The Anaheim Ducks will travel to the United Center in Chicago, Illinois to face the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday, March 29th at 8:30 PM ET in a showdown between the two best teams in the Western Conference. Currently, the Chicago Blackhawks lead the Anaheim Ducks in the standings by five points and will be looking to avenge a March 20th loss to the Ducks in Anaheim. A win on Friday night will give the Blackhawks a great shot at winning the Western Conference as there are just 15 games remaining on the schedule.
NHL odds makers have set the Chicago Blackhawks as -152 home favorites while the Anaheim Ducks are +138 underdogs. The total is set at 5.5 goals with the under being juiced at -126 and the over sitting at +114 odds.
In their most recent game, the Anaheim Ducks lost to the San Jose Sharks 4-0. The loss to San Jose was Anaheim’s fourth in a row. A lack of scoring has helped lead to this mini slump for the Ducks as Anaheim has scored just five goals in their last four games. During the loss to San Jose, Jonas Hiller was not particularly sharp, stopping just 25-of-29 shots. Anaheim put 22 shots on net, but Sharks goalie Antti Niemi stopped them all.
While the lack of scoring is cause for concern for the Ducks, the team should panic just yet. Anaheim is still fifth in the league in goals per game and fourth overall on the power play. Every team in the league has gone through some type of scoring drought this year, and it appears it is just Anaheim’s turn to go through theirs.
The Chicago Blackhawks are coming off a 2-0 victory over the Calgary Flames to stop their own two game losing streak. During the game against the Flames, goalie Ray Emery stopped all 16 shots he faced to earn his 12th victory of the season. Defensemen Brent Seabrook and Nick Leddy scored for the Blackhawks who put 35 shots on net against Calgary.
With both teams ranked in the top five in goals scored per game, Friday night’s contest should be a high scoring affair. The Ducks should bring their best effort against the Blackhawks as this is a measuring stick type game to gauge where they are at heading into the playoffs. Also, if Anaheim or Chicago notice their team is lacking a certain element on Friday night against another quality opponent, they could opt to turn to the trade market to see if they can improve their team before the April 3rd trade deadline.
Sure the New England Patriots were 13-3, but as the old adage goes: there are lies, damn lies and statistics. And in this case, that 13-3 record is lying, big time.
If you take a look around the NFL at the end of the season, there were 10 teams of any significance this year. They were, in no particular order: Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans and the New England Patriots.
So let’s take a look at who the Patriots really beat, or beat up on this year. Of those teams listed above, who did they play? The Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Giants. That’s it, just two teams of any significance in this past 2011-12 NFL season. And how did the Patriots do in those two games you might ask? They lost, both!!
So they were 13-1 against the dregs of the NFL, and 0-2 against teams that matter. Hmm, so what does that tell us? The Patriots are not nearly as good as the Las Vegas sportsbook have them made out to be, as why else are the Patriots 3-point favorites??
And look what they’ve done in the playoffs. They hammered a Denver team that is led by a great story in Tim Tebow, but not a very good quarterback. Yes, he’s had success, but that will be short-lived. A story for another day. Then the Patriots edged out the Baltimore Ravens, but that was more the Ravens beating themselves than New England winning. Missed play calls, a dropped winning touchdown and a missed tying field goal were key components of that win.
So now the Patriots move on to Superbowl XLVI in Indianapolis, Sunday, February 5th, starting at 6:30pm ET. They are a good team, with one of the best coaches of all time and one of the best quarterbacks of all time. But that and the schedule is what has made the Patriots this year. They have a very good offensive line, very average running game, a stud of a tight end in Rob Gronkowski, and a great inside receiver in Wes Welker.
On the defensive side, they have the worst pass defence in the NFL this season. They are pretty good against the run, but the New York Giants throw the ball, not run it. Unlike the Broncos and Ravens whose strengths were running the ball, the Giants present a lot of matchup problems for the Patriots, on both sides of the ball.
Brady will struggle at times to deal with the NFL’s best defensive line, especially when they can pass rush. And Eli Manning will be able to throw the ball down the field with impunity, with his two big play receivers, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. And don’t forget the Giants have a very good 3rd receiver in Mario Manningham.
Bottom line is that the game should be close early on, but the ongoing pressure of the Giants front four will slowly get to Brady, and the ongoing deep threats and crossing patterns of the Giants receivers will make for a very long day for New England.
Our Superbowl Handicapping:
New York Giants 31
New England Patriots 24
In NFL Playoff action this weekend, there is the potential for a couple of major blowouts in the AFC Divisional Playoffs.
First off, the Baltimore Ravens (12-4) host the Houston Texans (10-6) in a game (Sunday January 15, 1:00 PM ET TV by CBS) that on paper looks like a rout. The Texans bring their rookie quarterback, T.J. Yates into the Ravens’ den and it looks like they will be picked apart.
The New England Patriots (13-3) host Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos (Saturday, January 14, 8:00 PM ET TV by CBS) in another game that looks like a huge blowout. The Patriots defense is far from stellar; in fact they rank 31st in the NFL. Don’t be surprised if Tebow has another 300-plus yard performance in his second NFL playoff.
The Patriots opened up as a 13.5 point favorite and the number is getting play on both sides with only 57% of the money coming down on the Pats. The Ravens must cover 7.5 on the Pointspread over the Texans and the money is flooding in on the Ravens with 69% of the bettors giving the points.
The Totals on both games are showing some interesting movements. New England is going to score points and the Broncos have potential to score against a weak Pats defense. The Total is 51 points and the money is almost even with 55% coming in on the Over. The Ravens/Texans game is a low Total at 38 points. The money is overwhelmingly on the Under with 81% of the bettors hammering the Under.
Denver is a huge Moneyline dog at +605 and the Pats are the prohibitive favorite at -805 for good reason. If this game becomes a track meet anything can happen though. Denver is getting the lion’s share of the bets with 81% of the money coming in on Tebow and the Broncos.
The Ravens are also a huge negative number on the Moneyline at -350. The Texans are a +290 dog with the money coming in on the Texans with wishful thinkers betting the Texans at 62%.
The Arizona Cardinals will head to Minnesota to take on the Vikings this weekend. These two teams are both struggling and could use a win to pick up the spirits of the organization. The Cardinals have managed a 3-4 record on the season. While that record is not great, it still beats out the Vikings who sit at 2-5 on the season.
The Vikings shocked the sports world this weekend by making a roster change at wide receiver. After sending out a 3rd round draft pick in order to pick up Randy Moss the team decided to release him. His release came in response to comments that he made to the media that upset the organization. With his release the team will be without a legitimate deep threat until Sidney Rice is healthy and ready to take on a lead role for the team.
The Cardinals are in a quarterback shuffle at this point in the season. Neither Hall nor Anderson has really put up stellar numbers in their opportunities to play and the Cardinals are probably regretting their decision to cut Matt Leinart at the beginning of the season.
The Cardinals have lost four of their last five games overall and have not fared well against Minnesota. The Vikings have won 7 of the last 9 games between the two teams and will be playing at home. Home is where the Vikings generally play best, having won 11 of their last 12 games while playing in Minnesota.
In NCAA Football Odds the over/under total has not yet been set.
In four of the past five meetings between these conference rivals, the total has gone under.
Oregon, its last match at home against Pac-10 conference its last match at home against Pac-10 conference, rival the UCLA Bruins last Thursday. As favorites, they covered the 26.5-point spread, while the total score went over the over/under total.
The Trojans, in their last game Saturday, beat up state and conference rival California Golden Bears 48-14. The total score of 62 sent over bettors to the payout window, while they covered the 2-point spread as favorites.
Oregon has won seven straight games and it has 7-0 SU and 4-2 ATS. 5-2 SU and 3-4 ATS is of the Southern Cal.
Oregon is 9-1 SU this season, while Southern Cal is 5-5 SU, in Pac-10 conference play.
Oregon, in its last five games overall is 5-0 SU and 6-1 SU in its last seven games on the road. Southern Cal, in its last 21 games at home is 18-3 SU, and 19-6 SU in its last 25 games overall.
It may have taken both the Atlanta Braves and San Francisco Giants until the very last day of the season to secure a playoff berth, but both teams can now breathe a small sigh of relief knowing that they will be a part of the 2010 MLB playoffs. With Atlanta winning the Wild Card berth, the Braves will travel to San Francisco to open the best of 5 NLDS beginning on Thursday, October 7th.
The season’s head to head matchup was won by the Atlanta Braves 4 games to 3 with 3 of their victories coming at home. Home field advantage should play a pretty big role in this series as San Francisco sports a 49-32 record at their home ball park, while Atlanta has just a 35-46 road record for the season. Compare that to the Braves’ 56-25 home record and the Braves will probably end up regretting losing the division crown the Philadelphia Phillies.
San Francisco also has a slight edge entering this series with the way they have been playing recently. Fighting for their playoff lives every night the last few weeks have forced the Giants to stay sharp and be on top of their game. The Giants enter this series having won 7 of their last 10 games, while the Braves are an even 5 and 5 in their last 10.
The pitching matchup also appears to favor the Giants in this NLDS series. The first 3 games’ scheduled starters are as follows:
If San Francisco can win the first two games at home behind their two best pitchers, they should have no problem closing out the Braves for the series win.
The Miami Heat will be battling the Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome on Sunday, September 19. The Vikings are just coming off of a loss to the New Orleans saints and are looking for a come-back game while Miami is coming off of a win.
Miami is known to be a pretty good team against the run, but have struggled against teams that can pass. Brett Favre didn’t have the most impressive showing last week against the Saints, but given another week to get back into rhythm, he is likely to come out slinging. Even without Sidney Rice in the rotation because of injury, Favre is an experienced quarterback to know how to adapt.
The Dolphins offense were pretty mediocre against the Bills and even though they won, they struggled against the Bills defense. The Dolphins are using the Wildcat offense but Chad Henne might be better used as a pocket passer hitting targets like Brandon Marshall. Until there are changes made in the Miami offense, it looks like the Vikings have a clear advantage.
Minnesota has been playing well at home over the past couple of seasons, however, and boast a 5-0 record in their last five games in the Metrodome, so look for the game to go in their favor. They have too strong a team to fall short to a mediocre offense and a defense that can’t stop an elite quarterback.
The current odds for the matchup have Minnesota s a 6 point favorite and the over/under total for the game is at 39.