensively and defensively with a fully healthy Joe Burrow at the helm and great scheming vs. Josh Allen. They're all the way back as a Super Bowl threat. This team has won four straight games and looked very good in the process. They better not look past quarterback CJ and the Texans to their showdown with the Ravens, however. 7. Dallas Cowboys (5-3)   Dallas lost to Philadelphia, 28-23 last week in a key division game. Many say the play calling along with mistakes cost them as the couldn’t get in having it 1st and goal from the six yard line. The Cowboys were the better team in their battle against the Eagles. They outgained Philadelphia, 406-292, and they averaged nearly one more yard per play. They were just inches shy of the goal line twice. Variance was not their friend in Week 9. The Cowboys went toe-to-toe with the Eagles and Dak Prescott was up to the challenge to duel with Hurts. But unfortunately, they had defensive breakdowns at the wrong time and that may continue to haunt them against the NFC powers. Dallas has looked unbeatable at home this season, but the Cowboys are 2-3 away from home. Fortunately, they’re at home this Sunday playing the NY Giants.   8. Miami Dolphins (6-3)   In another big game and another big loss for the Dolphins, who were down 21-0 before a late charge, they lost to Kansas City 21-14. Now the word is out that it’s hard to take Miami seriously until it wins a big game. The Dolphins' defense hung in there well to keep Mahomes and Kelce in check in Frankfurt, but the offense didn't travel to Germany beyond Raheem Mostert and the running game. Tua Tagovailoa is still searching for that big win vs. a big team. In any “big game”, maybe containing Tyreek Hill is the key to beating the Dolphins? He "only" had eight catches for 62 yards on Sunday. Or maybe it doesn’t take much to defeat the fish. They get a bye this week.  9. Seattle Seahawks (5-3)   The Seahawks ran into a buzzsaw against angrier birds in Baltimore. They're still strong in terms of the weaker NFC playoff picture, but they simply don't have the firepower with Geno Smith to hang when their defense wilts. It’s certainly not 2022 for their current quarterback. We thought that the Seahawks would lose to the Ravens, but we didn't think they wouldn't show up. They’re obviously not out of playoff contention after the 49ers blanked the past three weeks. They looked pitiful trying to contend with the Ravens. Geno Smith was a complete disaster, failing to complete half of his passes and committing multiple turnovers. Is it time to go to their backup? They play host on Sunday to the Commanders.  10. San Francisco 49ers (5-3)   San Francisco entered the bye week in NFL Week 9 coming off three losses. It’s hard to penalize the 49ers for these recent losses, given that Trent Williams and Deebo Samuel will return soon. They won’t be dropping from our Top 10 because of the short-term injury circumstances. In fact, maybe the should be moved up in anticipation of Williams and Samuel returning. Plus, the Chase Young addition helps. The 49ers needed to regroup during their bye with the three-game losing streak caused by their pass rush not helping their offense and Brock Purdy making too many mistakes. They will hope Chase Young provides a Christian McCaffrey-like spark. They’re playing the hottest team in the NFL and the oddsmakers opened them up as a small favorite in Jacksonville. Discussing “why” is proprietary of course at this time. 

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NCAA Football Top 10 Poll - Week 11

Tuesday, Nov 07, 2023

Michigan vs Penn St, Ole Miss vs Georgia and Oregon vs USC highlight this weekend games.   1. Michigan (9-0) We shall finally see if Michigan is worthy off the number 1 position as they have a meeting with Penn St this Saturday on the road. Meanwhile, for the ninth time in nine games, Michigan beat up a weaker opponent as it handled Purdue, 41-13, on Saturday. The Wolverines have won every game this season by at least 24 points, partially due to the fact that they still haven’t faced a top-25 team in PFF’s power rankings. On the off the gridiron news, disciplinary action is likely coming for Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh following the NCAA's investigation into sign-stealing and yesterday's resignation from staffer Connor Stalions. 2. Georgia (9-0) Georgia survived a scare from No. 12 Missouri on Saturday, escaping with a 30-21 victory. Carson Beck threw a pair of touchdown passes, Georgia scored 14 points in a decisive third quarter and the Bulldogs' championship-level defense came up with two crucial fourth-quarter interceptions to prove the difference against the upset-minded Tigers. Carson Beck continued to show why he’s one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the country. His 90.0 passing grade this season ranks sixth among all signal-callers in the country. Making that even more impressive is the fact that his top target, Brock Bowers, has missed the past two games due to an ankle injury. While the Tigers were the best team the Bulldogs have played all season, Georgia hosts a top-10 team in Ole Miss this Saturday. 3. Washington (9-0) Dillon Johnson gashed USC for 256 yards rushing and four touchdowns as the Huskies stayed unbeaten in their quest to the reach the College Football Playoff. Michael Penix added two touchdown passes to his impressive total on the season, but it was Johnson's big plays on the ground that kept the Trojans at bay. Both teams surpassed 500 yards of total offense, but it was the Huskies who came up with two late stops when they needed them the most. The Washington-USC over/under was the highest among all games this weekend at 75.5, and the over still hit by nearly 20 points. In a game that produced 1,087 yards of total offense, Washington outlasted defensless USC 52-42. Michael Penix Jr. outdueled reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams in the shootout and staked his claim as one of the top contenders for this year’s award. The sixth-year senior tossed two big-time throws without any turnover-worthy plays in the victory and his 91.4 passing grade on the season is third among all signal-callers in the country. He’ll face a much stingier defense this Saturdayin Utah. 4. Ohio St (9-0) Rutgers had Ohio State on the ropes this past weekend, as the Scarlet Knights trailed by just five in the fourth quarter. Ohio State avoided a monumental upset with 28 points in the second half, erasing a halftime deficit in a big way to stay unbeaten. Jordan Hancock's 93-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter was the backbreaker for the Scarlet Knights, who had a chance to move ahead by two possessions inside the red zone. Marvin Harrison Jr. tacked on two trips to the end zone in the fourth quarter to give him 10 on the season. That was enough for the Buckeyes to slam the door shut on a potential upset and escape with a 35-16 victory. The bad news for the Buckeyes is at their quarterback position. While C.J. Stroud dominates in his rookie campaign for the Houston Texans, his replacement in Columbus has been solid but unspectacular. Kyle McCord has as many turnover-worthy plays (12) as big-time throws this year, and his 74.6 grade ranks just 66th among FBS quarterbacks. 5. Florida State (9-0) The Seminoles played one of their most complete defensive performances of the season in a road win over the Panthers and Jordan Travis threw for 360 yards en route to a 9-0 start. FSU clinched a spot in the ACC Championship Game with the win and will likely play Louisville the first weekend of December to determine a spot in the playoff for the Seminoles. Mike Norvell and his team aren't getting ahead of themselves, however. Despite being without his top two receivers, Keon Coleman and Johnny Wilson, Jordan Travis still threw for 360 yards with a pair of big-time throws in a 24-7 win over Pittsburgh. While other top playoff contenders have difficult stretches to close out the season, the Seminoles are simply in the mode of “Don’t screw it up”. Florida State doesn’t play a ranked team until at least the ACC Championship Game, as it must face Miami (FL), North Alabama and Florida to close the season. 6. Alabama (8-1) In what ended up being an epic duel between dual-threat quarterbacks, Jalen Milroe and Alabama emerged victorious over then-No. 14 LSU, 42-28. The redshirt sophomore ran for 155 yards and four touchdowns against the Tigers, earning an 84.5 grade in the process. Milroe’s development this season has been extraordinary. Since being benched in Week 3, his 90.2 grade is fifth among all quarterbacks in the country. Fueled by Milroe's marvelous outing and a defense that only allowed seven points in the second half, Alabama moved closer to clinching another SEC West title under Nick Saban with a momentum-building win over the Tigers. Alabama scored the game's final 21 points after LSU moved ahead, 28-21, in the third quarter. Alabama was able to overcome a huge performance from LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels to avenge last season's loss to the Tigers. 7. Oregon (8-1) Bo Nix threw four touchdown passes and ran for two other scores during Oregon's blitzing of the Bears. Oregon hasn't lost since the setback to Washington last month. This week's showdown at USC is pivotal for the Ducks, who are trying to stay at the top of the Pac-12 race with Washington in hopes of a redo of sorts in December's league title game. Speaking of quarterbacks with incredible growth, that’s precisely what Oregon has in Bo Nix. The fifth-year senior endured a tumultuous three years at Auburn to begin his career but has blossomed into one of the nation’s best signal-callers after moving to Eugene. Nix’s 91.6 passing grade this season paces all quarterbacks in college football, as does his 85.1% adjusted completion rate. If Nix and the Ducks continue their success the rest of the season, a Heisman could be featured in his trophy case. 8. Texas (8-1) Texas squandered a 20-point lead in the second half, but kept pace at the top of the Big 12 title hunt with a 33-30 overtime win over Kansas State. The Longhorns dodged the potential game-tying field goal late in the fourth quarter after Chris Tennant whiffed on a 27-yard attempt, but he made up for it with one second left after nailing a 45-yarder to force overtime. The Longhorns were previously in total control behind strong performances on the ground from Jonathon Brooks and Cedric Baxter. Even though the Longhorns blew a massive lead, it was still an impressive win considering starting quarterback Quinn Ewers was once again out due to a shoulder injury. While Maalik Murphy has won two games in his stead, his performance has left plenty to be desired. The redshirt freshman has just a 52.4 passing grade this season with four big-time throws and six turnover-worthy plays. If Ewers is unable to go against TCU, it might be wise for head coach Steve Sarkisian to give Arch Manning a shot.  The true freshman was the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2023 class and is the next in line to the Manning quarterback dynasty. However, Manning might bolt to the transfer portal. 9. Penn St (8-1) After a sluggish two weeks that included a loss to Ohio State and a close win over Indiana, Penn State rebounded in a big way with a 51-15 victory over Maryland on Saturday. Penn State shook off the cobwebs quickly from last week's near-whiff against Indiana and disposed of the Terrapins without issue on the road behind four touchdown passes from Drew Allar. Kaytron Allen rushed for 91 yards and had a plunge into the end zone as the Nittany Lions improved to 8-1 and remained one game back of Big Ten East co-leaders Michigan and Ohio State coming down the stretch. Drew Allar finished with a career-high 91.3 grade on the day as the sophomore tossed a pair of big-time throws with no turnover-worthy plays. The Nittany Lions will need him and the rest of the team to find similar success this weekend as they take on undefeated Michigan in the Wolverines’ first true test of the season. 10. Ole Miss (8-1)  We almost moved the Rebels up in the poll. Depending on the outcome this Saturday, movement is definitely coming for Ole Miss whether they move forward or a team that disappears in the bottom 25. Ole Miss has quietly put together a very impressive resume thus far, beating current top-25 teams like LSU and Tulane while only losing to Alabama on the road. The Rebels’ stars were stars during a tight win over Texas A&M, one finalized after the Aggies’ potential game-tying field goal fell short of the crossbar in the final seconds. Jaxson Dart finished 24 of 33 for 387 yards and two touchdowns while Quinshon Judkins piled up 102 yards and three scores on the ground. Ole Miss was one game back of Alabama in the SEC West entering the day and battles unbeaten Georgia this weekend. Jaxson Dart is having a similarly underrated year, as his 91.0 grade is sixth among all quarterbacks in the country. Both he and the Rebels have a chance to make some serious noise this weekend against the defending back-to-back champs in Georgia.

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NFL Top 10 Poll - Week 9

Saturday, Nov 04, 2023

Is the cream of the NFL separating from the rest and able to hold their position this upcoming week? 1. Philadelphia (7-1)It’s a huge conference game this week for the Eagles as they get set to play Dallas. The Cowboys defense is fortunate that Jalen Hurts is limping heavily. The Eagles made it another wild game with the Commanders this season but they showed their offense with Jalen Hurts is fine getting it done when it can't really run. A.J. Brown seems to have become unstoppable downfield. A.J. Brown is making a case for MVP.2. Baltimore (6-2)They’re the best team in the NFL’s best division. However, they have a very difficult game this week against the Seahawks. Pete Carroll Will certainly make life miserable for Lamar and Co. The Ravens don't get a lot of style points for getting a little sloppy defensively at the end of their game at Arizona, but keep in mind they were riding the high of the Lions rout and had a mini letdown ahead of bigger matchups. Still, Lamar Jackson and the running game kept doing their thing.3. Miami (6-2)Germany gets the best game the NFL has ever exported, with a pair of top-five teams as the Dolphins meet the Chiefs. The Dolphins took care of their trap game at home against the Patriots by unleashing their usual brand of offense, backed by key improved pressure and coverage defense. It will be fun when Mahomes and Hill are on the same field again in Frankfurt. Watch out, autobahn.4. Jacksonville (6-2)Having their bye week at the pinnacle of their hot streak is somewhat unlucky for the Jags. The Jaguars are the hottest team in the AFC, having won five consecutive games. They have taken care of the Bills and Steelers far away from Jacksonville along the way. The defense keeps making key plays and the offense gets it done however it feels with Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne. Only the bye cools them off. A San Francisco showdown — and potential Super Bowl preview — is coming after their bye. It’ll be interesting to see how they respond after this layoff. 5. Kansas City (6-2)It was eventual that Patrick Mahomes would lose to a losing team and also lose to the Broncos. He got it out of his system with a turnover mess in Denver that set up their first loss since Week 1. Perhaps they were also caught looking ahead to the track meet with the team now right behind them in Germany next week. Will the Chiefs develop any viable option in the passing game after Travis Kelce? Does having Taylor Swift as the number 1 media sensation help Kelce and the team or distract them?6. Dallas (5-2)They’ve quietly developed the best home-field advantage in the league. The Cowboys tend to rock after a bye with Dak Prescott and he was the big reason for the massive victory over the Rams. Prescott had his best passing game, confident throwing everywhere downfield. The defense and special teams got back into their complementary mojo, too. The Cowboys defense should be able to contain Jalen Hurts as he’s limping badly the past few days. It’s the Cowboys must win game of their year. 7. San Francisco (5-3)That win over the Cowboys seems like it was a very long time ago. The elapsed time will actually seem much longer as they enter their bye week. The 49ers have hit a low with a three-game losing streak. It's all tied to Brock Purdy coming down to earth and making more mistakes than big plays. He is still using his weapons well but they do miss Deebo Samuel. The bigger question is, what happened to the defense dominating?8. Seattle (5-2)What a difference a year makes in the NFL. Geno Smith hasn't quite lit it up. The running game is up and down. The defense is trying to figure out more answers after a slow start. Yet, the Seahawks, thanks to the 49ers losing, are in first place in the division. They'll get a good test in Baltimore this week to see just how complete they are this time under Pete Carroll. We’ll find out who they are starting on Thanksgiving, when the 49ers come to town.9. Buffalo (5-3)This game this week in Cincinnati should bring up many memories. The Bills went back to letting Josh Allen loose with his running and passing and it got the offense somewhat going again, with major help from a traditional rushing attack. But the defense still is undergoing transitional pains vs. the pass. And Burrows is coming around at just the right time. With three losses, Buffalo needs to right the course. However, they’re going to have their hands full in Cincinnati.10. Detroit (6-2)The jury is still out concerning the Detroit Lions. The Lions know how to win and defeat the lower talented teams but that’s where it ends so far. The Lions stumbled for a second time this season against the Ravens in Week 8 after losing earlier to the Seahawks. They got well with everything, especially the running game and defense, vs. the Raiders at home on Monday night. The No. 1 seed isn’t impossible, given the schedule. They are currently on their bye week. 

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NCAA Football Top 10 Poll - Week 10

Thursday, Nov 02, 2023

By Wayne Allyn Root The Top 5 teams have moved around this week as the teams move into conference play. The lines will be tightened up as will the performances of the Coaches and players.   1. Ohio St The Ohio State Buckeyes are the best team in college football. Entering Week 9, the Buckeyes had the highest Football Power Index in the nation, putting them over Michigan and Georgia by a fairly significant margin. The Buckeyes avoided a hangover one week after beating Penn State, winning at Wisconsin by two touchdowns. Plus, the Buckeyes’ offense has been producing through injuries to key players. Quarterback Kyle McCord wasn’t great, although wideout Marvin Harrison Jr. was. And the Ohio State defense was once again tremendous, which has been the case all year. Victories over Notre Dame – on the road – and against Penn State further demonstrate why Ohio State has earned the No. 1 spot in our college football rankings for the last three weeks. 2. Michigan I dropped Michigan from the No. 1 spot because of their popcorn schedule. It’s totally embarrassing. The Michigan Wolverines don’t have a win over a ranked opponent this season, but they are continuing to dominate in the midst of the biggest scandal in college football this season. Fortunately for Jim Harbaugh and J.J. McCarthy, they can cross off that last remaining hole on their resume in Week 11 with a victory against Penn State. Next week, the Wolverines play Purdue before taking a fascinating road trip to Penn State. While the Nittany Lions are at home, we’ll always bet on Harbaugh and McCarthy against a James Franklin-coached team. 3. Georgia The Georgia Bulldogs aren’t the same without Brock Bowers, but Kirby Smart and Co. have proven countless times they can overcome injury. Life without tight end Brock Bowers started off on the right foot. Georgia clobbered Florida 43-20, moving to 8-0. On Saturday, Georgia’s offense did just that. Carson Beck racked up over 300 yards through the air, with Ladd McConkey stepping up for a huge performance. Between that and a strong ground game with a defense still playing at a high level, Georgia has equaled Michigan in our eyes when comparing the top teams in the nation. The Bulldogs enter a fascinating stretch of games, starting with a home matchup against Missouri. The following week, Georgia plays Ole Miss before taking a road trip to Tennessee. 4. Washington   For the second week, Washington struggled mightily against lesser competition. This is it for the Washington Huskies. Led by Michael Penix Jr., head coach Kalen DeBoer’s program has won 15 consecutive games since October 15, 2023. It’s been all thanks to one of the best offenses in college football over the last two years. Penix remains a frontrunner according to the latest Heisman odds. The Huskies are unbeaten, although the signs are concerning. Now, the Huskies head into their most challenging stretch with matchups against the USC Trojans, Utah Utes and Oregon State Beavers. 5. Florida St Florida State made quick work of Wake Forest, cruising to a 41-16 win. The Florida State Seminoles offense put on a clinic this Saturday against Wake Forest. Travis, one of the leading Heisman candidates, had one of his best performances through the air in 2023 with Trey Benson and Keon Coleman coming through with big performances. Plus, the Seminoles’ defense played well. For the Seminoles, everything is still in front of them. They’ll play at Pittsburgh next, and they’ll be a favorite in every remaining game. With two quality wins on the year already, Florida State can now go for style points as it controls its destiny in the CFP race. 6. Alabama   Nick Saban has had much better teams, but this one has heart and spunk. The bye week came at the perfect time for the Alabama Crimson Tide, providing a banged-up team with much-needed rest. Plus, Alabama’s offense showed a lot more life in its Week 8 victory over Tennessee and that second-half performance provided a lot to build from. LSU’s high-power offense is coming to town, and the environment promises to be one of the best we get all season. This is a yearly ritual and a massive football game all at once. As long as the Crimson Tide’s offensive line holds up against LSU’s pass rush, the Crimson Tide should roll to victory in Week 10. 7. Oregon The Oregon Ducks needed a signature win on Saturday to sustain any slim hope of sneaking into the CFP picture. The Ducks traveled to Utah, and they responded with an emphatic win that showcased their talent and depth on both sides of the ball. In a tough spot on the road against the Utah Utes, the Ducks came through in emphatic fashion thanks to Bo Nix. With Texas missing Quinn Ewers, the Ducks move up a few spots. There are meaningful games still to come, but there’s only one road game remaining. This team feels like a real threat at the moment. The path to even making the top five is difficult, but the Ducks can at least have a shot if they head into the Civil War (Nov. 24) with a 10-1 record. 8. Ole Miss The victories are rarely pretty for the Ole Miss Rebels, but they do have wins over two ranked opponents this season and entered Saturday 13th in FPI. The next two games will tell us plenty. Ole Miss plays Texas A&M and at Georgia, which will ultimately swing this ranking up or down. The Rebels are rarely going to win in dominating fashion and that likely includes next Saturday’s matchup at home against Texas A&M. If Lane Kiffin’s program wants more national recognition, it will need to pull off a stunner in Georgia on Nov. 11. We wouldn’t count on that happening, but Quinshon Judkins at least gives Ole Miss a shot. 9. Oklahoma The effort we saw last Saturday in a two-point victory over Central Florida carried over into Week 9. And after beating Texas just a few short weeks ago, the team was rocked. There will be a lot of finger-pointing in Norman after Saturday, with quarterback Dillon Gabriel shouldering some if not most of the responsibility. Our biggest takeaway, though, is Brent Venables’ reputation as a brilliant defensive mind has not translated to much on-field success by his defense in recent weeks. It doesn’t get immediately easier. Oklahoma heads to Oklahoma State for a massive rivalry game. The Sooners’ playoff hopes are effectively toast. 10. Texas  The Texas Longhorns should be favored in every remaining game on their regular-season schedule and victories will keep them in the top 10. When stacking up the best teams in college football, though, that’s where the Quinn Ewers injury really hurts. Despite playing without its starting QB, Texas destroyed BYU. Backup QB Maalik Murphy wasn’t perfect, but he did account for two touchdowns. While he’s not out for the season, starting a very inexperienced quarterback always significantly reduces a team’s margin for error in each game and that puts Texas at risk of an upset loss. In a massive week of games, Texas has a doozy. The Longhorns welcome surging Kansas State to town, and a win will not be easy.

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NFL Top 10 Teams - Week 8

Friday, Oct 27, 2023

It seems like few can hang onto the top spot for more than a week or so. 1. Kansas City (6-1) Patrick Mahomes threw for 424 yards and four touchdowns during a 31-17 win against the Chargers that improved his career record against AFC West rivals to 29-3. The offense exploded in the second quarter and added a late touchdown to beat the rival Chargers and take a commanding lead in the division. Tough games against the Dolphins (Week 9 in Germany), Eagles (Week 11), Bills (Week 14), and Bengals (Week 17) remain, but this team should be able to cruise into the playoffs barring a massive implosion. Travis Kelce celebrated “National Tight Ends Day” by probably showing off to Taylor with 12 catches for 179 yards and a touchdown. 2. Philadelphia (6-1) A week after losing to the Jets, the Eagles dominated in a 31-17 win over the Dolphins. A.J. Brown is unstoppable, the defense limited one of if not the best offenses on the planet, and the Eagles are tied for the best record in the league. In the battle of former Alabama quarterbacks, Jalen Hurts outdueled former teammate Tua Tagovailoa in a 31-17 victory against the Dolphins. Hurts overcame a pick-six to account for three touchdowns and also converted 4 of 4 “Tush Push” runs into first downs. Josh Sweat’s two sacks and Darius Slay’s red-zone interception keyed a defensive effort to bottle up speed. Philly will have to handle their business against a Commanders team that pushed them to overtime back in Week 4 before a massive divisional game against the Cowboys in Week 9. 3. Miami (5-2) I think the Dolphins are good and they can only play their schedule, and their two losses have come on the road. However, their five wins have come against teams with a combined 8-25 record, and all of those teams have two wins or fewer. Their point differential against those teams is +95. Their point differential against the Bills and Eagles is -42.  Just like when they played the Bills, the Dolphins were dealt another wake-up call by a Super Bowl contender thanks to the Eagles. They were held to 244 yards of offense — less than half of their season average — even with eight catches by Tyreek Hill. Once again, the combined record of the five teams beaten by the Dolphins is 8-25 4. Baltimore (5-2) The Ravens scored 28 points in the first half, and Lamar Jackson accounted for four total touchdowns in a 38-6 win, the kind of win that announces Baltimore as a serious contender in the AFC. That’s what dominance looks like! The Ravens scored four touchdowns before the Lions gained a first down in a 38-6 rout. Lamar Jackson threw for 357 yards and three touchdowns — two to Mark Andrews — and ran for another score on a fourth down. The defense has allowed a NFL-low seven touchdowns this season. Given how well the defense has played despite injuries early in the season, Baltimore can beat anyone if the offense plays like they did against the Lions. 5. San Francisco (5-2) Someone should tell the 49ers the season did not end in Week 5. After a nearly unprecedented run of offensive success, the wheels have fallen off over the last two weeks, and Brock Purdy has looked a lot more like a seventh-round pick than the all-conquering titan of his early career. The vaunted pass rush no-showed, failing to sack Kirk Cousins on 45 drop backs in a 22-17 loss to the Vikings. Brock Purdy’s interception in the final minute was the 49ers’ third turnover, matching their number of giveaways from the first six games combined. Christian McCaffrey scored two touchdowns to tie for the NFL season lead (11), but make that two straight losses. There is enough institutional goodwill here to assume they will get things turned around, but this has been a sharp fall from grace. 6. Jacksonville (5-2) They escaped with a win against the Saints, but it was a solid performance from the Jaguars given the injury questions around Trevor Lawrence. Christian Kirk broke a fourth-quarter tie with a catch-and-run 44-yard touchdown that sparked a 31-24 victory against the Saints. Trevor Lawrence played like a game manager just four days after suffering a sprained knee, which allowed Travis Etienne to rush for two touchdowns. Foyesade Oluokun scored on an interception return. They are in control of the division at 5-2, but they have a tough game against the Steelers this week and then an even tougher game against the 49ers coming out of the bye. 7. Dallas (4-2) This is what you get during a Cowboy’s bye week. Never a slow time for the Cowboys, who created a headline during the bye week when executive Stephen Jones — owner Jerry Jones’ son — told The Athletic that Dak Prescott will get a contract extension after the season to remain the quarterback of the future despite the continuation of his turnover issues (six touchdowns, four interceptions). Meanwhile, practice and games are being played. Coming off a good win against the Chargers before the bye, the Cowboys get another test from a mid-pack team with the Rams coming to town in Week 8. Despite some disappointing performances, a win there would put Dallas at 5-2heading into a matchup with the Eagles. 8. Detroit (5–2) The Lions do have a great win against the Chiefs on their resume, but much like the Dolphins, there are questions about how big a role schedule has played in their great start. The kneecap-biting toughness of the Lions met its match with the Ravens — arguably the most physical team of the last 25 teams. Rookie Jahmyr Gibbs scored the only touchdown of a blowout loss in their first full game without top rusher David Montgomery. Amon-Ra St. Brown had 13 catches for 102 yards. Jared Goff threw a rare interception. The good news is the remaining schedule is a cakewalk, and the Lions should be able to waltz into the playoffs. Still, it would be good to see another quality win before we get there. 9. Cleveland (4-2) Even the Browns might not be sure how they came away with a win on Sunday, but they rallied for a last-second touchdown to beat the Colts in a game where the defense gave up several big plays. Who would’ve thought that the defense-first Browns could allow 38 points and still win? In-season addition Kareem Hunt’s second rushing touchdown with 15 seconds remaining finished off a 39-38 victory against the Colts. Myles Garrett’s strip sack set up a defensive touchdown. Backup quarterback P.J. Walker’s game-winning drive was kept alive by two defensive penalties. The real story, however, was Deshaun Watson struggling mightily before seemingly aggravating his shoulder issue. He might be the “all-time” biggest bust ever!! Meanwhile, they face a tough trip to Seattle this week. 10. Pittsburgh (4-2)  The offense still leaves a lot to be desired, but getting a win on the road against the Rams is a great result. T.J. Watt is maybe the NFL’s best defensive player. He also is maybe his team’s best offensive weapon — at least in clutch moments. His interception and 24-yard return set up the first of the Steelers’ three second-half rushing touchdowns in a 24-17 win against the Rams. Pittsburgh benefited from a controversial spot to convert a late fourth down. They also already have wins over the Browns and Ravens on their resume. It is hard to imagine this offense really pushing for the playoffs in a tough division, but they are in a great spot at 4-2. Maybe coaching is important. 

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College Football Top 10 Poll - Week 9

Thursday, Oct 26, 2023

With the Top 10 finally almost finished with bottom feeders, the cream will start to come to the top in conference play.    1. Michigan  Michigan has looked like the most dominant team in the country this year, as the Wolverines have won their first eight games by an average of 29.5 points. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy is the betting favorite to win the Heisman Trophy — his 92.6 grade leads all quarterbacks in the country. The Wolverines’ defense has been sensational this year and J.J. McCarthy leads an offense that rarely makes mistakes. Michigan’s next opponent after the bye is Purdue, the No. 69 team in that ranking. Then, the Wolverines close out the regular season with three straight top-40 opponents in Penn State, Maryland and Ohio State. For now, Washington, Ohio State and Florida State have all proven themselves, we’re still waiting on that from UM. Next Opponent: WEEK 9 BYE 2. Georgia Georgia enjoyed its bye week before beginning the most brutal stretch of its season. Over the next four weeks, the defending national champs must face Florida, Missouri, Ole Miss and Tennessee. All four are currently in the top 30 of PFF’s power rankings. The Brock Bowers injury is a massive blow for the Georgia Bulldogs offense.Making the next month even more challenging is the fact that the Bulldogs’ star, tight end Brock Bowers, will miss the next three to five weeks with ankle surgery. We still think Georgia has a great shot at making the CFP, but those looming tests against Missouri, Ole Miss and Tennessee look much tougher now. Next Opponent: Florida vs Georgia  3. Ohio St  As evidenced by their final scores, the defense leads the way in Columbus. The Buckeyes are currently fourth in the country in expected points allowed per play. Even in a matchup against one of the best defenses in the nation, Marvin Harrison Jr. (162 yards, 1 TD), Cade Stover (70 yards) and Miyan Williams (62 yards, 1 TD) came through with big plays on scoring drives. The Buckeyes boast the best resume in college football. Ohio State most recently took down then-No. 7 Penn State 20-12 this past Saturday. This is in addition to a 17-14 road victory over then-ninth-ranked Notre Dame. Great defense!! Next Opponent: Ohio State @ Wisconsin 4. Florida St Two of the teams FSU beat, LSU and Duke, remain in the top 25 of this ranking. Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jordan Travis might not have the numbers of a Heisman Trophy candidate, but he has more signature wins than anyone in the mix.Travis is picking up right where he left off a year ago. The sixth-year senior’s 86.8 grade this season is a top-15 mark among all quarterbacks in the country. He led FSU to another top-25 win, further demonstrating why they belong in the College Football Playoff. Next Opponent: Florida State vs Wake Forest  5. Washington  The Washington Huskies can only consider themselves lucky they won on Saturday. Washington’s normally elite offense didn’t score a single touchdown and then-Heisman frontrunner Michael Penix Jr. posted just a 48.0 grade, his worst performance over his two years in Seattle. Washington barely survived its hangover this week. The Huskies beat Arizona State 15-7 despite entering the contest as 28-point favorites. Was this a letdown? Perhaps this was just an instance of the Huskies letting their guard down after beating the Oregon Ducks, but it nearly proved devastating to their playoff hopes. Washington has a get-right game in Week 9. Next Opponent: Washington vs Stanford  6. Oklahoma  Oklahoma endured a scare from UCF on Saturday, as the Sooners trailed with fewer than 10 minutes left before escaping with a 31-29 victory. Escaping with a two-point victory over 3-4 UCF isn’t a good look for the Oklahoma Sooners. The defense looked more reminiscent of last season’s unit, allowing nearly 400 total yards. Fortunately for the Sooners, Dillon Gabriel came through once more in a big moment. Oklahoma’s offense has been incredibly efficient this season, placing seventh nationally in EPA per play. Next Opponent: Oklahoma vs Kansas  7. Texas The Texas Longhorns rarely like to make it easy on themselves and Week 8 wasn’t to different. Like the two teams preceding them, Texas nearly lost to an unranked opponent but prevailed for the victory. The Longhorns made a crucial stop on the 10-yard line to take down Houston 31-24. Texas starting quarterback Quinn Ewers suffered a Grade 2 AC joint sprain to his throwing shoulder and will “miss some time”. Fortunately for Texas, the best version of Quinn Ewers showed up and it’s because of him that the Longhorns’ playoff hopes aren’t evaporating heading into the final weekend in October. However, the whole nation is eager to see if his backup, 2023 No. 1 overall recruit Arch Manning, makes his debut. Next Opponent: BYU vs Texas 8. Alabama  Jalen Milroe continues to prove that he’s the right man for the job in Alabama’s quarterback room. Since being benched against USF, the redshirt sophomore’s 90.1 grade trails only Jayden Daniels and J.J. McCarthy among Power Five quarterbacks.If the version of the Alabama Crimson Tide from the second half against Tennessee sticks, Nick Saban’s team is back in the playoff picture. Last week, after going down 20-7 at halftime, Alabama scored 27 unanswered in the second half to take down then-No. 17 Tennessee. Far more importantly in advance of a matchup against LSU, the Crimson Tide’s defense looked better than we’ve seen in some time. Next Opponent: LSU vs Alabama 9. Oregon Oregon’s offense continued to show why it’s the most efficient in college football with a 38-24 victory over Washington State on Saturday. The Ducks averaged 7.8 yards per rushing attempt and 11.7 yards per pass attempt in the win. However, performances like that one certainly won’t help the Oregon Ducks climb back up the college football rankings, but they did enough to win. With Bo Nix missing a few more throws than usual, Bucky Irving led the way for the Ducks’ offense. Oregon will need to clean things up offensively as it prepares to face the Utah Utes defense. That offense will be tested this week against our 11th team on this ranking, Utah. The Utes are currently 11th in the Power Five in EPA per play and are coming off a statement 34-32 win over then-No. 18 USC. Next Opponent: Oregon @ Utah 10. Ole Miss Ole Miss deserves more love for what it’s accomplished this season. Lane Kiffin can thank Quinshon Judkins and Tre Harris for saving the day and pushing Ole Miss into the top 10. The Rebels have beaten two teams that are currently in the top 25 in LSU and Tulane, the former being in the top 15. Ole Miss’ only loss was on the road to a top-10 team in Alabama. Jaxson Dart has been the star for the Rebels as his 91.5 grade is tied for fifth among FBS quarterbacks. Next Opponent: Vanderbilt vs Ole Miss

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NFL Top 10 Rankings - Week 7

Saturday, Oct 21, 2023

The last remaining undefeated teams went packing and the Top 10 was scrambled up in the NFL (Not For Long) League.  1. Miami (5-1) The Dolphins are in the driver’s seat in their conference, and maybe the NFL as a whole. How replicable is their meltdown loss to the Bills a few weeks back? What matters now is that no one seems able to keep pace with them. Their wins so far this season have come against five teams with a combined five wins. They will get a chance to make their case against the Eagles on Sunday night and then the Chiefs in Week 9. The Dolphins are averaging 37.17 points per game, which is on pace to be the most of any team since the Denver Broncos in 2013 and the second most since at least 2000. Their 498.7 yards per game leads the second-place Eagles by 103.7 yards per game. And Miami leads the NFL in rushing touchdowns (15) and is averaging 6.5 yards per carry, the highest average in the league since at least 2000. 2. San Francisco (5-1) Yes, they lost to the Browns, but every other team has a loss, too, and the 49ers have the best resume so far this season. Serious question: How much would Jim Schwartz be worth for a two-week consulting fee for any team that met San Francisco in the Super Bowl? The Browns’ defensive coordinator kind of owns Kyle Shanahan, who fell to 0-3 as 49ers head coach against teams whose defenses are coordinated by Schwartz. In that span, San Francisco has averaged nine fewer points per game and 0.9 fewer points per drive against Schwartz than against everyone else. On Sunday, the 49ers scored 16 points lower than their average coming into the game. Dating to Shanahan’s time as an offensive coordinator, he is 1-9 when he goes against Schwartz. As the clock struck midnight, Brock Purdy turned back into a pumpkin, and the 49ers lost to the Browns in Cleveland. Injuries eroded their vaunted receiving corps with everyone from Deebo Samuel to Christian McCaffrey leaving the game for treatment. Can Purdy sustain his previously-impressive level of play without as much help around him. They should get right against the Vikings on Monday nightbefore a massive game against the surging Bengals. 3. Philadelphia (5-1) It’s fair to point out after the Eagles’ first loss of the season that they don’t have a super impressive win. Jalen Hurts, who threw a critical interception late in Sunday’s loss, has seven interceptions on 213 pass attempts this season. Last year, he had six interceptions on 460 pass attempts for the whole season. The Eagles defense is deep and talented even without some of their best players, but this offense has some problems that the New York Jets were able to expose. Jalen Hurts was far too lax with his ball security, which has been a theme this season. On the plus side, A.J. Brown became the fifth player since 2000 to have 125-plus receiving yards in four consecutive games Sunday. His 672 receiving yards are the third most through Week 6 in the last five years in the league. They have the Dolphins coming to town this week for what should be a fascinating game. 4. Detroit (5-1) The Lions, who are 13-3 in their past 16 games, have won four consecutive games by 14 or more points, which is their longest such streak since 1969. Lions fans deserve this after so many years on the outside looking in: a fun, entertaining, and highly competent football team. They’re well on the way towards Detroit’s first division championship since 1993 — when they played in the NFC Central. The offense is leading the way, but the run defense is sneaky good (second in the NFL, allowing just 3.3 yards per carry). Detroit almost jumped Philadelphia this week because its win against the Chiefs is more impressive than anything the Eagles have done this year. (For now, we’re willing to overlook the fact that Detroit’s win against Kansas City came with both Travis Kelce and Chris Jones out.) They will get another chance for a statement win this week in Baltimore. Detroit’s defense currently ranks fifth in yards per play allowed and 10th in points per drive allowed. 5. Kansas City (5-1) Thanks to losses by the Eagles and 49ers, the Chiefs now have the longest active winning streak in the league. Still, everything just feels harder than usual on offense. Despite facing a lackluster schedule, three of Kansas City’s five wins have come by one score, and beating the Broncos 19-8 is nothing to write home about. They should get a better test this week against the Chargers. The Chiefs have only occasionally looked like the high-scoring juggernaut fans are used to fearing, which makes it all the worse that they’re already enjoying a 5-1 record. This team hasn’t even begun to hit its stride. Patrick Mahomes is 31st in the league in air yards per attempt (6.4), and the Chiefs are 29th in air yards per reception (4.6). Kansas City’s explosive play percentage (9.7) is 19th in the league, the worst of the Andy Reid era, and the Chiefs have only one win against a team with a winning record. 6. Buffalo (4-2) We would keep being skeptical about the Bills if not for that win versus the Dolphins because none of those other wins have come against good teams. The Bills got away with one Sunday night, with a plethora of errors — missed tackles, dumb penalties, blown coverage assignments, dropped passes, the works — failing to slow them down in the face of the Giants’ own ineptitude. A win is a win, but the Bills have now lost to the Jaguars and nearly lost to the Giants since crushing the Dolphins in Week 4. A trip to London might help explain those struggles, but it has been a season of high highs and low lows for a team that has lost several key players to injury. The good news is the Patriots are up next. Buffalo’s defensive injuries are troubling long term, but Josh Allen might be enough to overcome them. Since Week 2, he is second in the league in passer rating (112.9), has 12 touchdowns versus three interceptions and has completed 72 percent of his passes. 7. Dallas (4-2) Are the Cowboys for real or not? Wins against the quartet of teams they have beaten don’t exactly tell us a lot, but at least Mike McCarthy can spend his bye week thinking how smart he was to send Kellen Moore out of town. Dallas held Moore (the Chargers’ offensive coordinator) and Los Angeles Chargers to 53 rushing yards Monday night. The offense still struggles to create big plays, but the defense looked strong against a good Chargers attack. They need to figure out a better plan on offense over the bye week. The Cowboys defense sealed a win, but are we sure this offense can compete with the league’s best teams? Dallas will be in the playoff picture come January but it remains to be seen whether they’re a legit Super Bowl contender. 8. Jacksonville (5-2) The Jaguars took care of business against the Colts, but they left the game with injuries to key players including quarterback Trevor Lawrence. They’ve got a short week to prepare for Thursday night’s game with the Saints in New Orleans, but at least they don’t have to fly home first. Trevor Lawrence has 982 passing yards and five touchdowns versus two interceptions since Week 3. Half of Jacksonville’s wins have come in London, but they’ve won three in a row and took control of the AFC South on Sunday with their second win against the second-place Colts. They should be able to win this division – watch out for those Texans – but there are questions still for this offense. On the bright side, the defense has been better than expected. Note that they enter a five week schedule from hell after their game with the Saints.  9. Cleveland (3-2) The Browns pulled off one of the week’s biggest upsets without their starting quarterback or star running back. How about that? That defense now has staked its worthy claim as the best unit in the NFL, with PJ Walker doing enough in place of Watson against a 49ers team that's comparable to the Browns defensively. What a wild, weird season to date for Cleveland, ping-ponging back and forth between excellence and disaster. The 1,002 yards allowed by the Browns this season are the fewest allowed through a team’s first five games in 52 years. Sunday’s win, which came on a 41-yard missed field goal by Jake Moody with nine seconds left, was Cleveland’s first against a team that was 5-0 or better since 1969 10. Baltimore (4-2) Lamar Jackson’s 69.9 percent completion rate ranks fourth in the league and is on pace to be the best of his career. His passer rating (93) is on pace to be the third best of his career. The Ravens were in full control of their Week 6 game in London, but their rankings here is due more to other teams also slipping and sliding. Their defense got ran over at times Sunday and a more-committed opponent could take advantage of that. Their secondary had no interest matching up with Derrick Henry in the open field. The Ravens now lead the AFC North despite having the third-most lost fumbles and eighth-most dropped passes in the NFL. They need to show more on offense against a good team. They will get a chance this week against the Lions.

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Week 8 NCAA Football Top 10 Poll

Thursday, Oct 19, 2023

The College Football season can’t get much better.    1. Michigan   The Michigan Wolverines allowed Indiana to experience hope for a moment, taking a 7-0 lead into the second quarter. Any belief the Hoosiers had of stunning the Wolverines quickly disappeared. Michigan responded with 52 unanswered points, led by quarterback J.J. McCarthy throwing as many incompletions (three) as touchdowns. Of course, the real standout is the Wolverines’ defense that allowed just 232 total yards to Indiana, perfectly replicating how this unit has performed in 2023. Allowing the third-fewest total yards per game (233) expect the Wolverines to feast on Michigan State in Week 8. Continuing on last Saturday, it looked as if Indiana might shockingly put the No. 2 Michigan Wolverines on the ropes. The Hoosiers stopped J.J. McCarthy and Co. on their first two drives and, even after throwing a bad pick after a long drive, they still responded to take a 7-0 lead. Unfortunately for them, that might’ve been a wake-up call for the Wolverines. Michigan continues to look like a buzzsaw against subpar competition. They’ll go on the road to East Lansing for a rivalry contest against Sparty next week, but even that doesn’t look like much concern with the way Jim Harbaugh has this thing humming.  2. Georgia   The Georgia Bulldogs have won 24 consecutive games, four shy of the SEC’s all-time record. With the Florida Gators and Missouri Tigers up next, there’s no reason to think Kirby Smart’s program won’t have a shot at history in November. For now, the biggest question moving forward might be regarding stud tight end Brock Bowers. The potential Heisman candidate left this game with a lower-leg injury. Smart said after the fact that X-rays were negative but he will undergo an MRI early in the next week to see where things stand. That would be a huge loss for the Dawgs right when they don’t need it. It was a middling performance after the first truly dominant showing of the season, which was the last thing the red-and-black-clad fans in Athens wanted to see from their team on the road. It won’t cost them against the Gators, but it could in November vs Ole Miss and Tennessee. 3. Florida St The ACC may come down to North Carolina and FSU, which could be an unbelievable showdown for the conference title. Since the season-opening win, you could’ve made the argument that Florida State was lucky to remain among the unbeatens in college football. They nearly let Boston College shock the world, possibly should’ve lost to Clemson, and simply hadn’t been the dominant team that they looked capable of right out of the gate this season. Keon Coleman was phenomenal in the first half and that’s all the Seminoles’ offense really needed with Florida State’s defense shutting down Syracuse. Assuming Travis avoided a long-term injury and Wilson returns in the near future, FSU is in an excellent position for next Saturday’s matchup versus Duke. 4. Ohio St This was a letdown spot with Penn State coming to Columbus last week, but it turns out that Ohio State might simply be just hitting its stride midway through the 2023 season. Kyle McCord has nearly 600 passing yards and five touchdowns in the last two games and Marvin Harrison Jr. keeps proving why he’s the best offensive weapon in the nation. Even with their top three running backs out of action by the game’s end, Dallas Hayden stepped up and Kyle McCord, once again, made the wise choice to pepper Marvin Harrison Jr. Coupled with yet another elite defensive effort, the Buckeyes throttled Purdue to the tune of 41-7. All in all, this Buckeyes’ defense is playing fairly well. It all sets the perfect stage for the Week 8 matchup vs. Penn State. 5. Washington  The Washington Huskies are 6-0 for the first time since 2017 and Michael Penix Jr. is the Heisman Trophy favorite. At home in Week 7 in a fantastic top-10 matchup, Penix Jr. (302 yards, 4 TDs) came through in the clutch to lead Washington to the comeback victory. It’s now a 13-game winning streak and there’s zero reason to believe it won’t continue against Arizona State. Throughout the week and in spite of Washington being favored at home against rival Oregon, we heard about the Ducks just being the better team, particularly on defense. After 60 minutes, though, it was Michael Penix Jr. and the Huskies celebrating the win, still looking at a zero in the loss column, and still looking like the team to beat in the Pac-12 – perhaps even more so on that last part than before. Against one of the best O-lines in college football, they created pressure and, most importantly, made plays in the clutch. The schedule remains tough in the deep Pac-12 for the Huskies, but they proved they are, in fact, the cream of the crop in this league.  6. Oklahoma   Dillon Gabriel and the Oklahoma Sooners are right where they want to be. Standing at a perfect 6-0, with a win over Texas, the Sooners’ playoff odds are higher than they’ve been in years. With Kansas dropping another game, the path to winning out the regular season becomes even clearer. If that happens, the Sooners should make it into the CFP. It’s apparent the win over the Longhorns is about the only thing building up their resumé… but it’s a damn good win, one of the best that we’ve seen this season. Again, for Brent Venables’ team, the level of competition the rest of the way in the Big 12 isn’t much to write home about. Sure, that probably means the Sooners have a clear path to make it to the conference championship – a potential rematch with Texas – as an undefeated team, but it also means they’ll need help to jump into the Top 4 if the Selection Committee sees the rankings the same way as we do! 7. Penn St.  It’s the game we’ve all been waiting for. Week 7 effectively served as a practice for the Penn State Nittany Lions, allowing this offense to figure things out and find a rhythm before facing the Ohio State Buckeyes. Drew Allar threw for three touchdowns and rushed for one more in the contest while Daequan Hardy scored on a pair of punt returns. With the defense holding the Minutemen to an appalling 109 yards of total offense on the day, it was a complete rout with the Nittany Lions moving to 6-0 with the 63-0 victory. The loser of the Week 8 matchup will suffer a devastating blow to its playoff hopes, while the victor should arguably be viewed as the best college football team in 2023. We’re just a bit weary of Penn State because of James Franklin. 8. Oregon   Bo Nix, Bucky Irving and Troy Franklin did just about everything humanly possible to win on Saturday. Ultimately, home-field advantage, a few injuries in the Ducks’ secondary and a missed field goal proved costly. The undefeated season is gone, but Oregon still has a chance at three more ranked wins this season and double-digit victories mean a New Year’s Six bowl game. Oregon is going to drop in the Top 10 polls but none of the great fans in Eugene should feel substantially worse about their team after they got clipped in Seattle by a truly great Washington team. The Ducks more than held their own in this high-profile matchup on Saturday, trading blows with Washington basically from the opening kickoff. You could question some of the late-game decisions – namely going for it late on fourth down (and not converting) – from Dan Lanning, but the team played well enough to win overall.  9. Texas  After the Longhorns got their hearts broken in Dallas with a Red River loss to Oklahoma last week, Texas had the week off. Coming off the bye week, the Texas Longhorns face a massive uphill climb to have any shot at the College Football Playoff and Quinn Ewers’ chances of winning the Heisman Trophy have plummeted. Coach Steve Sarkisian’s team will still have a chance to make the College Football Playoff. There isn’t a ranked team left on the Longhorns’ schedule, which should set up a rematch with OU in the Big 12 Championship Game. Win that and get some help, Texas can still be in the Top 4 when it’s all said and done.Oklahoma can be made up for, it’s just going to take blowout victories to close out the season with an 11-1 record at the end of November. Can that be done? Only if Texas plays solid football. 10. North Carolina   How good is North Carolina? It still remains to be seen if they are a legitimate College Football Playoff contender, but there is no denying that the Tar Heels are one of the best teams in the country as they moved to 6-0 on the season with a thorough handling of Miami in Chapel Hill on Saturday night. Drake Maye is on a roll right now. In Week 7, the North Carolina Tar Heels superstar picked up four passing touchdowns in three quarters alone against the Miami Hurricanes. With that effort, he’s now responsible for over 750 yards of offense and seven touchdowns in the last two weeks. North Carolina’s schedule for the rest of October is pretty smooth, setting Maye and the Tar Heels up for a historic season. The big change for UNC is clearly a much-improved defense from last year while the offense, especially with Tez Walker back, is still cooking. They could legitimately challenge for the ACC title and, perhaps, a CFP spot.

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NFL Top 10 Rankings - Week 6

Saturday, Oct 14, 2023

The NFL feels very top-heavy so far this season, and every team outside the 49ers in the top five has had their own issues.  1. San Francisco (5-0) The 49ers defeated the Cowboys, 42-10, to improve to 5-0. “Mr Irrelevant”,Brock Purdy has thrown for 1,271 yards and nine touchdowns. He has completed 72.1% of his throws. He hasn't had a pass intercepted. The dominant 49ers will be in plenty of boring games this year. But not boring for their fans. The 49ers look unstoppable right now. They have a trip to Cleveland Sunday.  2. Philadelphia (5-0) They’ve had a very easy start to the season, even if they’ve been trying to make it more difficult. The Eagles are here kind of by default because they are the only other unbeaten team. The Eagles beat the Rams, 23-14, to improve to 5-0. Jalen Hurts has six touchdowns passes, four interceptions and a 67.3% completion rate. He's thrown for 1,262 yards thru five games. A Week 7 matchup against the Dolphins will be the real measuring stick for this team but they meet the NY Jets first.  3. Miami (4-1) The Dolphins have to keep the offense going without De’Von Achane. He picked up a knee injury that could send him to injured reserve, but otherwise, the Dolphins had a nice bounceback win against the Giants in which their absurd team speed was on full display. With the Carolina Panthers up next, Miami should be 5-1 heading into a matchup with the Eagles in Week 7. 4. Kansas City (4-1) As the Chiefs are winning, there are other teams that cannot say the same.  Hanging on to beat the Jets and then the Vikings in back-to-back weeks does not create a ton of confidence nor scares they’re opponents. The good news is the defense is fairly legit. The concerning news is the Chiefs still have not developed a receiving option outside of Travis Kelce, who has yet another injury scare. They host the Denver Broncos on TNF.  5. Detroit (4-1) The Lions are picking up a lot of fans that love their turnaround story. But could it be crashing? Losing Emmanuel Moseley for the season is a blow, but the Lions took care of business without two key offensive players against the basement-dwelling Panthers. With the Packers looking like less of a threat by the week, Detroit is the heavy favorite to win this division. They know how to win the games they should, which is one of the key ingredients to becoming great. We’ll see Sunday as they’re on the road in Tampa.  6. Buffalo (3-2) The NFL did Buffalo no favors by scheduling a London trip to face a team that had already been there a week the Sunday after an emotional division win against Miami. The Bills had to burn a home game to do it. While the loss to the Jaguars can be explained away, the losses on defense are mounting. Tre’Davious White went down for the season in Week 4, and Matt Milano’s season ended in Week 5. The Bills will just have to put their offense in overdrive. They can implement that offense at home against the NY Giants.  7. Dallas (3-2) The Cowboys offense is officially a problem. Dallas is currently 21st in yards per play, 13th in points per drive, and 28th in red zone touchdown rate. Is it the play calling coach or the quarterback? That combo clearly isn’t working. It would not be a shock if the Cowboys enter the bye week at 3-3, which would be a major blow. The Cowboys are on prime time Monday playing the LA Chargers.  8. Tampa Bay (3-1) Beat the Lions, and the Bucs will be taken very seriously. Tampa Bay comes out of their bye week in first place in the division and with a win against the Saints in their back pocket. The next three weeks should be telling for this team. They get the Lions and Falcons at home before a trip to Buffalo in Week 8. We should know a lot more about how real the Bucs are after that stretch of games. We get must watch TV Sunday at 4:25 est in Tampa hosting the Lions.  9. Seattle (3-1) There are others that are much more enamored on the Seahawks than myself. Seattle has an interesting road matchup with the Bengals coming out of the bye week. The Seahawks have clearly been the better team so far this season, but Cincy looked more like the team we expected in their win over the Cardinals. It should be a good test. Pete probably should bring an extra pack of gum.  10. Jacksonville (3-2) After a slow start that included a loss to the Texans, Jacksonville needed a signature win, and they got it over the Bills in London. Things were perfectly set up for them by the schedule, but it was still a good win against one of the better teams in the league. The Jags return to the States for a massive divisional game against the Colts, who they beat in Week 1. Both teams are 3-2 with the Jags opening as a 4 point favorite.  

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Week 7 College Football Top 10 Poll

Friday, Oct 13, 2023

 1. Michigan  Michigan annihilated its toughest competition so far this season, beating Minnesota 52-10. As they were fueled in part by a pair of pick-sixes, the Wolverines went over 30 points for the ninth consecutive game, the longest streak in program history. While the Golden Gophers are the best team that the Wolverines have played so far that’ll have to do since Michigan doesn’t play a team higher than that until mid-November when it travels to Penn State. That certainly says very little about the Big 10. Week 7 Matchup: vs. Indiana Hoosiers  2. Georgia  Many were doubting if Georgia was still one of the top teams in the country after struggling to beat South Carolina and Auburn, respectively. In a 51-13 victory versus Kentucky, the anticipated SEC East showdown was a one-sided affair from the beginning, as Georgia led 34-7 at halftime on the strength of quarterback Carson Beck and tight end Brock Bowers. The Bulldogs’ defense limited the Wildcats to only 183 yards. Carson Beck threw for career highs in passing yards (389) and touchdown passes (4) last Saturday as the Bulldogs won their 23rd consecutive SEC game. Week 7 Matchup: at Vanderbilt Commodores 3. Florida St Virginia Tech cut Florida State’s lead to just five in the third quarter before Trey Benson led the Seminoles to a 39-17 victory. Benson ran for 200 yards on only 11 carries, the fewest carries for any FSU running back to hit the 200-yard mark in program history. The redshirt junior had touchdown runs of 62 yards and 85 yards and finished with a career-best 200 yards on the ground on the day. Week 7 Matchup: vs. Syracuse Orange  4. Oklahoma  It’s a far cry from their 6-7 record just a year ago for Oklahoma. The Red River Rivalry lived up to the hype in a back-and-forth affair with 1,013 total yards of offense. After going 0-5 in one-score games last season, the Sooners won their first such game this season thanks to QB Dillon Gabriel's 285 passing yards and 113 rushing yards. Dillon Gabriel led the Sooners on a game-winning 75-yard touchdown drive with only 1:17 left to give the Sooners the victory. Oklahoma doesn’t play a currently-ranked opponent the rest of the season, giving the Sooners every opportunity to run the table until the Big 12 championship game. Week 7 Matchup: Bye 5. Ohio St Kyle McCord finished with a career-best 81.8 passing grade in last week’s win thanks mainly to his former high school teammate Marvin Harrison Jr. Ohio State endured a scare from Maryland as the Terrapins held the lead in the third quarter. Because of QB McCord, the Buckeyes proceeded to score 27 unanswered to escape with a 37-17 victory. They had one glaring problem tho. Ohio State's 62 rushing yards were its fewest in a win since when it had 44 against NC State in 2003. Week 7 Matchup: at Purdue Boilermakers 6. Washington  Hopefully Washington practiced to improve their defense during last week’s bye. Washington enjoyed its bye week before its massive showdown with Oregon this weekend. That top-10 showdown features two of the nation’s three best offenses in EPA per play that are led by two Heisman candidate quarterbacks in Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix. Michael Penix Jr. is the first FBS player in the past 20 years with at least 300 passing yards and 70% completion percentage in each of his team's first 5 games. Obviously, Penix, in particular, leads all signal-callers in the nation with a 93.7 grade. Week 7 Matchup: vs. No. 10 Oregon Ducks 7. Penn St Penn State’s defense currently leads the nation in expected points allowed per play, but the offense has been concerning outside of quarterback Drew Allar. The Nittany Lions are outside the nation’s top-50 teams in rushing, receiving, pass-blocking and run-blocking grades. But stats may be deceiving about their offense. The Nittany Lions have scored 30 or more points in 12 straight games, their longest streak since 1993-95. In two weeks, Penn State faces one of the best defenses in the nation in Ohio State. Week 7 Matchup: vs. Massachusetts Minutemen 8. Oregon  Oregon has been one of the most well-rounded teams in the country this season. The Ducks lead the nation in EPA per play on offense while placing 13th defensively in that same stat. The only other school to place inside the top 15 of both is Michigan. Last week, Bo Nix became just the seventh FBS player with 80 passing touchdowns and 30 rushing scores in his career. While this ranking may seem low, Oregon has every opportunity to vault up this list with a victory over Washington on Saturday. Week 7 Matchup: at No. 7 Washington Huskies  9. Texas While Texas was on the losing end of that classic, the Longhorns dropped in the rankings. After all, their wins over Alabama and Kansas are still better than most schools. After two early interceptions, QB Quinn Ewers had a streak of 19 consecutive completions, setting a Texas record but too little too late. Texas also doesn’t play a ranked opponent for the rest of the regular season, which could set up a rematch with Oklahoma in the conference title game. Week 7 Matchup: Bye 10. Alabama  It wouldn’t be college football if Bama wasn’t ranked in the top 10. After losing at home to Texas and struggling to beat USF, many were writing off Alabama as a legitimate College Football Playoff contender. Since then, the Crimson Tide have proven that they’re still a threat to crack the final four with wins over Ole Miss and Texas A&M most recently. WR Jermaine Burton had 197 receiving yards -- more than he had in the first five games combined -- and two scores, as Alabama improved to 115-1 against unranked teams since 2008. We’ll see how much of a threat they are over the next month as Alabama faces Tennessee, LSU and Kentucky following its tilt with Arkansas. Week 7 Matchup: vs. Arkansas Razorbacks

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Week 5 NFL Top 10 Poll

Thursday, Oct 05, 2023

Only two undefeated teams left.    1. San Francisco (4-0)  The San Francisco 49ers are a buzzsaw right now—and running Christian McCaffrey is the blade. and might have Dallas in trouble this week. They’re not perfect tho. Through four games, the Niners have allowed touchdowns on six of nine drives they've allowed to reach the red zone, a 66.7% rate that is tied for 23rd in the NFL. McCaffrey aside, the defense makes you earn every point. San Francisco is going to have a chance to notch a statement win Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys, and the way the Niners are playing, betting against them would be unwise. 2. Philadelphia (4-0) How about that Philadelphia vaulted defense says few? The Eagles are 27th in passing yards allowed (260.8 per game) and have yielded the third-most passing touchdowns with nine, trailing only the Broncos (13) and Bears (10). They still have Hurts to carry the team. Hurts threw for 319 yards and two touchdowns against Washington while adding 34 yards on the ground. At day's end winning is all that matters. And with the Los Angeles Rams and New York Jets next up, there's an excellent chance the Eagles will be a perfect 6-0 when the Miami Dolphins come calling in Week 7. 3. Buffalo (3-1) Was that a statement game Buffalo game division foe Miami on Sunday? Bills quarterback Josh Allen authored that statement as the Buffalo quarterback threw for 320 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for another in a game the Bills controlled from start to finish. The Bills defense also had a say. As great as Allen was in Week 4, the Bills defense may have been even better. Buffalo held Miami's high-octane offense in check, forcing two turnovers and sacking Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa four times. The defense did receive bad news. On Monday, coach Sean McDermott announced that the former All-Pro cornerback White is out for the season with a torn right Achilles suffered in the team's win over the Miami Dolphins. 4. Dallas (3-1) The performance against Arizona in Week 3 still resonates: 222 yards allowed, 180 in the first half, 7.4 yards per carry. However, with dominant defense, the team went right back to blowing opponents out and gave New England thorough beating. The Cowboys surrendered just 253 yards of offense and 10 first downs against an overmatched Patriots team. Dallas forced three turnovers, returning two for touchdowns. In the Cowboys' three victories this season, they have waylaid opponents by a combined score of 108-13. But on Sunday we will find out just how good these Cowboys truly are. Week 5 brings with it a trip to Santa Clara to face the undefeated 49ers. The Cowboys know opponents will want to run on them each week, and San Francisco (No. 3 in rushing) is up next, with two games against Philadelphia (No. 2) in the near future.  5. Miami (3-1) The Bills are a significant hurdle if the Dolphins are ever going to be considered legit Super Bowl contenders. Last week, the Miami Dolphins scored the most points in a game since 1966 and racked up the second-most yards in a game in NFL history. The team was the talk of the NFL. Well, the Dolphins are once again one of the league's biggest stories—for a very different reason. Because in Week 4, it was the Miami defense's turn to be embarrassed. There are several problems that plague the Dolphins' defense, including its inability to get off the field on third down. Miami is allowing opponents to convert on 46% of their third-down attempts -- tied for the eighth-worst rate in the NFL. The 414 yards of offense Miami allowed isn't that gaudy a number. But not counting a kneel-down at the end of the first half, Buffalo scored on eight of its first nine possessions. They’re back to the drawing board.  6. Kansas City (3-1) After outlasting the New York Jets on Sunday night, the Kansas City Chiefs are 3-1 and where they usually are; all alone atop the AFC West. But these aren't the Chiefs of years past—and that's cause for some concern. The Chiefs have five takeaways, tied for 11th in the NFL. That's not good enough for a team that thrives on the pressure it puts on the opposing offense. Mahomes will be able to magically lead the Chiefs to victory despite a lack of passing-game weapons outside tight end Travis Kelce, a suspect offensive line and an average defense. And any team with Patrick Mahomes is a dangerous one. But many have doubts as to whether these Chiefs can get back to the Super Bowl for the fourth time in five years. 7. Baltimore (3-1) Sunday's blowout win over the rival Cleveland Browns admittedly carries with it an asterisk as the Ravens pounded on a Browns team that was short both star running back Nick Chubb and starting quarterback Deshaun Watson. The question is whether these Ravens can hang with the likes of the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs and claim a spot as one of the AFC's true heavyweights. In the past two weeks, the Ravens have allowed three runs of 20 yards or longer -- only the Broncos and Cowboys have given up more in that span. The problem has been setting the edge with young outside linebackers. Or maybe they also have a problem on offense. Ravens topped 130 yards on the ground on Sunday but needed 40 carries to do so. Quarterback Lamar Jackson accounted for four touchdowns but threw for less than 200 yards and averaged just three yards per carry. We could say that the Browns defense is that great or we will wait and see.  8. Seattle (3-1) Stopping the run has been the only thing Seattle's defense has done consistently well. Everything else has been downright poor, with the Seahawks' third-down defense standing out as the culprit. The Seahawks ranked second-to-last in third-down percentage, allowing opponents to convert more than 57% of the time. When the top contenders in the NFC are mentioned, it's almost always three teams; the Philadelphia Eagles, the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys. Putting the Seattle Seahawks in that company may be stretching things a little as they try to move up the ladder. Note that quarterback Geno Smith is out for four weeks. Against the Giants, the Seahawks tallied just 281 yards of offense and 13 first downs. Seattle converted just three of 12 third downs so they have ways to go. After struggling over the first three weeks of the season, the Seahawks defense was dominant against the Giants. Seattle harassed Daniel Jones incessantly, piling up a whopping 11 sacks. The Seahawks had three takeaways, including a 97-yard pick-six from rookie cornerback Devon Witherspoon. The Seahawks will have the bye week and the team's other banged-up players to rest up. It may be a while before we know exactly how good these Seahawks are or not. They don't play a team with a winning record until a Week 9 trip to Baltimore. 9. Detroit (3-1) The team's last playoff win came all the way back in 1991 but yet, the Lions faithful are loud about this season. Few are laughing at these Lions now, not after they went into Lambeau Field and manhandled the Packers on the way to seizing first place in the NFC North. Here’s a roadblock to consider. The pass rush has certainly improved from the past two seasons, but the Lions' pass rush win rate is 32.3% through four games -- which ranks 29th in the league. The Lions have an outstanding offensive line and ground game. The defense is light-years better than last year's league-worst unit. And while Jared Goff may not be Patrick Mahomes, he's not Zach Wilson either. Here’s our final verdict:?Detroit is legit and the best team in the NFC North. 10. Tampa Bay (3-1) We love this! Baker Mayfield is back.Mayfield has led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 3-1 record and first place in the NFC South. Last week he threw three touchdown passes in a convincing win over the New Orleans Saints. Mayfield currently ranks sixth overall in quarterback efficiency. Instead of worrying who may be the team's next quarterback, the Bucs just may have found their guy. The Bucs' defense is giving up 17 points a game -- seventh best in the league. But it has given up 16 pass plays of 20 or more yards -- fourth worst in the NFL. There's also the matter of Tampa having played one really good team; a two-touchdown loss to the Eagles. But the Bucs head into the bye a first-place team with a week to get healthy before their second real test of the season; a home date against the first-place Detroit Lions. Their 3-1 start and a division lead in the NFC South are nothing to overlook. Mayfield has been everything the team hoped he'd be and more. 

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Week 6 College Football Top 10 Poll

Tuesday, Oct 03, 2023

EVERY TEAM IN OUR TOP 10 POLL IS UNDEFEATED.  1. Texas Texas is good at the line of scrimmage. Normally, a game against Kansas, the week before Red River, this would be a classic look-ahead game, and Texas didn't look ahead because this team is great on the line of scrimmage. They play really good defense, and they can run the rock. It wasn’t always pretty on Saturday, but it doesn’t have to be when facing a top-25 team. Quinn Ewers made one mistake that cost the Texas Longhorns some points, but Jonathan Brooks came through with 200 yards and a score while Adonai Mitchell and Xavier Worthy combined for over 190 receiving yards. Texas is what Georgia has been over the last couple of years: great on defense, consistent effort, great on the line of scrimmage. Now, we get what we wanted, a classic rivalry of Oklahoma vs Texas. 2. Michigan Complete domination. Michigan is better than Georgia. They would beat Georgia next week, maybe even in Athens. They have proven it at the line of scrimmage. The Wolverines can play defense, and they can cover. The Michigan Wolverines offense did its thing on Saturday, but the real standout performance in Week 5 came from Michigan’s defense. The Wolverines held Nebraska to 210 total yards on their first eight drives, pitching a shutout against the Cornhuskers’ starting offense. With more performances like this one or a signature win, Michigan can grab a top-4 spot in our CPO rankings. BTW, who is stopping the Wolverines' run game?  3. Georgia After playing Auburn, we have data and evidence that show that this Georgia team is a shell of what it was in the past. The Georgia Bulldogs have won 22 consecutive games and the victory in Week 5 is thanks to Brock Bowers. With 160 scrimmage yards on just nine touches, Bowers once again demonstrated why he’s an NFL star in the making. With that said, Georgia drops in the college football rankings again because it’s still not performing at the level you’d expect from a championship contender. Georgia is 67th in yards per carry allowed this season after ranking in the top three in each of the last four seasons. This is clearly not the same Georgia of what we were used to over the last two seasons, when it won back-to-back championships. I probably have them ranked too high.  4. Ohio St Coming off the Week 5 bye, the Ohio State Buckeyes head into a favorable two-game stretch of their schedule. There are several big storylines surrounding this team heading into its Week 6 matchup against Maryland, including the confidence of first-year starting QB Kyle McCord, who led that memorable game-winning drive to beat the Irish in South Bend. Maryland will be competitive, but it’s a matchup the Buckeyes should walk away with fairly comfortably and the same goes for Purdue. On the defensive side of the ball, OSU has been stout all season long, holding opponents to 8.5 points per game and ranking second in the country in scoring defense. If all goes well, we’ll get Ohio State vs Penn State on Oct. 21with both programs boasting perfect records. 5. Florida St After a one-week recovery coming off the overtime victory on the road against Clemson, the Florida State Seminoles now stare down a perfect opportunity to be 6-0. Jordan Travis threw for 289 yards and two touchdowns to help the Seminoles snap a seven-game losing streak against ACC foe Clemson. The Seminoles went undefeated in September for the first time in years and if they can beat Virginia Tech and Syracuse, it will be the first time Florida State is 6-0 since 2015. Their win over LSU is looking a lot less impressive by the week, as the Tigers fell to 3-2 after dropping a game to Ole Miss this past weekend. Also, the Seminoles have been outgained by 100-plus yards in each of their last two games. That alone is a recipe for an upcoming disaster.   6. Oregon  After what happened to USC in Boulder, the Oregon Ducks look even better. After trailing 6-0 at Stanford after the first quarter, the Ducks put their foot down and ran off 42 straight points in a dominant win over the Cardinal. Oregon is one of only two FBS teams averaging 50-plus points per game this season, with the other being USC. While Oregon might not have a quick strike offense that’s on the same level as the Trojans, it’s evident the Ducks’ defense is much better. Of course, head coach Dan Lanning will need to bring out every defensive trick and need his team to execute to near perfection for the Ducks to stop Washington and Michael Penix Jr. in Week 6. 7. Penn St It’s happening. Penn State was tied at the half with Northwestern this past weekend, and then, just like that, James Franklin's team came alive on both sides of the ball and cruised to a 41-13 win over the Wildcats. On an afternoon that saw Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen combine for just 107 rushing yards on 27 attempts, quarterback Drew Allar stepped up. The efficiency (5.7 yards per attempt, 54.5% completion rate) was bad, but Allar responded to a 10-10 halftime score with two touchdowns and he helped the Nittany Lions outscore Northwestern 31-3 in the second half of the game. If it’s defense you’re looking for, look no further. The Nittany Lions' defense held Northwestern to just three points on its final nine drives, looking like the same group that was coming off a dominant showing against Iowa the previous week. This is a unit that ranks first in the country in total defense, and third in scoring defense, takeaways and sacks.  8. Washington  The Washington Huskies are staring down a golden opportunity. This has been one of the best teams in college football in the last calendar year, with just a single loss on the resume since October 2022. If the Huskies can find a way to take out Oregon in Week 6, everyone will start talking up Michael Penix Jr. as the Heisman favorite as he leads Washington into the playoff hunt. Michael Penix Jr. leads the country in passing, averaging 400 yards per contest. He is the real deal, guiding an offense that is posting 569 yards per game, which leads all FBS teams, and 46 points per game, which ranks fourth. Now sitting at 5-0, Kalen DeBoer's team has a bye this weekend before hosting Oregon in a top-10 showdown on Oct. 14.  9. USC A notable drop for a winning team, and the Trojans defense is still very much a liability after allowing Colorado to score 48 points and make this close.Even in a win, Saturday was a massive disappointment for USC. This team is really good at football, and it has the best player in college football. USC is an elite team and an elite offense because of Caleb Williams. If teams were ranked based purely on offenses, Caleb Williams and the USC Trojans belong at No. 1. Unfortunately for Williams and Lincoln Riley, this Trojans’ defense is just as bad this season as it was in 2022. USC is 63rd in scoring defense and 103rd in total yards per game - and the Trojans haven't even faced the meat of their schedule yet. That's alarming. If you can only escape Colorado with a 48-41 victory, that doesn’t bode well for your program’s chances against Notre Dame, Utah, Washington and Oregon. 10. Oklahoma  Oklahoma’s Brent Venables' team is putting up more than 47 points per game this season, while also holding opponents to under 11 points per contest. The stage is set for the Red River Rivalry. Oklahoma vs Texas, the final meeting between these two rivals in the Big 12 Conference. It’s fitting that the stakes couldn’t be higher for this game and both teams will take the field with explosive offenses. Oklahoma is 5-0, having won every game by at least 14 points. The Sooners are fresh off a 50-20 win over Iowa State, a game in which they outscored the Cyclones 29-0 over the final 2.5 quarters. Dillon Gabriel has thrown for 300-plus yards in four of the team's five games this season. 

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NFL Top 10 Rankings (Week 4)

Friday, Sep 29, 2023

We’re down to only three teams undefeated thru the first three weeks. 1. San Francisco (3-0) Although Christian McCaffrey is off to the races for a scrimmage crown, Brock Purdy is dealing at a high level to George Kittle and all of his weapons, making it even easier on the defense to tee off. Brock Purdy is still undefeated but there’s one package that teams can bring; blitz. Teams are likely to continue trying to heat up Purdy with the blitz even though he's had success against it, but it would also help if the Niners, especially on the right side of the line, continue to improve. The Niners have also allowed one of the highest pressure percentages (33.3%) in the NFL. That’s their only weakness. Defense is definitely solid. The 49ers host Arizona this week.  2. Miami (3-0) Miami needs to shore up a few things defensively under Vic Fangio and will be helped with healthier bodies, including Jalen Ramsey. The Dolphin’s lead the NFL in total yards per game (550.3), passing yards (362), rushing yards (188.3), offensive expected points added (66.97), yards per play (8.4) and scoring per game (43.3). Additionally, it's hard to find an issue on a team that just scored 70 points with 726 yards of offense in a single game. Offensively, they keep finding more speed to boost Tua Tagovailoa and Tyreek Hill, now with a dynamic 1-2 punch in the running game with Raheem Mostert and rookie De'Von Achane. They have a huge statement game at Buffalo as a 3 point underdog.  3. Philadelphia (3-0) The Eagles need to get Jalen Hurts back to high efficiency in the passing game again. Defenses have often been dropping eight players into coverage while keeping safeties back to force Jalen Hurts into mostly short passes. Therefore, Philadelphia enters their Week 3 matchup against the Bucs ranked 27th in passing yards per game (162.5). The Eagles have needed to grind a little with their offense early but found their dominant rushing attack in Weeks 2 and 3. The Eagles host a much improved Washington team favored by -7.  4. Buffalo (2-1) The Bills have completed back-to-back lopsided wins, so it hasn't been a game-altering issue, but minimizing long situations on later downs would help the efficiency of the offense. They are not moving the ball on first down putting extra pressure on 2nd and 3rd down. That’s a poor formula for success. Their defense needed a stellar shutdown performance and that also came in Washington. Giddy up for Buffalo hosting Miami in an epic AFC East clash in Week 4. 5. Dallas (2-1)  In the past two games, Dallas has scored a touchdown on 3 of 11 red zone drives. The best red zone teams run the ball into the end zone but against the Cardinals, the Cowboys were without three starting offensive linemen. The Cowboys took the Cardinals lightly offensively, and once they fell behind, they couldn't dig deep enough with Dak Prescott to recover. They need Dak Prescott to be more accurate in tight quarters. They need Dak Prescott to be more accurate in tight quarters. And let’s not get started on what role Coach Mike McCarthy plays. Last season, they scored touchdowns on 40 of 56 red zone trips. Not having Trevon Diggs may be a bigger emotional blow to the defense than anticipated. Dallas is at Jerry’s Palace hosting New England favored by a touchdown.  6. Kansas City (2-1) Chris Jones' pressure and a dominant pass defense have been more impressive early as the Chiefs' defense is the big story early in the season. They're getting slowly revved up offensively toward their super standards with more diversity in the passing and running games for Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs have dropped 5.3% of their passes, which is tied for the sixth-worst rate in the league. Many of their drops came in the season opener against the Lions and were a major reason for the Chiefs' only defeat. The Chiefs are on the road in New Jersey as a big favorite over the Jets on Sunday Night Football.  7. Cleveland (2-1) Cleveland might be the sneaky new AFC North favorites. The Browns are coming off a dominant win over the Tennessee Titans, and QB Deshaun Watson delivered his best performance in a Browns uniform, completing 82% of his passes. Was this effort dedicated to missing Nick Chubb being out for the year? These next two games -- against the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers -- should reveal whether Watson and the Browns' passing attack can actually carry Cleveland to the playoffs. We get to see who’s the best so far in the AFC East as they host the Ravens. Early money has come on on Cleveland.  8. Baltimore (2-1) The Ravens got a little sloppy in the wet conditions at home and it cost them against the Colts in overtime. QB Lamar Jackson nearly has as many rushing yards (193) as all of Baltimore's running backs combined (249). Baltimore has been hardest hit at running back. In addition to the season-ending Achilles injury to Dobbins, two other backs have suffered injuries: Gus Edwards (concussion) and Justice Hill (toe). Defense’s will look to hit Lamar harder when he’s running out of the pocket. They can’t afford him getting injured. They still seem to be at their best running with Lamar Jackson and others and still uncomfortable forcing downfield passing. The Ravens face a difficult matchup against the Browns Sunday and come in as the underdog.  9. Seattle (2-1) Seattle scored 37 points and racked up 425 yards of offense Sunday despite going just 3-of-13 on third down (including a kneel-down in the closing seconds). The Seahawks haven't finished better than 16th in third-down conversion rate since 2015, a long-standing issue that has continued so far this season. The Seahawks' defense is having more issues vs. the pass everywhere on the field but the offensive formula of running balanced by efficient passing from Geno Smith is working well again.Seattle is playing Monday against the NY Giants and opened as a 1 point dog.  10. Detroit (2-1) Detroit’s offense is off to yet another strong start, scoring 20 or more points in 12 straight games dating back to last season. However, the ground attack could be more efficient. The Lions' defense made a statement in Week 1 at Kansas City before crashing vs. Seattle in Week 2. Aidan Hutchinson and friends rose to the occasion in ripping the one-dimensional Falcons and making it a simpler outing for Jared Goff. I believe that the passionate play of Hutchinson lifts every player on the team. 

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Top 10 College Football Rankings - Week 5

Thursday, Sep 28, 2023

The PAC 12 Dominates this Poll.   1. USC USC had a very rusty performance coming off a bye week. Although the defense gave up too many big plays against a shaky offense and struggled at times with tackling, this unit did create plenty of havoc (eight sacks and 14 TFL). USC quarterback Caleb Williams still owns a clean line of 300 passing yards per game with 15 TDs and no interceptions. We expect USC to prove why it’s one of the best teams in college football. Now, it's the Trojans turn to face Colorado and take advantage of their talents. 2. Texas The Texas Longhorns have come out of the gate slow a few times this season, but what matters is they’re finishing with victories. The Longhorns are 4-0 for the first time since ’12. Quarterback Quinn Ewers was efficient (18 of 23 for 293 yards and one touchdowns), while the defense dominated (allowed just 4.3 yards per play) in a 38-6 victory at Baylor. The upcoming two-week stretch against Kansas and Oklahoma could allow Texas to take control of the Big 12 race. 3. Oregon The defense allowed just 199 yards and six points to a Buffaloes’ attack that entered Saturday scoring 41.3 points per contest. Total domination. That’s the easiest way to sum up Oregon’s 42-6 win over Colorado. The Ducks rank seventh in the FBS with 232 rushing yards per game, and the defense totaled seven sacks of Shedeur Sanders. The Ducks averaged 7.2 yards per play behind a standout performance from quarterback Bo Nix (28 of 33 for 276 yards). The Ducks face Stanford (/27.5) in Week 5. 4. Ohio St  The Buckeyes won a thriller in South Bend, as running back Chip Trayanum scored a touchdown with one second remaining to secure a 17-14 road victory. We talked about Ohio State's defense, and that's was the substance behind Day's postgame rant after the Notre Dame victory. Quarterback Kyle McCord continued his development with a couple of clutch throws late and finished with 240 yards on 21 completions. Ohio State will have a bye week to prepare for that Big Ten schedule.  5. Florida St The Seminoles beat Clemson 31-24 in overtime. Florida State’s defense surrendered 429 yards and struggled on third downs (six conversions on 14 attempts), but a fumble return for a touchdown by this unit, along with timely plays by quarterback Jordan Travis and receivers Keon Coleman and Johnny Wilson helped the ‘Noles end a seven-game losing streak to Clemson. The two marquee wins are pushing the Seminoles even further up the latest college football rankings. The bad news? Florida State rushed for JUST 22 yards on 22 attempts, a problem that could resurface against an elite front-line defense. 6. Michigan   The Wolverines had a sluggish start against Rutgers but pulled away for a 31-7 victory in coach Jim Harbaugh’s return to the sidelines after a three-game suspension. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy threw for 214 yards on 15 completions. It's the first road game of the season playing at Nebraska. Should Jim Harbaugh be very concerned, Michigan’s schedule sets up for this team to be 9-0 in November when it faces Penn State. That will be the Wolverines’ first test of the season. 7. Georgia The Georgia Bulldogs haven’t been quite as impressive in 2023 as they were a year ago. The Bulldogs have yet to put together a complete performance, but as coach Kirby Smart’s team has showed at several points so far in '23, it can turn it on when needed to put an opponent away. Kirby Smart needs to preach the importance of fast starts this week. Smart’s defense remains one of the best in college football, Carson Beck is proving to be extremely efficient and the three-headed tandem at running back should keep the Bulldogs undefeated through October. Auburn (-14.5) is on deck. 8. Washington   Another week, another elite offensive performance by the Huskies. Washington used 304 passing yards and four scores by quarterback Michael Penix Jr. to crush California 59-32. Should the Huskies be ranked higher? Washington leads the FBS with 593.2 yards per game, and Michael Penix (209.58) has the second-highest passer efficiency rating behind USC's Caleb Williams. Washington faces an improved Arizona (-18.5) in Week 5, so they can't look ahead.  9. Penn St Thanks to a strong effort on both sides of the ball, Penn State thoroughly dominated Iowa in a 31-0 win on Saturday night. The Nittany Lions allowed only 76 yards and limited the Hawkeyes to just four first downs. Quarterback Drew Allar was sharp (25 of 37 for 166 yards and four scores) against one of the Big Ten’s top defenses and guided the Penn State offense to three touchdowns in the second half. Penn State has the other elite Big Ten defense in the mix. The Nittany Lions have allowed 15 points or less in all four of their games, including the shutout against Iowa. Are we under-valuing the Nittany Lions a touch? 10. Utah  Without quarterback Cam Rising for the fourth consecutive game, Kyle Whittingham and the Utah Utes pulled out another victory. Utah continues to grind out victories under the radar. Utah’s defense dominated in a 14-7 victory over UCLA. The Utes limited the Bruins to 243 yards (3.6 yards per snap), recorded seven sacks and 11 tackles for a loss, and allowed just three third-down conversions on 16 attempts. Quarterback Cam Rising continues to rehab a torn ACL, and Nate Johnson continues to do enough to win games in his place. Utah travels to Oregon State as a (+3.5) underdog for a Friday nightmatchup. 

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Wayne Allyn Root Week 3 NFL Top 10

Friday, Sep 22, 2023

Reminder; On any given Sunday…1. Dallas Cowboys (2-0)  Wow. Jerry has to be pleased. Still America's Team and they’re just the fifth in the Super Bowl era (since 1966) to score at least 70 points while allowing no more than 10 points collectively in its first two outings. They effectively defeated the overmatched Giants and post-Rodgers Jets. Let’s see how they do this week as a -12.5 road favorite against a undermanned Arizona team.  2. San Francisco 49ers (2-0)  So talented, so impressive, so consistent and cannot do better than winning your first two games on the road. The 49ers are home the next three weekends and are very likely to be 4-0 heading into a must watch Week 5 Sunday nighter against Dallas. It’s anybody’s guess how their home game against the NY Giants will unfold this Sunday.   3. Philadelphia Eagles (2-0)  They’re repping last years team so far. Philadelphia is a consistent power franchise. The Eagles that started 8-0 on the way to the NFC crown in 2022 could well match that with the Bucs, Commanders (twice), Rams, Jets and Dolphins ahead of a huge division game in a Week 9 visit from Dallas. They are playing on the road in Tampa this week on MNF.  4. Miami Dolphins (2-0)  Overlooked in the offseason, they might be really good. QB Tua Tagovailoa wouldn't mind playing New England every week, improving to 5-0 against Bill Belichick. With two road wins in the bank the AFC East is theirs at this time. They should be 3-0 after their home game against the Broncos.  5. Baltimore Ravens (2-0)  Emerging as early favorite in AFC North as expected by many. They have their team off to a hot start ny benefitting from a scalding defensive pace as Baltimore's D is allowing 23 yards in the first quarter this season. New OC Todd Monken's offense has made QB Lamar Jackson look much better in Week 2. He has an easy game at home as an -8 favorite against the Colts coming up.   6. Kansas City Chiefs (1-1)  The Chiefs avoided a 0-2 start as the reigning champs retain top billing amid AFC teams that have generally sputtered out of the gate. No one says it’s easy to defend their crown but they got an important win on the road against Jacksonville. However, the 1-1 looks pretty good with TE Travis Kelce and DT Chris Jones back and performing well. They should be OK after knocking off the Bears on Sunday.   7. Buffalo Bills (1-1)  Josh Allen got it right in a big way in Week 2 and his team now has a +22 points differential. The clean turnover sheet for QB Josh Allen is great with no red zone nightmares last game. But how encouraging is the offensive balance with RB James Cook setting career highs Sunday with 17 carries and 123 yards? They have ground to make up and play an improved Commanders team on the road this Sunday.  8. Detroit Lions (1-1)  Detroit is just a play or two from 2-0 and must not let the Seattle OT loss get in their heads. Hopefully Sunday's loss to Seattle won't be as penal as the 2022 defeat that cost Detroit a playoff berth. They are tied with Green Bay but that slick information is only needed for motivation as the rest of the NFC North also lost in Week 2. They have another home game this week they can win.  9. Atlanta Falcons (2-0)  The Falcons are 2-0 in two home games and some wonder how. Undefeated Atlanta is running more than 56% of the time … and why not with Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier, arguably the league's top RB tandem? It’ll be interesting to watch the NFC South as there are three teams at 2-0. The other interesting watch is playing on the road against an angry Detroit Lions  team.  10. New Orleans Saints (2-0) An unimpressive 2-0 is still a 2-0. One nugget is the defense looks to be in midseason form, having held 10 consecutive opponents to 20 points or fewer since last season. The offense does not, but QB Derek Carr is still acclimating and awaiting Alvin Kamara's return – which could be key given New Orleans' depleted running back room. Carr couldn’t win in Vegas because he had no defense. Well he finally has one now. So far your “Carr” has been a Plymouth and it’s time to step up to a Rolls! 

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Wayne Root's Top 10 College Football Poll: Week 4

Friday, Sep 22, 2023

One thing is for certain, there’s no unanimous No. 1 team in college football right now. On any given Saturday, one of the best teams in college football can lose.  1. Georgia  One more poor performance by Georgia and they will be bounced down; win or lose. Georgia bounced back from an abysmal first half against South Carolina, rallying from an 11-point deficit at halftime (their biggest in three years) to win 24-14. Yes, Georgia is still undefeated and its national championship odds should still be high. However, it’s also evident this team isn’t nearly as good as it was the last two years. 2. Michigan Following the Week 3 victory, Michigan Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh can return to the sideline. Based on how players reacted to the program, Harbaugh’s return will provide an additional shot in the arm for an undefeated team. The tune-up for Big Ten play was anything but for Michigan, which needed 17 points in the third quarter to pull away from the middling MAC team down to their third-string quarterback. 3. Texas A week after thumping Alabama, the Longhorns sleepwalked through most of the game, struggling to produce explosive plays, failing to convert on third down and committing ill-advised penalties. They needed 21 points in the fourth quarter to turn a 10-10 game against a Wyoming squad playing with a backup QB into a 31-10 “easy” win. Quinn Ewers (just 11 of 21 for 131 yards and three total touchdowns) never really had it, but a 44-yard score to Xavier Worthy, who turned a short throw that looked like nothing into a majestic, tight-roping run down the sidelines for a long touchdown, seemed to wake up Texas. The Bulldogs, Seminoles and Wolverines also allowed their opponents to keep the game close so the Longhorns are not punished this week.  4. Florida St Florida State was just 1 of 9 on third down and had just 340 total yards. The ‘Noles benefitted from a litany of self-inflicted mistakes by the Golden Eagles, who set a school-record 18 penalties for 131 yards, missed an extra-point and two-point conversion spoiling their upset opportunity. With a monster date with Clemson looming, the Seminoles survived an injury scare to quarterback Jordan Travis and a flat performance by the entire team, escaping Boston College with a 31-29 win in the Red Bandanna Game. We’re not high on Clemson, but a similar effort like this one from Florida State will result in a loss to Dabo Swinney. 5. USC After playing in Week 2, the Trojans were idle Saturday. They start Pac-12 play this week against Arizona State. They are a 33.5 favorite with a Heisman hopeful at quarterback. A bad Saturday for the Bulldogs and Seminoles opened the door for the USC Trojans to move up a few spots in the college football rankings. Caleb Williams and Lincoln Riley provide Southern Cal with all it need to have a shot at the CFB Playoff. 6. Penn St Old-school football fans have to love how the Penn State Nittany Lions are winning right now. The Nittany Lions took advantage of five turnovers (including four picks) to win at Illinois in Drew Allar’s first-career road start.Allar to settle in as the starter, but he will need to prove himself with the game on his shoulders at some point.Their defense, which also added three sacks, seven tackles for loss and four PBUs, really carried the day on an afternoon when the offense had very little rhythm.  7. Ohio St Behind a 35-point second-quarter explosion, Ohio State’s offense looked like an Ohio State offense for the first time of the 2023 season — rolling past Western Kentucky 63-10. Recently-named QB Kyle McCord had his first 300-yard passing game of his career, going 19 of 23 with three scores. Marvin Harrison Jr. once again proved why he’s one of the best players in college football and this Buckeyes’ offense is looking far more consistent. The drawback, for now, is our skepticism of Ryan Day and quarterback Kyle McCord in a big game.  8. Washington  Michael Penix Jr. is throwing fireballs so far this season, recording his third straight 400+ yard performance with a 473-yard, four-touchdown afternoon in Washington’s 41-7 splattering of the Michigan State Spartans. They had nine plays go for at least 30 yards and were up 35-zip at halftime, effectively running out the clock the last 30 minutes of the game.  Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. is writing his own lengthy Heisman Trophy candidacy script right now and added more highlights with 473 passing yards and four touchdowns. He's up to 1,332 yards, 12 touchdowns and just one pick for the year now. The Pac-12 is deep and strong this year, but it's possible Washington is the best of the bunch.  9. Oregon  In their final tuneup before Pac-12 play, the Ducks cooly dispatched Hawaii 55-10, jumping out to a 34-3 lead at halftime before emptying the bench. Bo Nix accounted for over 250 total yards and three scores, while Oregon rushed for 210 yards at a-that’ll-do 7.0 per carry. The stage is set for what will be one of the last must-see games in PAC-12 history. While the Oregon Ducks haven’t played their best football this season, this is an experienced roster with far more than than the Colorado Buffaloes have faced this year. They opened as a 21 point favorite.  10. Notre Dame The stage is set for the best college football game in 2023 to this point. Ohio State vs Notre Dame Saturday. The Irish were sloppy at times Saturday, not tackling particularly well and getting flagged eight times for 72 yards — one of which negated another 70-yard touchdown run by Estime. Notre Dame was down several starters defensively but it still held down a CMU offense. In the upcoming game with Ohio St, the quarterback advantage leads us to believe Notre Dame wins and eventually moves up even further in the college football rankings.

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Wayne Root's Top 10 College Football Poll - Week 4

Tuesday, Sep 19, 2023

One thing is for certain, there’s no unanimous No. 1 team in college football right now. On any given Saturday, one of the best teams in college football can lose.  1. Georgia  One more poor performance by Georgia and they will be bounced down; win or lose. Georgia bounced back from an abysmal first half against South Carolina, rallying from an 11-point deficit at halftime (their biggest in three years) to win 24-14. Yes, Georgia is still undefeated and its national championship odds should still be high. However, it’s also evident this team isn’t nearly as good as it was the last two years. 2. Michigan Following the Week 3 victory, Michigan Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh can return to the sideline. Based on how players reacted to the program, Harbaugh’s return will provide an additional shot in the arm for an undefeated team. The tune-up for Big Ten play was anything but for Michigan, which needed 17 points in the third quarter to pull away from the middling MAC team down to their third-string quarterback. 3. Texas A week after thumping Alabama, the Longhorns sleepwalked through most of the game, struggling to produce explosive plays, failing to convert on third down and committing ill-advised penalties. They needed 21 points in the fourth quarter to turn a 10-10 game against a Wyoming squad playing with a backup QB into a 31-10 “easy” win. Quinn Ewers (just 11 of 21 for 131 yards and three total touchdowns) never really had it, but a 44-yard score to Xavier Worthy, who turned a short throw that looked like nothing into a majestic, tight-roping run down the sidelines for a long touchdown, seemed to wake up Texas. The Bulldogs, Seminoles and Wolverines also allowed their opponents to keep the game close so the Longhorns are not punished this week.  4. Florida St Florida State was just 1 of 9 on third down and had just 340 total yards. The ‘Noles benefitted from a litany of self-inflicted mistakes by the Golden Eagles, who set a school-record 18 penalties for 131 yards, missed an extra-point and two-point conversion spoiling their upset opportunity. With a monster date with Clemson looming, the Seminoles survived an injury scare to quarterback Jordan Travis and a flat performance by the entire team, escaping Boston College with a 31-29 win in the Red Bandanna Game. We’re not high on Clemson, but a similar effort like this one from Florida State will result in a loss to Dabo Swinney. 5. USC After playing in Week 2, the Trojans were idle Saturday. They start Pac-12 play this week against Arizona State. They are a 33.5 favorite with a Heisman hopeful at quarterback. A bad Saturday for the Bulldogs and Seminoles opened the door for the USC Trojans to move up a few spots in the college football rankings. Caleb Williams and Lincoln Riley provide Southern Cal with all it need to have a shot at the CFB Playoff. 6. Penn St Old-school football fans have to love how the Penn State Nittany Lions are winning right now. The Nittany Lions took advantage of five turnovers (including four picks) to win at Illinois in Drew Allar’s first-career road start.Allar to settle in as the starter, but he will need to prove himself with the game on his shoulders at some point.Their defense, which also added three sacks, seven tackles for loss and four PBUs, really carried the day on an afternoon when the offense had very little rhythm.  7. Ohio St Behind a 35-point second-quarter explosion, Ohio State’s offense looked like an Ohio State offense for the first time of the 2023 season — rolling past Western Kentucky 63-10. Recently-named QB Kyle McCord had his first 300-yard passing game of his career, going 19 of 23 with three scores. Marvin Harrison Jr. once again proved why he’s one of the best players in college football and this Buckeyes’ offense is looking far more consistent. The drawback, for now, is our skepticism of Ryan Day and quarterback Kyle McCord in a big game.  8. Washington  Michael Penix Jr. is throwing fireballs so far this season, recording his third straight 400+ yard performance with a 473-yard, four-touchdown afternoon in Washington’s 41-7 splattering of the Michigan State Spartans. They had nine plays go for at least 30 yards and were up 35-zip at halftime, effectively running out the clock the last 30 minutes of the game.  Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. is writing his own lengthy Heisman Trophy candidacy script right now and added more highlights with 473 passing yards and four touchdowns. He's up to 1,332 yards, 12 touchdowns and just one pick for the year now. The Pac-12 is deep and strong this year, but it's possible Washington is the best of the bunch.  9. Oregon  In their final tuneup before Pac-12 play, the Ducks cooly dispatched Hawaii 55-10, jumping out to a 34-3 lead at halftime before emptying the bench. Bo Nix accounted for over 250 total yards and three scores, while Oregon rushed for 210 yards at a-that’ll-do 7.0 per carry. The stage is set for what will be one of the last must-see games in PAC-12 history. While the Oregon Ducks haven’t played their best football this season, this is an experienced roster with far more than than the Colorado Buffaloes have faced this year. They opened as a 21 point favorite.  10. Notre Dame The stage is set for the best college football game in 2023 to this point. Ohio State vs Notre Dame Saturday. The Irish were sloppy at times Saturday, not tackling particularly well and getting flagged eight times for 72 yards — one of which negated another 70-yard touchdown run by Estime. Notre Dame was down several starters defensively but it still held down a CMU offense. In the upcoming game with Ohio St, the quarterback advantage leads us to believe Notre Dame wins and eventually moves up even further in the college football rankings.

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Hedging NFL Futures and In-Game Bets.

Friday, Sep 08, 2023

The purpose of hedging NFL futures is to set up a two way middle for the playoffs.  Let’s say you bet Kansas City to win the Super Bowl. The possibility of them reaching the playoffs and having home field advantage is not an uncommon prediction. The Chiefs are + 550 right now to go all the way. In their first game of the playoffs we do not have to lay points. That a huge advantage for us; obviously.  Let’s say their first opponent is Miami Dolphins. The line could be Chiefs -7.5. Here’s our game situation. We have the Chiefs at Even for $550 and then we bet the Dolphins at +7.5 for $550.  Our goal is the middle the bets and win both. If the final score is: Chiefs 27-Miami 20, (or anything in between), we win the Miami money for $550 and our Chiefs bet moves on and we do the same thing in our second playoff game having the Chiefs.  Hedging bets is something that is talked about more than it is understood. It’s also a concept that can be very profitable because it can easily be used in ways that correctly  impacts your bottom line.  As far as NFL futures, I’m recommending a few bets that as division winners, should have home field advantage(s). It’s not impossible to imagine these teams in the playoffs and having home field.  Chiefs +550 Bills +800 Philadelphia +600 San Francisco +800 We should be able to hit middles with these as they most likely will have home field advantage of which we have all four team at pick ‘em. Additionally, as you begin to understand the concept then you also can see that you could do the same thing by betting on a game and hedging the bet with in-game betting. The opportunity to make a guaranteed profit happens surprisingly often, and even if that doesn’t work out quite right you can often limit the size of your loss by hedging. So, with hedging we can limit our losses and often guarantee a profit. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? Well, since it seems to good to be true there are obviously some downsides to hedging.  The first is that you often have to act fairly quick to be sure to get the right price. Hedging can be a bit confusing to think about when you are first doing it, so it is easy to make a mistake when you are working fast. And you must work your bets in a fast quick time element on game days.  Hedging and in-game betting is very popular but especially for Super Bowl futures. 

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Betting Notes on NFL and College Football

Friday, Sep 08, 2023

It’s time for FOOTBALL 2023.  Let’s get ready to WIN!! If you’re a serious college/NFL bettor or sports investor, it’s important to use all the tools at your disposal – including the right sports betting software and systems to help you optimize your bets. You need tools like real-time line moves, public betting percentages, bet signals and breaking injury alerts and that’s what Wayne Root is here to assist. Wayne’s proprietary software provides live NFL odds including sports point spreads, totals/moneylines, market bet signals, historical odds, betting trends & percentages, line moves, line predictions, value ratings and more. I mention this because one needs to understand that there’s a huge difference between studying and guessing. The NFL and college football is the most heavily bet sport that we cover, and betting against the public is a strong strategy to use. The more bettors that we have access or the more amateur or “square” bettors we have, we can use that to our advantage and get that information to you within our selections. Most weeks on Wednesdays, Wayne provides members a unique “insider” perspective on the weekend’s biggest early matchups with an advance play. Hopefully, our clients bet before the lines reset on game day. Read the vital news and information that shapes the sports betting industry from us weekly. Wayne has earned the respect of leading online sportsbooks and sports fans in his efforts to break down the barriers to winning in the sports betting marketplace. This is Wayne Root’s 38th year in handicapping the Vegas lines. Every week we analyze the sports betting marketplace to pinpoint which games the public are chasing and which the sharps are pounding.The goal of our weekly betting write ups are to highlight games that offer true line value. Often if a line looks too good to be true, there is a reason. You’ll occasionally need the worst teams on the board to come through. We typically buy on bad news and sell on good. We takes teams the public refuses to bet. After 38 years of observation, we know that the oddsmakers are not your friends and will jack up the point spread on public teams.  Last year, our College best bets won at an incredible rate. We identify them as a MAXX BET PINNACLE. They finished at 11-1, 92%. Remember that our plays are independently monitored. Again,  by taking teams that the public refuses to touch, we make a bundle year in and year out. The college football season starts August 26th.  Good luck and great wagers.  Wayne Allyn Root 

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Early Season Football Betting

Wednesday, Aug 16, 2023

One of the most frustrating things about the early football season in both college and the pros is when a team fails to meet expectations in their first game. But how is one to know exactly of those expectations? Did you hear them from Sports Center? Are you an alumni? What are your qualifications? Even coaches aren’t for sure about a team until they’ve watch them in action.  We spend a lot of time over the spring and summer deciding what to expect from a team, so when they don’t look anything like we thought we have to go back to the drawing board. It’s frustrating when a team we thought was good tanks, but it’s just as frustrating when a team we had written off looks like natural born killers. When you are forced to reconsider a team after their opener.  Is there an end game? Absolutely! That’s when it’s more important to know what the projected point spread was and look for adjustments in latter games. That’s when you pick up the slack and the added value offered. It’s more important to know the projected lines rather than the player personnel.  Put away your excitement until after the game is played. There’s no reason to get all hyped upon the future. It comes anyway. Just be ready for it. Quite often we get excited about the chances of a team because of changes they have made. Maybe they have changed defensive schemes, or they have installed a new offense. While those changes often pay real dividends in the long term they might not be smooth in the short term.  The first game of the regular season is the first chance that the starters have had to implement their new systems at full game speed for a whole game. Chances are good that there will be issues. That doesn’t mean that the team is doomed to disappoint all year. It just means that they will have to build up to their full potential. It’s important, then, to make sure that your expectations are based on what a team is now, not what they have the potential to be in a few weeks. We have exactly the same questions as the Joe’s have. However, we take our emotions out of the equation and investigate.  There are four factors when running your checklist. (Actually more but let’s start here). 1. Maybe the issue wasn’t that the team didn’t meet expectations, but that you set bad expectations. Rethink your initial analysis.  2. Did you get sucked in by hype, or fooled by negative but inaccurate reporting in the media? The suits on the four letter network might know how to read scripts but do they know what makes a Vegas Number? 3. Did you give a player(s) too much or too little credit? Maybe your teams credit was perfect but the Oddsmakers made the line -10.5 instead of -6. That’s more likely your misread.  4. Did you forget to account for a change in coaching staff, or did you give a change too much significance? One must have patience when there are new coaching staffs and even more patient with new player transfers.  This is where the Pros shine over the Joes. There are all sorts of ways to miss the boat on a team, and it happens to everyone. The successful bettors are the ones who can recognize when they have done it and quickly make adjustments. The season is not won or lost in Week 1 or week 2 for the team and especially the bettors. Don’t get wiped out with your bankroll by making poor decisions and stubbornness. It doesn’t work like that.

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Football is Just Weeks Away: This is Your Checklist

Wednesday, Aug 16, 2023

Nobody needs to read a detailed boring book to figure out what is written here. This is not Medical School or prep work for you Law Review. But if you don't bet correctly, you may have to go back to Grad School to become a doctor or lawyer to "pay the man." I am going to make a MUST READ CHECKLIST for YOU to review. Something short and to the point. There is nothing hidden here. Just a few paragraphs for you to review your betting habits. Let's see if you"re a PRO or a JOE.  1) There's a HUGE difference in "sports betting" and "sports investing". Many players guess and throw a $100 bill into the wind; hoping. Few look at the over-all picture and see that investing on football picks is a process that goes week to week. Like many songs, they become a "one hit wonder". I’ve seen customers win over and over, then move on and never get another “hit”.  2) Money Management. Now that the $100 bill is on your home town, or favorite team, it will lose more often than win. Now is NOT the time to continue to guess and chase to get even. But most do. Do you?? Probably as it's an ego thing for many. I know that Confucius didn’t handicap sports but he would have said this: ‘To Guess is Cheap.  To Guess Wrong is Very Expensive’.  3) Sports Bettors definition centers on "Pros vs Joes".  The "Joe" is a recreational average unsophisticated person that basically guesses at picking a winner. They bet hunches, their favorite team, picks thru media manipulation and the famous "system" play. He typically becomes a professional handicapper around his third Budweiser. The "Pro" is data driven. He wants to study point spreads and current line changes. He analyzes why the lines change. He uses team data, statistics, win-loss percentages, player injuries and he "follows the money". He takes the guesswork out of the equations. More importantly, if he’s running bad, he’ll let a Vegas Handicapping Professional pinch hit for him.   4) The View from the Oddsmakers. What they see.  They already know what you watched on TV the prior week and will adjust their point spreads accordingly so they already have you. They know what the sports radio and TV hosts are discussing. They move the lines based on those games and ESPN sportscenter.. We used to call it the "Sports Illustrated" effect. The Las Vegas Oddsmakers know the public will bet favorites and will over value those lines. They also know the players will most likely stay away from betting underdogs.  5) The Professional Sports Handicapper He knows this is NOT a luck-based business. He knows that sports investing is a profitable business of which he takes serious. He understands that math is an ingredient in his analysis of the betting number. He will never have you on a progressive betting system chasing. His biggest strength is "money management." He will shop and have you shop for the best numbers.  6) What a great Sports Service will Not do.  A. Our service will Not tell you a game is a lock!!! B. We will Not double up to catch up. C. We will Not bet parlays. D. We will Not hit 75% winners or tell you we do. We might have a run winning 70% but that is Not a "forever percentage." 7) Professional Handicapper vs TV Football pregame panel. A. The TV hosts can name the players on the team. They know all the coaches. They know how to talk about schemes and passing routes. They know absolutely zero about sports gambling...or winning...or the negative impact they have on the viewers. They rarely have sources to follow the money.  B. The Professional Football Handicapper knows about the "Vegas Line". He knows the average person won't beat the vig, and tracks polls of gamblers, parlay tickets, counter bets at sportsbooks. He is concerned if an injury will impact the betting line or if it is used by the media for manipulation purposes. The pro is in it to win!! His entire life is his investment in his craft. The TV guys have a salary, sharp suits and plenty of bling.  MY COMMITMENT TO YOU AND ALL MY CUSTOMERS HONESTY—INTEGRITY DEDICATED and DEVOTED

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Analysis of Yesterday's Game

Wednesday, Jun 21, 2023

I wanted to offer a free analysis the day following a play that I recommended. Win or lose. We’re all about transparency here and love teaching a few things while offering a couple of betting tips.  I told bettors to “Take Chicago Cubs”.The Cubs won 4-0 Tuesday. I loved the money line. Pittsburgh was on a losing streak and the Cubs were on a winning streak. Many sports bettors think of the “due” factor” for the Pirates to win with the Cubs taking a loss. That is not a reliable way of capping. Baseball goes in streaks.  Here was Tuesday’s line as I stated:I am taking the Chicago Cubs in this one over the Pittsburgh Pirates at -135. That’s not a line that will eat up cash. Laying -140 and above is burning up cash.  The Cubs had everything going in their favor here against the Pirates as they look to take the second game of the series on Tuesday. The Cubs lineup has been better all season long and as of late they have taken things to the next level averaging an eye popping 7.4 runs per game over their last 7 games, winning 6 of those contests. The main thought here is that baseball goes in streaks as mentioned. And 4 of those 6 wins came against this very Pirates team as well, so Chicago clearly has their number.  The Cubs also have a significant edge in the pitching matchup, with Stroman pitching at an All-Star level this year. Marcus Stroman pitched a five hitter thru 7 innings. He allowed no runs and had five strikeouts. Additionally and important is that Chicago got to rest their bullpen. I follow with that information in handicapping the following day. This day and age is needing strong bullpens.  I left this note yesterday; Note that (win or lose) I will be providing a free analysis of this play tomorrow. Be sure to read it.  I mentioned this would be broken down a day ahead so nobody would think I only talk about winners. This column is “Win or Lose”. Either way we have reasons to share no matter what the results.  Good Luck, I love betting baseball,Wayne Root

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Analysis of Cincinnati/Kansas City

Wednesday, Jun 14, 2023

Played Tuesday Gave Cincinnati and won 5-4 I stated that this could be a tug-of-war as the game features two starting pitchers who have yet to register a win for themselves this season. But while Williamson has yet to win in his five starts, the Reds have at least won four of those games. Unlike the Royals, who have dropped all thirteen of Lyles starts this season. I figured when a pitcher is 0-10, winning at home is pressure laden. So the mood was that Cincinnati was the better hitting team and would get to the Kansas City pitcher. The Royals were not scoring when Lyles pitched which added to the pressure individually. Kansas City has provided him with 3.8 runs of support in each of his starts, but that number is inflated by two ten spots. Over his last two starts they’ve put up just three total runs. I wouldn’t expect much more out of them here. In the end, they did score 4 runs last night which matched the normal 3.8 runs mentioned.They scored a total of just 14 runs over their six-game road trip and just nine runs in their four home games prior. When the Reds scored 5 runs in the 2nd inning, a strong degree of comfortability set forth. Cincinnati is 5-0 in their last five roadstarts against a right-handed starting pitcher and knowing a 0-10 righty was on the mound had the Reds salivating. Lastly, the pick held tremendous value as the Reds closed at -115. The vig you lay is the most important factor. (Or should I say, the vig you DON’T lay.) Be sure to come back and get my games. You will learn so much in the complete write ups that will have you building up confidence in betting on sports.  Good Luck,Wayne Allyn Root

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Reviewing a Typical MLB Game

Thursday, Apr 13, 2023

Let’s review yesterday’s 4-2 win with the San Diego Padres. (4/11) Given out as a free play. Be sure to follow.  The San Diego Padres have done well playing the NY Mets on the road. San Diego is now 7-2 in the last eight meetings with the Mets and 6-2 in the last seven in New York.  Baseball is slow to change the history between teams. It’s not until their current players are no longer around that trends begin to move. The Padres have great balance and play in the very difficult NL West honing their game day skills and forcing management to get great players. They are stacked from top to bottom and have already shown that if one guy isn’t doing anything, someone else is.  These two teams were highly touted back in the offseason, so this plays up as a good chance for San Diego to prove their dominance over high caliber teams while away from home. Yesterday, San Diego was up 4-1 in the ninth so they saved their relief pitchers as they were dominating the game since the Mets were held to 5 hits. I also liked that the public had 63% of the money on New York.  As a contrarian, that is another aspect of my decisions. There’s much more than just looking a data tho. Of course analytics help but so does being a World Champion handicapper living in Vegas. That victory work well yesterday but a whole new lineup and pitchers has to be analyzed for the following day. And so goes the constant grind.  Good luck betting baseball. The number 1 choice of top professionals like, Wayne Allyn Root.

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Gearing Up for the 2023 NBA Playoffs

Monday, Apr 10, 2023

Do you know which team has the best defense AND the best record since the All-Star Break? (Answer is below) Whether you want to believe it or not, throw out the regular season records for the NBA playoffs. Lay off the 10 years of trends. Look for anything but history. In fact, going against two teams season results will show more cashes. Trust me, the oddsmakers is making their lines knowing what the public will be.  If you see Fox, TNT or ESPN spouting out records of recent matchups, you’ll know what I mean. They are the worst. They’re accurate with their stats but the statistics don’t apply. So please try to avoid getting you betting selections from TV hosts. They are not gamblers.  NBA teams entering the playoffs now gear up for postseason basketball with the campaign wrapped up Sunday. Playoff seedings are set and we have a good look at each team’s route to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy.  This figures to be one of the most wild NBA playoffs in recent history. The defending champion Golden State Warriors are the sixth seed in the Western Conference, but near three dollar favorites in their first round series with the Sacramento Kings. In the Eastern Conference, the reigning conference champion Boston Celtics will likely have to get by Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks, but prohibitive MVP favorite Joel Embiid lurks, hoping to ruin the party. Three of the top four teams with the best odds to win the NBA title are from the Eastern Conference, led by none other than the team to last pull off a championship run. The best team against the spread entering the 2023 NBA playoffs is the No. 3-seeded Philadelphia 76ers. The worst team against the spread, meanwhile, is the No. 7-seeded Miami Heat. It’s a guarantee the oddsmakers know this and they will make their own adjustments.  The Celtics, who were the preseason title favorites after finishing runner-up to the Warriors in last year’s NBA Finals, have the next best odds among the teams in the field at +360. The Milwaukee Bucks are the team to beat, at +240. Using a odds calculator, that implies a 29.4% probability Milwaukee wins. They paced the NBA in victories during the regular season and were the only team with a winning percentage above .700. Answer: The LA Lakers

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Why Is March Madness So Different From 10 Years Ago?

Monday, Mar 20, 2023

Where are the -25 point spreads?Ten years and before, there were an abundance of favorites laying 25 to 32 points. We seldom see those numbers. In order to give some order to that, let’s look into it to understand why. It might actually have you betting less favorites.  Playing for Blue Bloods Very few great players from our “Blue Blood” teams stick around. The hit the ranks of the NBA. Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina first come to mind. Because of the NBA rules, they can’t enter until their sophomore year so they leave just as fast as they came.  One and DoneThen there are other “One and done” players that the coach thought he was safe in recruiting and the player departing altered the team chemistry. Players that were unheard of at the start of the season.   Transfer Portal The transfer portal has players arriving or leaving as soon as their season is completed. Because it only takes one or two good players to turn a team around, they get to choose a Power 5 team or in the case for college basketball, a very good Mid-Major. More importantly, they can handpick where to go to be starting. Who wants bench time at a Top 25 school? Better Coaching The coaching has definitely been elevated. The coaching is better with younger and brighter. Additionally, during the interview, I assure you that the AD  wants to know if any players will follow the incoming coach. Mid Majors The Mid Majors are incredible. Its not hard to get two great players which is 40% of the starting five. The players are calling the teams to see what’s offered instead of a coach going to them. NIL is Gold The NIL is paying the players. Let’s face it, cash is king. But as a player that’s not in the top 50, why would that ballplayer give up a few hundred thousand by being a 6th man at Duke or Kentucky and make nothing? That’s an easy recruiting tool for the small school coaches to use.  Team Chemistry The chemistry is so much better when players are performing as a team instead of star athletes selfishly playing their own brand of ball that one season. With everything the small schools have, getting players to stay is a great opportunity for these coaches to go deep in March.  Absolutely!!Any idea where Duke, Kentucky or North Carolina are at this point? OUTI love the scouting reports that indicate: Four Seniors

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The Rest of the NBA Regular Season Offers Profit

Friday, Feb 24, 2023

The most excitement in the next few weeks will be NBA teams juggling for the playoffs and particular seedlings. Pay attention to teams that made recent moves and those that didn’t.  With just over 20-ish games to go before the 2022-23 regular season comes to an end, there's plenty to keep an eye on with so much activity at the trade deadline and some extremely close playoff races. A ton of talent has hit the buyout market following the trade deadline, with names like Reggie Jackson, John Wall, Patrick Beverley, Terrence Ross, Danny Green and others all becoming free agents. Russell Westbrook will join the LA Clippers. I’m certainly not a Westbrick fan. Why did the Clippers even trade Utah for him? And then there’s Kevin Love. While his almost nine years in Cleveland ended poorly, there's a tremendous opportunity for Love to thrive now in Miami. He should really make an impact with his rebounding as he remains one of the best glass-cleaners the league has ever seen. Now almost an exclusive three-point shooter on offense, Love is making 35.4 percent of his threes this season despite playing through a hairline fracture in his right thumb. As for the Lakers, LeBron James said the next 20 or so games are the most important of his career. Thanks to a brilliant performance by Rob Pelinka leading up to the trade deadline, this is the best Lakers roster since the one that spent three months at Disney World. Still below-.500 at 27-32 and sitting at 13th in the West, time is running out to make a late playoff push, however. We’re excited to see if he can back up his statement and will look for opportunities to bet them. Los Angeles is just two games out of the play-in tournament, needing to leapfrog both the Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz and at least one of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans. They open up today playing Golden State. With so much help now surrounding James and Anthony Davis, both superstars can save some energy for the play-in tournament, one where they'd be one of the most talented teams to ever take part. The Lakers will make the play-in tournament, win and eventually reach the playoffs. Portland’s Damian Lillard is forced to watch as those competing for the same eight playoff spots in the West get better. The Phoenix Suns with Kevin Durant. The Dallas Mavericks with Kyrie Irving (LOL). The Los Angeles Lakers with D'Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley,  mJarred Vanderbilt, Mo Bamba and Rui Hachimura. For 11 years and under the eye of multiple general managers, this Blazers roster simply hasn't been good enough to win a title. So many other teams are better built to win now, while franchises like the Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz, Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs may soon pass Portland up with their collection of young talent, future draft picks or both. As for the Detroit Pistons, they made a big trade but they’re not going anywhere anyway. With the Warriors in championship-or-bust mode with knee surgery limiting James Wiseman to just 60 total games in his first three seasons, the 21-year-old simply needed more time on the court to avoid a bust label. The Detroit Pistons, dead last in the East at 15-44 overall, will provide James Wiseman with the opportunity that he needs. A strong debut in Detroit (11 points and five rebounds on 5-of-9 shooting in 24 minutes) is just the beginning of his career revival. The court time already represented Wiseman's second-highest of the season, time that should only go up as he gets more comfortable in Dwane Casey's system. Wiseman has always tantalized us with his size (7'0", 240 pounds) and skill set. He's got elite defensive potential with an ability to protect the rim. They can upset other team’s playoff dreams.  While the NY Knicks didn't land a superstar at the trade deadline, swapping Cam Reddish and a protected first-round pick for Josh Hart was a smart move, one that's already paying dividends. Besides being a friend and former college teammate of starting point guard Jalen Brunson, Hart is an ideal player to plug into a playoff rotation with everything he brings to the table. Beyond being one of the best rebounding wings in the NBA, Hart is a talented scorer from all three levels and a capable playmaker. While the Knicks may not catch the Cleveland Cavaliers for the fourth seed (currently 4.5 games behind), New York should overtake the Brooklyn Nets to settle at No. 5 overall. I feel sorry for Luka and his playoff hopes for the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks added one of the most talented players in the NBA next to Luka Dončić and actually get worse. The Mavs have given up 133 and 124 points in the two losses, showing that the team desperately misses Dorian Finney-Smith. They needed defense desperately. Dallas sits just two games above .500 at 31-29 overall, hanging on to the sixth seed by a half game over the New Orleans Pelicans. (The Pelicans are going anywhere without Zion). No one can fault the Mavs for gambling on a talent like Irving, but their lack of moves to put the right pieces around him and Dončić will ultimately be the team's downfall. The Denver Nuggets have opened up a five-game lead on the No. 2 seed Memphis Grizzlies, with the top star, Jokić leading the way. He’ll continue to lead his team in his attempt to win the NBA MVP award. With that being said, no one should be ruling out Joel Embiid's or Giannis Antetokounmpo's chances just yet as they also will work hard to better their team and seed.  The next five weeks should be fun. Be sure to pay attention to seeding changes. The one game play in will also have the bottom feeders getting involved without so much “tanking”. Good Luck as we head towards the playoffs. The playoff’s picture is considerably much clearer to our staff and myself. 

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The Surprise College Basketball Conference as of February 2023

Saturday, Feb 18, 2023

We all know about the Big 12 conference with Kansas and Texas in the top 10. Kansas St, Iowa St and TCU can knock off their share of teams rounding out the Big 12 teams that are ranked in the top 25. This is your Number One ranked conference.  The second rated conference is the SEC. Alabama is the number one team in the nation this week. I say this week because teams continue to knock each other off playing any given solid home game against others within their conference. Tennessee is also in the top 15.  The third ranked conference is the Big 10. Purdue and Indiana leads this conference, however, they have proved they can also lose. They’ve lost 12 games between them. Northwestern, Maryland and Iowa are the other notable teams. But not that strong.  Let’s skip the fourth highest rated conference for a second. And go to the 5th, 6th and 7th. These are perennial highly ranked teams. Meanwhile, who is #4? The fifth highest ranked conference is the Big East. They mesmerized the basketball world for so many years. They have Marquette, Providence, Xavier, Creighton, UConn and The Hall. But yet the Big 10 rated just ahead of them. They may have their rating scrambled with these two conferences. It will play out in March.  The sixth ranked conference is the ACC. Duke and North Carolina lost momentum when the transfer portals opened for other teams to get players. Virginia leads the ACC pack. Miami and NC State are also in the top 25. Duke and North Carolina have 13 loses between them. Why Pittsburgh at 12-3 and Clemson coming in at 11-4 are not ranked is baffling.  The seventh ranked college basketball conference is the PAC 12. With games starting at 11:00 est it’s not hard to figure out why there’s a west coast bias. For those that can’t watch games played between 11:00 pm est and 1:30 am est, not much has changed. UCLA is ranked # 4 in the nation. I predict them to be one of two teamed to be playing Monday, April 3rd. Arizona competes with them at 12-4 and USC has some talent.  Now back to the mystery fourth ranked college basketball conference that is the Mountain West. UNLV is in seventh place at 16-10. San Diego St at 21-5 is on top. Boise is in second at 20-6 along with 20-6 Nevada. Utah St is 20-7 as is New Mexico. Even the Air Force team that doesn’t like tall pilots has 14 wins. And a team that almost never wins games at any sport has a 16-11 record as in San Jose St. Did you know they’re the “Spartans”?  As we get closer to the March Madness tournament, today’s lesson to learn is that the changing of the guard is here. You’ll see Duke and North Carolina over-rated while the Mountain West teams under-valued. The Big 10 might get 7-8 teams in and the public will lay the over-priced lines. The Big 12 is solid so the oddsmakers will play it straight making their lines.  Also worth mentioning is the West Coast Conference (WCC) with St Mary’s and Gonzaga the top two teams with Santa Clara at 20-8 in third.  Lastly are two other teams in the top 25. Are they there because they are good or there because they beat up on the “sisters of the poor” teams within their own conference? Houston Cougars are a good team coming in ranked # 3 in the top 25. Florida-Atlantic is 24-3 and needs to be looked into to see how good they are.  We’re a month away from The Madness. We’ll continue to monitor everything and then some. Stay tuned as more articles will get you prepared for the biggest three week party this Country has. 

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The 3-Point Shot in College Hoops

Sunday, Jan 29, 2023

There are stats that one can use to decide if the three point shot will come into play in your college basketball betting. Let’s take a look.  With both elite and awful units, there are four types of games that you can derive analytics from.  1. an elite offense versus an elite defense (at times)2. an elite offense versus an awful defense (definitely)3. an awful offense versus an elite defense (never) 4. an awful offense versus an awful defense. (never) Depending on how the year to date statistics measure, one can find the answers of the possibilities but not the results. But you certainly can logically gauge them if you put in the work.  Don’t extrapolate these results too far. If your team plays a six foot three inch center, he’s probably going to get killed by Paul George. However, based on the four factors, matchups do not necessarily guarantee you make better predictions. Offensive and defensive efficiency by adjusted points per possession does an excellent job. The three point shot is a powerful weapon. It gives the underdog an opportunity to get hot and pull off the upset. It has also propelled a favorite like Villanova or or an underdog like Butler to excel in NCAA tournament championships. I often wondered whether the offense or defense has control over the three point shot. There’s a correlation from early to late season statistics in conference play more so than the preseason where elite teams play low level competition. The later, the more acceptable.  The defense has the ability to control what type of shots an opposing offense takes. They get to choose whether to go into a zone. Defenses can limit the fraction of shots an opponent takes from three. Defenses get to decide if the opponent can shoot from downtown or whether to guard the perimeter.  However, the defense has no control once the offense puts up a three point shot. Randomness plays a big role in determining three point percentage allowed. Even more surprising, randomness also plays a big role in an offense’s three point percentage. While shooting is a clear skill, the data shows regression to the mean in three point percentage. When was the last time you looked at three point attempts in your pregame analysis? It’s how often one attempts a three point shoot. A team going 3 of 4, (75%) means very little compared to a team that jacks up 22 attempts. Three point attempt percentage is one of the most predictable shooting-related stats around. We’ve already established the defense has influence over this, but a major part of an offense’s style is how often they want to shoot threes, so they have influence, too. More influence than the defense, actually. This certainly shows that even tho the defense has their say, the offense can counter.  There are games where good shooters get a bunch of open looks and they make more than a third of their attempts. You wouldn’t call that luck. (Although, from the offense’s perspective the shooters enjoyed some good fortune to be left open.) But in the long run, that kind of stuff evens out a lot more than one would have thought. In the end, coaches have to decide how much they want to play the lottery by putting it up from 35 feet.  Sometimes, it will be advantageous for the defense to let the offense to take a bunch of shots and sometimes it won’t. The offense has to consider the same things. Each philosophy may be correct given the alternatives inside the arc. There are obviously a lot of factors for a coach to consider in making these decisions; many more than just what a team’s 2-point accuracy might be. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting way to think about how defenses (and offenses) work. And what percentage you are backing if three point shots are expected or not. One consideration I would say is mandatory to analyze is the underdog. There’s nothing like a run of three pointers to get an underdog side back into the game and covering your spread. The back door cover is accomplished from outside the arc more than a series of two point shooting.  Good Luck Wayne Root

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How Far Can Marquette Go In College Hoops?

Thursday, Jan 26, 2023

Is it time to get behind the storied program of Marquette basketball? We know that Marquette is really, really good. Based on total second half season bust in the past, I’ve been the holding back on that statement the last 2 weeks. A very difficult stretch saw this team come out even stronger than when it went in so maybe that poor play towards the end of conference play is in the past.  As for Coach Smart’s motivation, they walk along the hallway leading up to the men’s basketball office each day. The Marquette’s players can stare at the walls and see photographs celebrating the greatest teams in program history as a reminder. Now they’re intent on making themselves one of those teams. The last team featured is the squad that won a share of the Big East title and reached a regional final in 2013. Marquette hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since, which helps explain why this series of photos ends with a white space including nothing but a Marquette logo. They got even more motivation last week when Marquette honored the school’s 2003 Final Four team during halftime of a victory over Providence. Marquette, who was picked 9th in the Big East in the preseason, has cracked the top twenty after winning in dominant fashion at Seton Hall. In their most recent game, the Golden Eagles beat Seton Hall on Saturday, 74-53. Their top scorer was Kam Jones with 22 points. It isn’t just one outlier site that I’m currently cherry-picking from either that projected that Marquette finishes at 15-5, while Xavier, Providence, UConn and Creighton all have their projections capped at either 14 or 13 wins. Only Xavier is ahead of them in conference play. However, Marquette has an 11-1 record in games it was listed as favorites, while finishing 3-3 when listed as the underdog. That’s where Coach Smart is delivering his message. They can win the big games but are not focused on the bottom feeders. As a consolation, the NCAA tournament won’t have those bottom feeders there. But the biggest reason why it’s time to take Marquette’s Big East title odds seriously is that it has the most favorable schedule remaining of all the possible competitors. Consider this a free prop bet suggestion for winning the conference title.  The Golden Eagles have been carried by their offense, as they rank 16th-best in college basketball by tallying 82.3 points per game. Coach Smart built his reputation on the “Havoc” defense that enabled VCU to press its way to a Final Four appearance in 2011. His Marquette squad is winning with a ruthlessly effective offense.Marquette leads the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency, a metric measured by college basketball stats guru Ken Pomeroy that essentially translates to points scored per 100 possessions when adjusted for the level of competition. The Golden Eagles are making a remarkable 60.6% of their two-point shot attempts. The Golden Eagles share the ball so well that five of them are scoring at least 9.7 points per game: Kam Jones (16.4), Olivier-Maxence Prosper (12.2), Tyler Kolek (10.1) and David Joplin (9.7). The rant in the past was to take Marquette only in home games. With this team, they will get favorable point spreads on the road and at the Big East conference tournament. I wish them well as they are a huge part of what has made college basketball to be where it is today.  Good Luck,Wayne Allyn Root

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Betting College Bowl Games

Thursday, Dec 15, 2022

The bowl game season is among us. It’s like three weeks of Christmas opening up a different present everyday. The thing I like the most is all the time there is from now until the bowl games are played. That can create great opportunities if you disagree with the public, but can be frustrating and costly if you like the same team. In these games the public action is far less significant. They are looking ahead to the championship game and focusing on the wild card games in the NFL, so they really don’t care about these small bowl games. We amass tremendous betting information during this time. The counter bets, the huge bets from amateurs, the sharp guys and the parlay players. Many gamblers come to Vegas during December to bet their favorite teams. That means that there is a much better chance of getting a fair price when betting. It also means that as a college football handicapper you can attach more significance to any line moves that happen because they are more affected by smart money. That extra time is power for us. Use it to find out about key players that are passing on their bowl game from not wanting injury or bad exposure.  Look for value Overlooked strong matchup pop up all the time. A game doesn’t have to be played for the playoffs or New Years Day to have value. Some years the matchup is almost of BCS quality, but it draws a small fraction of the attention and betting action that the BCS games draw. That means you have the opportunity to bet on a big time game without the big time attention surrounding it. That’s a rare and pleasing opportunity for football bettors. The long layoff  Long layoffs affect teams differently. The gap between the last game of the regular season and the bowl game is always a factor in bowl handicapping.Football teams can have as many as six weeks between games. For bettors who are paying attention and who can get a good sense of the motivating psychology of teams this is a very good thing. There is so much that can affect how a college team plays after a long layoff – how healthy they are, how good their coaching staff is at preparation, the focus and discipline of the team, the excitement a team feels about playing in the game, any changes to the coaching staff since the last game, and so on. One of the biggest factors is the passing game of teams. Long layoffs really affects the timing of many quarterbacks to wide receivers.  Players that opt out The betting public doesn’t typically interpret the affect of these on a team very well, so the better you are at it the more opportunity these games can present. Additionally, in today’s age, many players opt out to protect their career from injuries if they have NFL talent.  Go with what’s working  By the time the championship playoff games roll around you have seen more than 25 bowl games, and you have bet on a good number of them. The best way to learn about how to handicap effectively is to look at what has been working for you with college football games. When you handicap these games you have three weeks of valuable first hand experience to draw from. Most players problems are that they don’t apply what they’ve watched or learned. However, if you learn from what has been working and what hasn’t then this should be the best part of your bowl season.

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NFL Week 12 AFC Top 5 Teams

Tuesday, Nov 22, 2022

For this week of Power Ratings, I have separated the NFC and AFC team into their own conference heading forward.  1. Kansas City Chiefs Patrick Mahomes does it again. Then again, everyone expected that when he got the football trailing by four with less than 120 seconds left in the game. Fittingly, Mahomes didn’t even need all that time to win it. The Chiefs are the best NFL team right now and they’re the Super Bowl favorite because Mahomes is like no player we’ve ever seen. He’s 14-0 lifetime on the road in the AFC West and has destroyed what many thought would have a competitive race this season.   2. Buffalo Bills  Sunday represents a nice step forward for the Buffalo Bills, but it’s becoming increasingly apparent just how many key absences are hurting the defense. When Tre’Davious White, Tremaine Edmonds and Greg Rousseau return, the Bills are the best team in the NFL. They have a few more issues than 80” of snow. Allen has been throwing interceptions while in the red zone and his overall accuracy is like it was at Wyoming or in year one. It’s everywhere.  3. Miami Dolphins The AFC East is shaping out to a possible 3 way race. Who would have thought. The Miami Dolphins boast the offense to challenge the Chiefs and Bills. Tua Tagovailoa is executing this offense perfectly and there is far too much speed and explosiveness for opponents to match. But if Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen gets the football, no one would trust Miami’s defense to record a stop right now. That’s what they need to sort out. A defense to match their offense.  4. Baltimore Ravens  Surviving is all that ultimately matters for the Baltimore Ravens, but there are red flags coming out of this matchup. They are one dimensional in their offense and Carolina’s defense had some relative ease in containing things. Another thing to keep in mind, the top of the NFL is very fluid right now but the Ravens’ schedule (@ JAX, vs DEN, @ PIT, @ CLE, vs ATL) sets this team up well for a confidence-building run before January. They have an easy path going forward to the playoffs.   5. Tennessee Titans  Everything the Tennessee Titans are doing right now is impressive, especially considering where this team was viewed following an 0-2 start. At the same time, all of it feels so eerily similar to what happened in previous seasons. Look at the Titans’ playoff history, and the current team then determine if you really trust them to avoid the same postseason heartbreak. They may have the best coach for this run for the playoffs. And Derik Henry is a beast. All that’s needed is for him to finish the season in beast mode fashion. 

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NFL Week 12 NFC Top 5 Teams

Tuesday, Nov 22, 2022

For this week of Power Ratings, I have separated the NFC and AFC team into their own conference heading forward.  1. San Francisco 49ers The San Francisco 49ers are shaping up to be a dangerous playoff team in the NFC. Both the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles struggle to stop the run and they do have some issues against opponents who can get home without blitzing. These happen to be two of the things San Francisco is best at. Of course, that is if Jimmy Garoppolo can avoid mistakes in critical situations. The way they looked and played last night against Arizona in Mexico City looks like the best team on both sides of the ball.  2. Philadelphia Eagles  Jalen Hurts saved the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, just days after he might have done it if not for some gaffes by teammates and the officials. As Hurts ascends into the conversation of elite NFL quarterbacks, he and the Eagles’ defense are carrying this club to the top of the NFC. The last two weeks have given other teams in the NFC lots of confidence after seeing the Eagles performances.  3. Dallas Cowboys  If the Dallas Cowboys took their previous matchup against Green Bay lightly, it was quickly made apparent they wouldn’t make the same mistake in Minnesota. Dallas overwhelmed the Vikings on both sides of the ball, delivering one of the best NFL performances in 2022. There are still a few questions that prevent the Cowboys from being viewed as the best team in the NFL, but they are in the running. Winning like that keeps GM and Owner Jerry Jones from making comments and the players play and the coaches coach.  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers  There’s a feeling of optimism coming out of the bye week for Tampa Bay. Tom Brady and Byron Leftwich had the time they needed to make adjustments for the second half and we’ve seen more than enough to believe in this defense. Considering the NFC South is a cakewalk and Tom Brady is divorced, Tampa Bay can coast into a playoff spot. It wouldn’t surprise me if Brady doesn’t get that chip on his shoulder and another ring on his finger now that he’s in 100%.  5. Minnesota Vikings  Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water and when fans started thinking about the Minnesota Vikings as a Super Bowl contender, the team delivers one of its worst performances in years. Everything that could go wrong did on Sunday. But was the game an anomaly or a Dallas team that exposed them? The fact is, the Vikings might literally burn the tape from this game. Unfortunately, things won’t get any easier as the Patriots’ pass rush is a nightmare matchup for Minnesota on a short week and consecutive losses would spell trouble in the NFC.

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NFL Over/Under Betting

Tuesday, Oct 25, 2022

Betting on NFL over/under action is not only simple and exciting, but it also happens to be one of the most reliable ways to pad your bankroll. Remember the stats of previous games don’t lie. The problem is that the average Joe doesn’t understand what applies and what is useless. Placing the data correctly into that particular matchup is paramount in success.  Handicapping NFL over/under bets is a reliable way to become a successful sports bettor. Whether you’re a rookie or a seasoned sharp, finding opportunities to hit NFL totals is a profitable and exciting method to wager throughout the season. Making over/under wagers is one of the most polarizing subjects in NFL sports betting. While most sports bettors prefer to take the over (who doesn’t love high-scoring games?), there are times where a defensive battle between two stalwart teams calls for an under wager. Looking at NFL betting trends is another effective method when deciding whether to wager on the over or the under. This includes analysis of turnovers. By the middle of the season, most turnovers begin to digress to the mean.  While the public has a habit of blindly wagering on the over, there are other variables that can cause a noticeable change in the betting trends. Factors like indoor/outdoor & home/away splits, weather conditions, and power rankings/standings can influence many sports bettors into wagering one way or the other. One of the most important aspects of over/under betting is line shopping for the best NFL odds. Sports bettors love to take the over, and as such, the public typically causes a lot of line movement. As more fans start betting the over, bookmakers adjust the line to increase the total number of points on an over/under wager. If you’re looking to bet the over, it’s better to get your wagers set earlier in the week before the public starts forcing significant line movement. On the other hand, if you’re favoring the under in a game, you might want to wait closer to kickoff to fill out your bet slip. Choose a top seasoned professional to help.  As far as weather, totals are certainly affected by the weather. Each case is different. Is the rain just gently coming down or coming down sideways? Is the snow coming as flurries or an inch an hour. Wind is the most important weather impediment in the outcome so if the announcer says welcome to bright and sunny Chicago, listen to what he says about any wind. 

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NFL Top 10 (Thru Week 6)

Friday, Oct 21, 2022

1. BUFFALO BILLS The highest of expectations were set for the Buffalo Bills, and they have shown why many thought this team could be the best in the league. While Josh Allen was doing his MVP act on one side of the ball, Von Miller was again making Buffalo's brass look like a genius collective by delivering a two-sack day and the QB pressure against Kansas City. With the win, the Bills gain a tiebreaker advantage that could have major ramifications come January. The team is getting healthier, but backups have largely been up to the task, showing just how well-rounded of a roster GM Brandon Beane has built. 2. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES  This will give those halftime pep talks a new meaning for opposing teams. The Eagles have scored 112 second-quarter points in 2022, the most points in any quarter in NFL history through a team's first six games. Many thought quarterback Jalen Hurts would improve in his second full season as the starter, but I weren’t expecting him to be in the early MVP conversation. Hurts is a primary reason the Eagles are undefeated. As football's lone undefeated team, Philly will come out of its Week 7 bye facing a favorable schedule, with three straight games against teams owning two or fewer wins through Week 6.  3. MINNESOTA VIKINGS   With the Packers out of their way for now, the pressure has lessened for a short few weeks moment. Minnesota isn't anybody's idea of a juggernaut, but five wins in six games -- picked off only by the undefeated Eagles -- tells the story of a team that knows how to close. . "It's very much the inverse of 2021," said Kirk Cousins as he’s finally not the inverse hot topic on Sunday night TV crushing his confidence. The Vikings lack of injuries is incredible thru six weeks of banging. Not only were the Vikings ready to open 5-1, but 21 of their 22 starters have made every start that led to this turnaround.  4. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS The Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes play as they just can’t wait to get the regular season over and get to the playoffs. They need to figure out Von Miller by January if they’re going after another piece of the Lombardi hardware. Their only improvement needed is the need to improve their pass rush with their front four other than Chris Jones when they don't blitz. The Chiefs have eight sacks with their down linemen, including three from Jones. They need more quarterback sacks. They were 29th last year and barely show an improvement this season. 5. DALLAS COWBOYS “I’m back” said Dak. It's time for Dak Prescott to rejoin the gang. Cooper Rush's run as an undefeated starting QB came to an unceremonious end on Sunday Night Football, as the Eagles picked off the Dallas passer three times in a 26-17 loss at the Linc. Early reports point to a Prescott return this Sunday against the Lions. If the Cowboys get as jacked on their high horse as their fans, we can see the Cowboys extend their Wild Card run or if real lucky, overtaking the Eagles in the NFC East. Here’s some good news for Jerry’s radio show. The Cowboys play Detroit and Chicago before heading into the bye week. If Prescott plays as expected, the Cowboys will be in the thick of the playoff chase. 6. CINCINNATI BENGALS The big question here they’re asking are the Bengals waiting for someone or something to get them looking like the runner up of last years Super Bowl. His play was definitely inspired by where he was playing last Sunday. The third-year quarterback tallied 300 yards through the air and improvised brilliantly on the scramble in a successful Superdome homecoming for the LSU legend. Tigers teammate Ja'Marr Chase (7/132/2), put the Bengals ahead for good via a 60-yard catch-and-run score with two minutes to play. Chase had been bottled up for much of the season until the second half on Sunday. Burrow and Chase are fixin' to go on a rampage. Cincinnati is still in the middle of the pack in expected yards per play, and a 30-26 win over the New Orleans Saints hinted that the unit could be trending upward. 7. NY GIANTS It’s been quite some time since I last had the Giants rated with a single digit. They hadn't topped six wins in any of the previous five seasons. They’ve certainly had their share of luck and big blue come backs. Much credit is in order for Don "Wink" Martindale, who cooked up another fine defensive game plan that neutralized Baltimore’s QB Jackson and allowed the offense to wipe away a 10-point deficit in the second half. This is old hat by now: The Giants are 3-1 in games in which they trailed by double digits. Buyer Beware: If you let the Giants hang around in a game, there's a good chance they'll find a way to beat you. It doesn't matter that the Giants are 23rd in total offense and 15th in defense. Coach Brian Daboll has this team believing and finishing. They've outscored opponents 87-49 in the second half of games. 8. BALTIMORE RAVENS Try explaining this every Monday at the water-cooler. The Ravens are up to three losses in which they led by at least 10 points in a game -- matching a team record for most such losses in a season. Coming in, it was thought that the Ravens would have the NFL's best secondary. But Baltimore ranks 28th against the pass, giving up an average of 267.7 yards through the air. Through Week 6! Lamar Jackson is a former MVP who has had stretches this season when he’s looked better than ever. But the quarterback also bears his share of the responsibility for three confounding late-game meltdowns that have defined a .500 start. It’s unknown which way the Ravens are headed.  9. SAN FRANCISCO   The 49ers should begin their climb to the upper tier of the NFC West as they get half their team off the injured list. The 49ers are watching another season get turned upside down by injuries. At 3-3 and tied with the Seahawks and Rams, it should be like shooting fish in a barrel for them to win their division when players return. Their defense was the limping wounded. By the end of Sunday’s 28-14 loss to the Falcons, the Niners were down to four of 11 projected starters on their defense. San Francisco still struggles on kickoff returns, has given up 23.2 yards per kick return (ninth worst in the NFL) and had two field goals blocked. The result is a unit with an expected points added of minus-3.5, which is 21st in the NFL.  10. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS  What the heck has happened to the L.A. offense? Justin Herbert looked positively pedestrian, averaging 4.2 yards per attempt while leading Los Angeles on a single touchdown drive. At his best, Herbert attacks defenses downfield like no other quarterback, but a prime-time showcase put the gunslinger in constant checkdown mode to Austin Ekeler (10 catches on 16 targets) against a Broncos defense. And after ranking among the worst units in the NFL (No. 29 overall) allowing an average of 27 points per game in 2021, it was widely thought that the Bolts defense would catapult up the rankings after significant offseason upgrades in personnel. However, despite the additions of All Pro edge rusher Khalil Mack, Pro Bowl cornerback J.C. Jackson and defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day, the Chargers remain ranked among the league's worst defenses (No. 26 overall), allowing an average of 25.3 points per game. Joey Boza can’t return fast enough. The Bolts can be better. They had so much potential to start the season. There’s two questions: Where did it go and can they find it?  

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NFL Top 10 (Thru Week 1)

Tuesday, Sep 13, 2022

There really weren’t any surprises in the top two or the top six. This early in the season after one game, it just shows to expect the unexpected and that anything can happen on any given Sunday. Don’t worry if you don’t see your team as this Top 10 will play out with the real talent coming to the top in time for the playoffs. 1. BUFFALO BILLS After their showing against the Rams, there is no doubt they should be in this top spot. They sent a message to the rest of the league with that victory. Josh Allen played like an MVP favorite, and the Bills' front seven dominated the trenches, making life miserable for Matthew Stafford. On paper entering this season, it looked like Buffalo had the most complete team in football. One game in, the on-field product supports that notion 2. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS Who misses whom first? Will it be Patrick Mahomes missing Tyreek Hill first or Tyreek missing Patrick first?Mahomes showed against the Cardinals that he can still play at a high level without Tyreek Hill. That offense will be just fine. Mahomes completed passes to nine different receivers and threw five touchdown passes, connecting with four different targets for scores. The heart of the attack remained Travis Kelce (8/121/1 on nine targets), but an eye-opening 2022 debut from Clyde Edwards-Helaire makes you wonder if Andy Reid’s new-look attack will turn the running back into the impact chess piece. 3. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS The Chargers had to play one of the most hyped and widely bet games of the week. The Chargers received impact performances from a host of newcomers in a promising 24-19 win over the Raiders. It was OLB Khalil Mack that had three of L.A.'s six sacks of a rattled Derek Carr at SoFi Stadium and was instrumental in defeating his former team. Justin Herbert was predictably great, finding ways to move the offense even after Keenan Allen left the game. With that passer in Justin Herbert and those pass rushers in Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa, they have the two main things needed to win it all. Now they have a chance to show the Chiefs this week in a big early game. On their wish list for Thursday night vs Kansas City, will J.C. Jackson, the team's prized free-agent addition at cornerback, make his debut? The Bolts sure could use him with that Mahomes guy taking aim.  4. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS An elderly Tom Brady has to get recognized for going into Jerry’s Place and coming away with a win. Dallas injuries or not. The defense really impressed against the Cowboys. But the banged-up offense looked off at times. The offensive line has injuries, which isn't a good thing going to New Orleans. Todd Bowles built his reputation as a defensive wizard and a 19- 3 final should ring out to other teams that the defense is there to match their offense. Did you notice Julio Jones in his Bucs debut? They’re hoping for a sudden impact from him The Bucs did suffer two injuries.  5. MINNESOTA VIKINGS The Vikings got off to an impressive start in beating the Packers in dominant fashion. The defense really impressed and Justin Jefferson was unstoppable. Jefferson, the third-year superstar was untouchable on Sunday against the Packers, piling up nine catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns in a 23-7 win over the three-time defending division champs.Give some credit to new coach and play caller Kevin O'Connell, who moved Jefferson around the field and appears ready to use his top receiver in more imaginative ways than previously seen in Minnesota. Kirk Cousins cupboard is filled and he’s one game up on the three-time defending division champs.6. BALTIMORE RAVENSBaltimore's defense dominated, routinely collapsing the pocket on old friend Joe Flacco. When the Jets did move the ball, the Ravens bowed up near midfield and forced timely turnovers. It wasn't always pretty against the Jets, but Lamar Jackson got it going in the second half. It will get a lot tougher for this offense going forward. Jackson was on target as a passer, connecting on three scores -- two to Devin Duvernay, who delivered an intriguing performance for a team in need of playmakers. It remains to be seen if the bitter frustrations of 2021 are over. Let’s not get overly excited tho as they played the NY Jets.  7. PHILADELPHIA EAGLESNew No. 1 wide receiver A.J. Brown was an immediate-impact playmaker, piling up 10 catches for 155 yards on 13 targets. Meanwhile, the tandem of Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders rushing behind a stout offensive line has the potential to turn Philly into a matchup nightmare for any opponent. If Jalen Hurts can play like he did against the Lions, this could be a deep playoff team. The defense was not good, though, which has to be a concern.This offense is going to be a problem for teams. The Eagles rolled up 455 yards on 10 possessions against the Lions in a 38-35 win. Hopefully their fourth quarter was an anomaly.  8. NEW ORLEANS SAINTSThe type of Jameis Winston performance against the Atlanta Falcons will make believers out of doubters. The polarizing quarterback was shut down along with the rest of the Saints’ offense for the better part of three quarters against the Falcons, but Winston went off on back-to-back drives that changed the game in the fourth quarter. Winston was 11 of 12 for 156 yards with two touchdown passes to Michael Thomas during that stretch, capping his day with a final march that set up Wil Lutz’s game-winning field goal. They fortunately found a way against the Falcons, but it wasn't pretty. What happened to a defense that was supposed to be so dominant? They better get it going against Tampa Bay. 9. MIAMI DOLPHINS Want a sign of the times in the shifting AFC East? Is this a meaningful stat? Tua Tagovailoa is now 4-0 in his career against Bill Belichick. Miami has surpassed New England -- Buffalo is the new target. The Dolphins beat the Patriots and never were really threatened, thanks to the defense. Tua Tagovailoa was good, but the offense still only scored one touchdown. Tyreek Hill and Tua Tagovailoa displayed the chemistry teased during the summer, connecting eight times for 94 yards on 12 targets which might not be enough moving forward. Melvin Ingram and Co. held New England’s undercooked attack to just 271 yards and a single scoring drive.  10. PITTSBURGH STEELERS Coach Mike Tomlin has to be in the lead for Coach of the Year after his offense and defense were tested on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Steelers forced Joe Burrow into five turnovers, the front seven piled up six sacks and Chris Boswell’s long field goal secured an overtime win over the defending AFC champion Bengals. The defense came up big in the overtime victory over the Bengals. The loss of T.J. Watt is a damning blow to the defense, which will put more pressure on the offense.The offense under Mitch Trubisky was pedestrian, Najee Harris exited the game with a foot injury but will return this week and reigning Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt appears likely to miss at least several weeks which would be a blow to any team. That only leaves coaching to give the game ball to for this win. __________________Other teams that won and if they win back to back would possibly move up.  In no particular order: A. Seattle B. Cleveland C. NY GiantsD. Chicago BearsE. Washington Commanders 

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If You're Getting Your Handicapping From TV or Radio Hosts, Get Ready to Go Broke!

Tuesday, Sep 06, 2022

If caught my attention yesterday when a radio hosts sports wannabe handicapper was talking about how strong LSU’s late drinking fest in Baton Rouge was and the affect it would have on their game. He said the venue was an incredibly solid strong home venue.  NOTE: They we’re playing in New Orleans at the Superdome and Florida St won outright. So much for that information. Lol  An ESPN Handicapper was attempting to explain that if Buffalo went from -2 to -2.5 and -3 against the Rams that it indicated “sharp money”. Yes, that could be true. But he didn’t know. He had no idea. What if 80% of the tickets written on Buffalo were all from public money? That would have had the point spread going from -2 to -2.5 to -3. The exact same outcome as his “sharp money”  example. He wanted to be right but he had no clue.  There are counter tickets (public bets). There are betting apps (could be anyone). There’s the back room numbers where the actual dollars are added then sided and the numbers are adjusted. There’s a sector of huge offshore sports books where some of the biggest bets are made and are monitored by us. This is real informative. It follows the money. Not an ESPN opinion.  Another factor is the straight bets vs money line bets. The sports books don’t want to get sided so sometimes the lines move and other times they won’t change them if they’re in a favorable position.  Towards the end of the season, the point spread for that specific game must be calculated and measured against all the future bets the sports books have exposure.  In reality, the ESPN hosts that looks like he walked out of GQ is there for his look and speaking ability. Even if he’s played the game his opinions are slanted, taunted and not really his. The teleprompter queues the information entered and and loves to put in a “false narrative” that the Buffalo point spread is really moving. “Stay tuned after this word from Coors Beer, we’ll be right back.” And off to a commercial.  PS: You were part of their commercial; not for Vegas Inside Sharp Betting Information; but for SportsCenter much needed content.  If the information you demand is critical for your own pockets, come back to me all week long. 

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GRADING NFL STARTING QUARTERBACKS in the NFC

Tuesday, Aug 09, 2022

Last year's NFL quarterback carousel turned out some wild moves, including the unexpected trade that sent Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams.  The 2022 offseason has produced a fair share of drama, too. Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady retired. Brady then un-retired. Aaron Rodgers stayed in Green Bay, which was a mild surprise given last year's drama-filled offseason. Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan were all traded.  Free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft will dictate a few more switches. NFL EAST QUARTERBACKS DALLAS COWBOYS Who starts in 2022? Prescott signed an extension that runs through 2026. More pressure will be on third-year coach Mike McCarthy in 2022. Prescott is now 1-3 in postseason starts. The Cowboys’ offense starts and ends with Dak Prescott. We’ve seen what can happen when the talented quarterback is injured. Behind him are Ben DiNucci, Will Grier, and Cooper Rush. Like so many other teams, Dallas has to keep Prescott upright and healthy. Grade: B NEW YORK GIANTSWho starts in 2022? New general manager Joe Schoen and co-owner John Mara have backed Jones, who enters the final year of his rookie contract with a new head coach. Jones will start barring an unforeseen blockbuster trade. Daniel Jones’ leash is short and tight heading into 2022. Will Brian Daboll work Josh Allen magic with the former Duke star? A long shot. Tyrod Taylor is a veteran backup. Davis Webb has done nothing but linger and linger. Wonder if a USFL QB could find his way onto Big Blue’s roster as a backup… That’s how weak Webb is. Grade: D+ PHILADELPHIA EAGLESWho starts in 2022? Hurts will be the starter, and it would be wise to keep Gardner Minshew on as a reliable backup. Minshew played well in two starts while Hurts was dealing with an ankle injury. Jalen Hurts is one of the quarterbacks people are looking to thrive in Fantasy Football. The reality is Philly has done a lot to help the former Alabama/Oklahoma star and he needs to put up the numbers. Gardner Minshew probably deserves a spot to start somewhere else. Reid Sinnett and Carson Strong are also on the roster in Philadelphia. Grade: B WASHINGTON COMMANDERSWho starts in 2022? The Commanders will open the 2022 season with Carson Wentz under center after a bold offseason trade with the Colts. Washington sent a second- and third-round pick in 2022 and a third-round pick in 2023 in exchange for Wentz, who enters his seventh season. Carson Wentz has arrived and this is his third team without leading a team anywhere memorable. That Super Bowl in Philly was Nick Foles. Taylor Heinicke provided some thrills but is a nice backup, to be honest. Sam Howell comes off a lackluster last season at North Carolina and Cole Kelley is a 6-foot-7, 250-pound QB from Southeastern Louisiana who feels like he is heading toward tight end in D.C. Grade: D+ NFC WEST QUARTERBACKS ARIZONA CARDINALS Who starts in 2022? Murray will start and it is the final year of his rookie contract. Given the NFC wild card  flop against the Rams, it's a prove-it year for Murray and coach Kliff Kingsbury to see if they can take the next step together. Murray wants a long-term contract with the Cardinals. Kyler Murray is the quarterback—if he is happy and Arizona finds a way to make him satisfied with his contract. Easier said than done. Other names on the roster are Jarrett Guarantino, Colt McCoy, and Trace McSorley. Would seem Kliff Kingsbury would need to have Murray to have playoff hopes. Grade: C+ LOS ANGELES RAMSWho starts in 2022? Stafford, entering his 14th season, has one year left on his contract but he is a candidate for an extension. He will be the Rams' starter in 2022. The trade of the decade or this century as the Rams landed Matthew Stafford and earned Super Bowl rings. Behind Stafford are Bryce Perkins and John Wolford, which means hold your breath if the star gets injured. Grade: A- SAN FRANCISCO 49ersWho starts in 2022? The 49ers continue to gauge which teams are interested in Garoppolo, but that trade market has stalled a bit. If the 49ers roll with Lance, then Garoppolo could be stuck as a backup. Raise your passing hand if you are tired of the Jimmy Garoppolo or Trey Lance debate? Someone please step up and earn the job. Brock Purdy and Nate Sudfeld feel like players who will be around camps for many years. Grade: C- SEATTLE SEAHAWKS Who starts in 2022? The Seahawks traded Wilson after eight seasons, and they got Drew Lock from Denver in return. Lock might be the Week 1 starter, but this feels like a good opportunity to get Ole Miss' Matt Corral in the first round. You go from Russell Wilson to Geno Smith, Drew Lock, and Jason Eason and wonder what the grade will be? Grade: F NFC SOUTH QUARTERBACKS ATLANTA FALCONSWho starts in 2022? The Falcons traded Ryan to the Colts for a 2022 third-round pick on Monday, and that created the largest dead cap hit in NFL history. Atlanta signed veteran Marcus Mariota, who spent the last two seasons as a backup in Las Vegas. The Falcons also have the No. 8 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Arthur Smith will be expected to move the Falcons forward in his second year as coach. Not sure that is possible with Marcus Mariota. Desmond Ridder could be a future answer but not in 2022 unless Mariota is shelved due to injury, which has happened frequently in his career. Then there is Feleipe Franks, who played QB in college and has seen some time learning to play tight end. Grade: D CAROLINA PANTHERSWho starts in 2022? It's going to be Darnold unless the Panthers can find a willing trade partner. That won't be easy either. Darnold is due $18.8 million in 2022, and that is a huge cap hit. The Panthers missed out on Deshaun Watson, and they do have the No. 6 pick. Will Rhule use that to draft either Liberty's Malik Willis or Pitt's Kenny Pickett? Arthur Smith will be expected to move the Falcons forward in his second year as coach. Not sure that is possible with Marcus Mariota. Desmond Ridder could be a future answer but not in 2022 unless Mariota is shelved due to injury, which has happened frequently in his career. Then there is Feleipe Franks, who played QB in college and has seen some time learning to play tight end. Grade:  NEW ORLEANS SAINTSWho starts in 2022? Sean Payton dropped the first bombshell when he announced he will be taking a break from coaching. New Orleans is bringing back Winston on a two-year deal, and Hill is under contract for the next four seasons. Which quarterback will win the starting job? Jameis Winston will be the quarterback, apparently. Andy Dalton looks to be the backup along with Ian Book, who heads into his second year after a college career at Notre Dame. Taysom Hill is still listed as a QB but it feels as if the ship has sailed — sunk? — on him being the heir apparent to Drew Brees. Grade: C- TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS Who starts in 2022? Brady retired on Feb. 1, but then he reversed course and announced he is returning on March 13. That 40-day retirement didn't last long. Brady, who turns 45 in August, is back for at least one more season. Tom Brady returns after retiring for 40 days. The Bucs and Todd Bowles have to be thrilled. Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Griffin, and Kyle Trask are the players hoping age and injury don’t catch up to the GOAT in 2022. Grade: B+ NFC NORTH QUARTERBACKS CHICAGO BEARSWho starts in 2022? Fields is going to be the starter, and new coach Matt Eberflus needs to be creative in maximizing that talent. Foles is under contract for one more year. Dalton remains a free agent. Everyone was gushing over Justin Fields and then reality hit. The rookie year was less than mediocre but not all of it fell on the former Ohio State QB. Nathan Peterman falls smack in the journeyman category. Speaking of that, Trevor Siemian is another who is wandering around the NFL. Grade: D- DETROIT LIONSWho starts in 2022? SN's latest mock draft has the Lions taking Sam Howell with the No. 31 pick, which was acquired in that trade with the Rams. Goff's contract runs through 2024, however, and it's a massive cap hit. He will be the starter for second-year coach Dan Campbell. Jared Goff took the Rams to a Super Bowl, which they lost. He’s just OK and isn’t going to be the guy to lead the Lions for years and years to playoff success. David Blough and Tim Boyle just linger in Detroit, it seems. Dan Campbell got the team moving forward in his rookie season as coach. Trying to do it again and take huge steps with Goff will be a challenge. Grade: C- GREEN BAY PACKERSWho starts in 2022? Rodgers is back after signing an extension, but he lost his favorite target in Davante Adams. Jordan Love, the first-round pick in 2020, likely will be a trade chip ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft. Aaron Rodgers continues to be a one-team QB no matter the drama, controversy, or issues. He also is one of the best in the game. The key will be for Green Bay to find a way to succeed deep into the playoffs and get No. 12 another ring. Jordan Love remains behind him and that’s not comforting. Danny Etling is in Green Bay after multiple stops around the league. If Rodgers is out for any length of time, Matt LaFleur will not have another 13-win season. Grade: B+ MINNESOTA VIKINGSWho starts in 2022? Mike Zimmer is out, so the Vikings will have a new coach in 2022. There won't be a large market on Cousins via trade unless a franchise is desperate, so expect to see him in Week 1 for Minnesota. Kirk Cousins just gets large contract after large contract no matter the results. He has a new coach this year in Kevin O’Connell. Does anyone think it will make a huge difference? Didn’t think so. Sean Mannion, Kellen Mond, and Nate Stanley are behind the veteran. Grade: C-

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GRADING NFL STARTING QUARTERBACKS in the AFC

Tuesday, Aug 09, 2022

AFC NORTH QUARTERBACKS BALTIMORE RAVENS Who starts in 2022? The Ravens picked up the fifth-year option on Jackson, and the offseason talk will concern whether there is an extension before the season starts. Jackson will return, but 2023 could be interesting if the Ravens struggle to make the postseason and an extension has not been reached. The Ravens’ offense runs through and with Lamar Jackson. Tyler Huntley did a nice job when Jackson was out last year and is a solid backup. Brett Hundley just continues to find spots on rosters without menacing anyone for a starting job. It would be surprising if Anthony Brown, who played at Boston College and Oregon, manages to stick. Grade: B+ CINCINNATI BENGALS Who starts in 2022? Burrow proved he is a franchise quarterback, and the Bengals have the most cap space among playoff teams. Burrow has two years left on his rookie contract and a fifth-year option, so it's about maintaining what could be a Super Bowl contender for years to come. You have Joe Burrow, so what else do you need? All one has to do is remember the former LSU star’s rookie year to remember it takes one play for everything to go awry. Best hope and pray the Heisman winner stays healthy because Jake Browning and Brandon Allen wouldn’t lead teams to the postseason in the USFL. Grade: B CLEVELAND BROWNS Who starts in 2022? Cleveland traded for Deshaun Watson and picked up a hefty, five-year, $230 million contract. Watson still could be subject to a six game minimum multi-game suspension to start 2022, but he gives the Browns a proven playmaker at the most-important position. Baker Mayfield has been traded to Carolina. It doesn’t matter what happens with Deshaun Watson. The Browns lose all sorts of credibility for the acquisition amid scandal and then the contract to try and skirt the quarterback losing too much salary during a possible suspension. Jacoby Brissett and Joshua Dobbs are the backups. Brissett is serviceable, and had better be for Kevin Stefanski with what could be looming for Watson. Grade: D- PITTSBURGH STEELERS Who starts in 2022? As it stands, Wilson and Rodgers are out as the home-run swings. The Steelers signed Mitchell Trubisky on March 17, and he will compete with Mason Rudolph for the starting job. Pittsburgh also could draft a long-term option in the first round, but right now Trubisky could win that starting job in Week 1. It doesn’t matter what happens with Deshaun Watson. The Browns lose all sorts of credibility for the acquisition amid scandal and then the contract to try and skirt the quarterback losing too much salary during a possible suspension. Jacoby Brissett and Joshua Dobbs are the backups. Brissett is serviceable, and had better be for Kevin Stefanski with what could be looming for Watson. Grade: D- AFC SOUTH QUARTERBACKS  HOUSTON TEXANSWho starts in 2022? Houston hired Love Smith and traded Watson to Cleveland. Davis Mills is the starting quarterback as of now, but the Texans could be in the mix to draft a quarterback in the first round. It's a true rebuild with Watson finally gone. Given the chance to play as a rookie Davis Mills showed some talent. He delivered where many others could have crumbled. Kyle Allen, Jeff Driskel, and Kevin Hogan are also in the room. Lovie Smith must hope Mills continues to show growth or this team will go deeper in reverse, something that doesn’t seem plausible. Grade: D- INDIANAPOLIS COLTSWho starts in 2022? The Colts traded Wentz to Washington and filled the quarterback void with Matt Ryan, who has 107 TDs and 45 interceptions the last four seasons despite playing on losing teams. He solidifies the QB position on a loaded roster. The Colts’ decision to continue to hope and pray for aged quarterbacks to find one more season of magic turns to Matt Ryan. There seems to be more hope with the former Falcon than Carson Wentz or Philip Rivers. Jack Coan had his moments at Notre Dame but not sold on him as an NFL QB. Same with Sam Ehlinger. Then there is Nick Foles, who is always good to have around and can deliver wins … and big wins … if needed. He’s a solid backup to Ryan. Grade: C+ JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS Who starts in 2022? The Jaguars are still looking for an effective new coach. Lawrence has three years left on his rookie deal. Lawrence has franchise-QB talent. The right coach needs to cultivate that. Trevor Lawrence suffered through an unfair rookie season on a bad team and a worse coach in Urban Meyer. Doug Pederson should bring far more out of the former Clemson star. E.J. Perry, Jake Luton, and C.J. Beathard behind Lawrence are enough to give Pederson nightmares. This isn’t having Foles behind Wentz. Grade: C- TENNESSEE TITANS Who starts in 2022? Tannehill is going to be their starting quarterback in 2022. He has two years left on his contract. Perhaps Tennessee brings in a veteran backup for some competition just in case. The fuse is burning — and so probably is his temper — on Ryan Tannehill. He needs to deliver a deep, deep playoff run in 2022. Malik Willis is the future in waiting. Logan Woodside is just waiting for direct-deposit checks to continue landing in his bank account. Grade: C+  AFC EAST QUARTERBACKS  BUFFALO BILLSWho starts in 2022? Allen is locked up with a long-term contract in Buffalo that runs through 2028, and now the key for the Bills is to continue building a team around him that can win a Super Bowl. All Josh Allen has to do is stay healthy and he will be in the running for one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Matt Barkley is another backup who eats up years and dollars. And Case Keenum also has found his way to the Bills. This is definitely a room with experience and knowledge. Grade: A MIAMI DOLPHINS Who starts in 2022? The Dolphins hired Mike McDaniel, and despite almost two years of Watson rumors the Dolphins are sticking with Tagovailoa, who has two years left on his rookie contract. Miami also brought in veteran Teddy Bridgewater, who adds competition in training camp. Tua Tagovailoa does nothing to generate headlines but winds up in them over and over. That’s what happens when you are chosen as a franchise QB and it feels as if no one is sold on you … yet or maybe ever. He gets Tyreek Hill, which should help this year. Behind Tagovailoa are Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson. No one will be surprised if Bridgewater is asked to keep his arm warm early and often for the Fish. Grade: C NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS Who starts in 2022? Bill Belichick made the right call with Jones, who will be the starting quarterback in 2022. There’s no doubt about him starting but he is struggling with the new offensive coordinator. Bill Belichick appears to have found a solid quarterback in Mac Jones, who delivered as a rookie in one of the hottest spots in the NFL. The former Alabama star must continue to blossom. There will always be that huge shadow in Foxboro. Behind Jones are Brian Hoyer, who it seems will play forever and ever, and Baily Zappe, who put up enormous numbers in college at Western Kentucky. Would Belichick ever trade for Jimmy G and bring him back? The NFL isn’t Bowling Green, Ky. Grade: C+ NEW YORK JETS Who starts in 2022? Wilson will be the Week 1 starter, but last season proved it does not hurt to have a seasoned veteran backup in place. Mike White and Joe Flacco combined for four starts in 2021. The Jets signed Flacco to a one-year deal as on March 17. Way too early to say terrible things about Zach Wilson. Have to wait until the first quarter of 2022, at least, are over before getting nasty. Joe Flacco and Mike White were around in 2021 and still have a spot with Gang Green. Wilson is in the spotlight and this is a big-time season. Grade: C- AFC WEST QUARTERBACKS  DENVER BRONCOSWho starts in 2022? The Broncos hired Nathaniel Hackett and traded for Seattle's Russell Wilson, a major shakeup in the AFC West. Wilson enters his ninth season with a fresh start, and Denver gets a proven starting quarterback who has played in two Super Bowls. Talk about a gigantic improvement, the Broncos go from a merry-go-round of mediocrity to Russell Wilson. Behind the great Wilson are Brett Rypien and Josh Johnson, who remarkably keeps on finding homes anywhere and everywhere. Wilson is the key and Nathaniel Hackett knows he can not miss any time. Grade: B+ LAS VEGAS RAIDERSWho starts in 2022? This is a case where Raiders owner Mark Davis is going to stay loyal to the quarterback who got Las Vegas to the playoffs. Carr has one year remaining on his contract, and the Raiders pulled off a blockbuster trade that brings in his college teammate Davante Adams. This is a no-excuse year for Carr. Derek Carr gets much better with the addition of his college teammate Davante Adams. That’s is a nice pair of hands to add to a quarterback who can find players all over the field. No more Marcus Mariota as the backup so that leaves the other seats in the room to Chase Garbers, Nick Mullens and Jarrett Stidham, who once was going to replace Tom Brady in New England. Grade: B- LOS ANGELES CHARGERS Who starts in 2022? Herbert will start, and the pressure to make the playoffs is there after the Week 18 miss against the Raiders. Herbert is 15-17 as a starter. Justin Herbert is one of the stars of the present and future in the NFL. Now if he can get the rest of the Bolts to light things up in 2022 there is reason to dream. Chase Daniel deserves a 30-for-30 on how to succeed financially in the NFL without really playing. Brandon Peters and Easton Stick won’t make defensive coordinators lose sleep. Grade: B- KANSAS CITY CHIEFSWho starts in 2022? Mahomes' contract runs through 2031. How much of that will be paired with Andy Reid? The rest of the NFL can't like the answer. Patrick Mahomes is generational. It is nice to have Chad Henne behind the great Mahomes in case something goes wrong. It doesn’t guarantee wins but it gives you somewhat of a chance. Shane Buechele and Dustin Crum feel like camp arms no matter how young they are. Grade: A

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Thinking “Out of the Box” to Make MAXIMUM MONEY Betting the NFL

Monday, Aug 08, 2022

I bring up this subject starting with an example going back to the Peyton Manning led Super Bowl Championship. I thought that if the Broncos won, it most likely would have nothing to do with Manning. He was old, worn down and could barely throw 15 yards accurately. Additionally, there was no profit outside of betting a normal wager on Denver. So after considerable analysis, I determined that if Denver were to win, it would come down to defense. So I bet Von Miller to win the MVP award at 16-1. BINGO! HUGE PAYDAY.  Today I have a similar thought process. Whether you believe in betting NFL futures or not is a personal choice. But this still shows THE THINKING of a 37 year professional handicapper that’s still out-smarting the Vegas oddsmakers each year. Whether it’s my top weekly play or my “must win” prime time games, the brain and thinking keeps churning.  Let’s move our future bet discussion to the Las Vegas Raiders. I think Josh McDaniels will be in a position to win the NFL Coach of the Year at 16/1odds. Throw $200 to win $3200.  This is one of the few wagers that “close” to winning the Super Bowl pays off…(16/1). Here’s his competition and reasons this is a quality wager.  Tampa Bay is expected to win and if they do, Tom Brady gets most of that credit; not the coach.  Kansas City is the top draw in terms of winning it all so a team that actually does, the coach is not a lock for the title.  Note: Many teams that have to fight every week as underdogs( like the Raiders) end up with their coach accumulating the votes.  Buffalo’s coach is probably the Raiders biggest threat having not won in years. But the 16/1 reward overcomes the risk.  Green Bay and Dallas winning probably would not produce a Coach of the Year candidate.  The LA Rams are the defending Super Bowl Champions. If, and that’s a huge “if”, the Rams repeat as World Champions, that would be a huge accomplishment, and clearly open the door for Coach of the Year honors. It doesn’t hurt that the Rams also play in the very difficult NFC West.  The Las Vegas Raiders have a strong fan base at home…AND on the road. They’re able to beat Kansas City, LA Chargers and Denver Broncos. I’ll wager that at least one of those teams are defeated on the road this year opening up the season series sweep. Josh McDaniels should have enough “Belichick” experience in him to have a formidable season. At 16/1and NOT having to win the Super Bowl is worth a look and comes with that potential BIG PAYDAY.

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