During the 2014 season, football was pretty forgettable for New York teams as the Jets and Giants combined for just ten wins. The Giants opted to keep its coaching staff in place while the Jets relieved Rex Ryan and his staff of its duties.  With Coughlin at the helm, Giants fans will always have Super Bowl aspirations while Jets fans will rely on a new coach to win its second Super Bowl in franchise history. Former Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator, Todd Bowles, will look to take the Jets back to the playoffs during the 2015 season. A first review of 2015 win totals, however, are not encouraging for either team. According to oddsmaker’s early 2015 win totals, the Giants are projected to win eight games while the Jets’ total is set at 6.5 wins. Learn more about NFL Football Odds where the over/under is one of the simplest bets of all.

Despite a pedestrian win total, fans are ready to cheer on a Giants team that has not made the playoffs since its last Super Bowl win (2011). Despite its playoff draught, New York found a new playmaker last season when Odell Beckham Jr. stepped up after Victor Cruz suffered a season-ending injury. Beckham Jr. will lead a talented bunch of playmakers that want to restore New York’s winning tradition. New York has four Super Bowl titles, including two recent Super Bowl wins in 2007 and 2011.

By virtue of a new head coach, general manager, and a strong draft class, the New York Jets look primed to compete in the AFC East. New York also signed several notable free agents, namely Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Despite these additions, New York has not had much recent success. New York has not won a Super Bowl since 1968 when Joe Namath guaranteed victory over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. New York has made 13 playoff appearances and won four division titles since its last Super Bowl title. New York is still seeking its first AFC Championship after falling short in 2010 and 2011. The race for the AFC East title should be very competitive this season. Tom Brady has been suspended for four games, which creates some opportunity for his AFC East foes. Even though the Jets won’t play New England during Brady’s suspension, one or two early losses by New England may shape the AFC East race.  

New York is accustomed to cheering on winning teams. The Giants have a strong, winning tradition while the Jets were close to Super Bowl berths during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Both teams haven’t had success in recent years, but one strong season can turn the tide. Fans will fill MetLife Stadium each week to cheer their teams on as each team looks to return to the playoffs. A lack of star power isn’t an issue for either team. Executing and out-gaming its opponents each Sunday will be the difference between playing football and watching football come January and February.  Despite lackluster win totals, expect strong efforts from both the Jets and Giants during the 2015 NFL season!

New York Giants struggled last year and missed out on the playoffs after finishing the regular season with a disappointing 6-10 record. Big Blue were extremely unlucky with injuries – losing star wide receiver Victor Cruz and starting cornerback Prince Amukamara early in the campaign – and who knows where they would have finished with a healthy squad.

Many have argued that the Giants were the best team to finish with a losing record, and they will be looking to draft well and reach the postseason this time around. We take a look at Tom Coughlin’s Giants side and discuss their chances of winning the NFC East this year.

NYG

 

The return of Victor Cruz is huge

Cruz will be entering his fifth season in the NFL and will be raring to go after spending the majority of last season on the sidelines. The undrafted wide receiver, who spent his college days at Massachusetts, should free up the phenomenal Odell Beckham Jr on the opposite side of the pitch and the two are likely to provide Eli Manning with a deadly attacking threat.

The Giants drafted Beckham Jr in the first round last year, but he missed the first six matches of the season after picking up an injury in preseason. He finished an impressive rookie campaign with 91 receptions for a staggering 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns in as many matches. Beckham also produced arguably the greatest catch ever against the Dallas Cowboys, which prompted him to receive vast media attention and helped him to announce his arrival to the NFL.

They must strengthen at running back

Although these two wide receivers give Eli Manning viable ‘down the field’ options, they will still need a strong running game if they are to reach the playoffs. The Giants lost David Wilson – who was forced to retire after sustaining a serious neck injury – and Rashad Jennings continues to blow hot and cold.

They did acquire former New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen in the offseason, but they still require an ‘every down’ power back that can help take the pressure off Eli Manning. The Giants are fairly solid defensively, but are likely to strengthen in the upcoming NFL draft. They may instead opt to focus primarily on a new running back and reinforcements for the offensive line.

Verdict

The Giants have a genuine chance of winning the NFC East this year if they bolster their defensive unit and the offensive stars stay healthy. The remaining teams in the division – Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins – have arguably got ‘weaker’ in free agency, and the Giants will be looking to win as many divisional contests as they can in order to ensure that they reach the playoffs this campaign. If you would like to place a bet on the Giants winning the NFC East this year, or just on the NFL in general, Betfair are currently offering 40/1 on Big Blue to be crowned Super Bowl champions. Their supporters certainly think that they will, at least, win their division this year.

Some sports books have released MLB win totals. Over the next few days, we’ll analyze the win totals by division and comments where we see some value. Today, we’ll focus on the National League Central:

The odds-makers are expecting St. Louis’s division dominance to continue. St. Louis traded for Jason Heyward to bolster its outfield. Adam Wainwright may miss Opening Day, but St. Louis has the talent and depth behind him. Many are expecting Chicago to take a big step forward this season, so Chicago is the team to watch in this division.

St. Louis

There’s not much to say about the Cardinals. They’ve been to the NLCS in three straight seasons. They got younger by adding Heyward to an already stocked line-up. Lance Lynn, John Lackey, and Michael Wacha will need to step-up if Wainwright misses significant time. 

Pittsburgh

The Pirates didn’t make many moves, but lost Russell Martin to the Toronto Blue Jays. The odds-makers are projecting a slight win reduction. Despite some recent success, Pittsburgh hasn’t been able to get over the hump in the playoffs. Fans are hoping Starling Marte can take another step forward in 2015.

Chicago

Chicago signed Jon Lester and added Joe Maddon to manage the team. Are these additions worth 10+ wins? 

Milwaukee

Milwaukee is an interesting team. Adam Lind was added to give the line-up more left-handed power. Milwaukee opted to trade away Yovani Gallardo a year before his free agency. Milwaukee also collapsed during September as St. Louis and Pittsburgh passed them.

Cincinnati

Joey Votto  will return and will be the key to Cincinnati’s offense. When healthy, Votto is an MVP candidate. Ace Johnny Cueto will need to have another big season to keep Cincinnati in playoff contention.

Observations:

  • I’m not buying the optimism for Chicago. Chicago has some really good young bats, but will Lester replace (and surpass) the production posted by Sarmardijza? I think Chicago is a year away and don’t expect him to challenge St. Louis, Pittsburgh, or even Milwaukee

Best Bet:

  • Cubs Under 82.5 Wins

Some sports books have released MLB win totals. Over the next few days, we’ll analyze the win totals by division and comments where we see some value. Today, we’ll focus on the National League East:

The odds-makers believe that Washington will run away with the National League East title. After adding Max Scherzer to an already loaded rotation, it’s hard not to envision Washington not only winning the NL East, but winning the National League itself. 

Washington

As mentioned above, Washington is easily the best team in the National League. Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg can match-up against any team. Washington’s offense, which is led by Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper, is very solid. The rest of the NL East isn’t in Washington’s class.

New York

Hopes are very high for the Mets. Matt Harvey will return, Michael Cuddyer was signed to provide veteran leadership, and David Wright is 100% healthy after a pesky shoulder injury limited him last season. It’s been a very long-time since the Yankees and Mets were projected to win the same amount of games. The Mets have a golden opportunity to be the toast of the town.

Miami

Miami made Giancarlo Stanton its $325 million man, but its other moves have gone surprisingly unnoticed. Miami traded for Martin Prado and Mat Latos while inking Michael Morse in free agency. Its ace, Jose Fernandez, will be out until mid-June. 

Atlanta

With the exception of Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta lost nearly all of its talented players. Justin Upton and Jason Heyward were traded away while Aaron Harang and Ervin Santana, who threw nearly 400 innings, left via free agency. Julio Teheran and Alex Wood will be expected to lead this rotation.

Philadelphia

The Phillies are years away from competing. The Phillies may trade away Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee,  which would push Philadelphia deeper into its rebuilding process.

Observations:

  • Despite adding Scherzer, the odds-makers are projecting Washington to win fewer games. The odds-makers are still bullish on Miami even without the presence of Fernandez. None of these lines offer a lot of value, but I would bet on our hometown, New York Mets. The Mets may not make the playoffs, but winning 82-85 games would be a huge improvement and a building block for next season.

Best Bet:

  • Mets Over 81.5 Wins

Some sports books have released MLB win totals. Over the next few days, we’ll analyze the win totals by division and comments where we see some value. Today, we’ll focus on the American League West:

The odds-makers believe that Los Angeles will repeat as AL West champions, but Seattle is not far behind. Oakland traded away five of its seven All-Stars and lost the American League Wildcard game. Texas was completely derailed by injuries last season while Houston is building towards the future. 

Los Angeles

Los Angeles won 97 games last season, so the odds-makers are expecting a nine-win reduction. That win reduction can be attributed to its starting rotation. Jered Weaver struggled last season while CJ Wilson had the worst season of his career. Matt Shoemaker had a great rookie season, but can he repeat it as a 28-year-old, second-year player? Add in the Josh Hamilton drama and there are a lot of question marks surrounding this team.

Seattle

Seattle won 87 games last season, so the odds-makers are expecting a similar result. Robinson Cano was a welcomed addition and Felix Hernandez had the best season of his career. The key to getting to the next level will be the maturation of James Paxton and Taijuan Walker. 

Oakland

Oakland always finds a way to compete, so some way see some value after winning 88 games last season. Still, Oakland is betting on Brett Lawrie to replace the production of Josh Donaldson. Jon Lester and Jeff Sarmardizja are also gone. Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar are experienced players that should help keep Oakland competitive.

Texas

Odds-makers are expecting a big bounce back campaign by Texas. Texas won just 67 games last season, so an 11-win jump seems lofty. Texas is hoping to get full seasons from Prince Fielder, Shin Soo Choo, Mitch Moreland, and Yu Darvish. Texas also traded for Yovani Gallardo to bolster its rotation.

Houston

Houston traded for Evan Gattis to bolster its line-up, but lacks the starting pitching to compete. 

Observations:

The odds-makers are expecting a lot of change in this division. Texas and Houston are projected to win 11 and 5 more games, respectively while Los Angeles and Oakland are expected to regress.

Best Bets:

  • Angels Under 88.5 Wins
  • Astros Under 75.5 Wins

Some sports books have released MLB win totals. Over the next few days, we’ll analyze the win totals by division and comments where we see some value. Today, we’ll focus on the American League Central:

The odds-makers believe that the Cleveland Indians and the Detroit Tigers will compete for the AL Central Crown. These two teams, however, have starkly different compositions. Detroit features three top pitchers atop its rotation while Cleveland has the reigning Cy Young award winner, Cory Kluber.

Detroit

Fans are hoping that Justin Verlander is healthy after two injuries derailed his 2015 campaign. David Price and Anibal Sanchez will help take some of the pressure off Verlander, but as the staff ace, Detroit needs Verlander to return to his dominant ways. Detroit also got younger by trading for Yoenis Cespedes to replace Torii Hunter.

Cleveland

Terry Francona has restored order to the Indians. Kluber is arguably the best pitcher in the American League while outfielder Michael Brantley broke out last season. Cleveland does not have much depth behind Kluber, but its offense is stocked with power bats.

Chicago

Chicago re-tooled its roster by trading for Jeff Samardjiza and signing David Robertson, Adam LaRoche, and Melky Cabrera in free agency. Sale was injured last week and is expected to miss the first few weeks, so Samaradjiza and Jose Quintana will be expected to carry the rotation. 

Kansas City

Despite winning the American League last season, the odds-makers are not expecting much from Kansas City. James Shields left for San Diego and Kansas City’s offense does not present many great hitters. 

Minnesota

Minnesota has one of the best minor league systems, but that system isn’t expected to produce any players in 2015. 

Observations:

  • I think there are a few plays here. I was pretty bullish on the White Sox, but the injury to Sale is concerning. Plus, this team has been very inconsistent under manager, Robin Ventura. I don’t think Kansas City will be nearly as good after losing Shields. Detroit is still the class of this division and I don’t think Cleveland has the horses to stick with Detroit. I’m not a believer in Brantley, either.

Best Bets:

  • Tigers Over 84.5 Wins
  • Royals Under 81.5 Wins

Some sports books have released MLB win totals. Over the next few days, we’ll analyze the win totals by division and comments where we see some value. Today, we’ll focus on the American League East:

After adding Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, the odds-makers believe that the Boston Red Sox are American League East favorites. Boston, however, does not have a bonafide Ace atop its rotation. Boston was unable to re-sign starting pitcher (and fan favorite), Jon Lester. Boston has been discussing a trade for Cole Hamels, but it doesn’t look like it will happen before the season. The American League East features some great hitters, so Boston will need the starting pitchers to compete.

Toronto also added some more offensive firepower by signing Russell Martin and trading for Josh Donaldson. Toronto’s offense features a lot of right-handed power hitters, but alike Boston, does not have depth in its starting rotation. R.A. Dickey will be asked to lead this rotation, but Toronto has the uncanny ability to under-perform annually.

The Baltimore Orioles won the AL East last season, but the odds-makers aren’t expecting a second straight title. Nelson Cruz, who hit 41 home runs last season, signed with the Seattle Mariners. Baltimore is hoping Chris Davis can bounce back, but he’s an unknown entering the 2015 season. Baltimore also lacks rotation depth.

The New York Yankees are projected to finish fourth. The Yankees have gotten younger and are expecting bounce back campaigns from Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, and Ivan Nova. Chase Headley re-signed and the Yankees traded for shortstop, Didi Gregorious. Fans are also expecting respectable seasons from A-Rod and Mark Teixeira

Tampa Bay is expected to take a step-back after manager Joe Maddon left and Ben Zobrist, Yunel Escobar, and David Price were traded away. Tampa Bay is expecting its younger players to step-up and fill the void.

Observations:

  • I don’t think there’s a ton of value in any of these totals. I think the Yankees are better than the Blue Jays and Orioles, so I would want to bet Yankees (OVER). I think Tampa Bay is in for a rude awakening and should falter in a tight race for the AL East crowd. I’d bet Tampa Bay (UNDER).

Best Bets:

Yankees Over 81.5 Wins

Rays Under 78.5 Wins

Entering the 2015 season, expectations are high for the New York Mets. Ace Matt Harvey will return after having Tommy John surgery. Harvey’s presence will be a welcome addition to a team that won 79 games last season. Harvey will join a rotation that features Rookie of the Year, Jacob deGromm, Zach Wheeler, and Bartolo Colon. Harvey was masterful during the 2013 season by striking out 191 hitters over 178 innings while posting an impressive 2.27 ERA. deGromm stepped up in Harvey absence by posting a 2.69 ERA over 140 innings. Run support has been an issue and has limited win totals for its starting pitchers. New York added outfielder Michael Cuddyer and will hope for a bounce back campaign from David Wright. Cuddyer rejected a $15 million qualifying offer from Colorado in order to join New York on a two-year deal. Cuddyer only appeared in 49 games last season as he dealt with injuries, but the 36-year-old outfielder should provide leadership  to a younger lineup. Wright posted career lows last season as he dealt with an ailing shoulder injury. Wright’s home run total (8) and on-base percentage (.324) were career lows. 

Entering the 2015 season, the Washington Nationals are clear favorites in the National League East. Still, New York has the young talent to compete for a Wildcard spot. New York’s National League East foes are also expected to have down seasons. Atlanta is building for the future while Miami is dealing with a few injuries. The opportunities will be there for the Mets to compete in the 2015. 

If there’s one issue that’s blighting the worldwide sports community, it has to be match fixing. The practice has, admittedly, been around for centuries, but with the massive growth in sports across the world, the huge numbers of people that enjoy the sport and the hefty sums of money that teams, leagues and investors pump in to sports, today more than ever the practice is most destructive. There is one industry that could benefit from the recent troubles though; the casino industry. How exactly could match fixing scandals help the gambling business though?

Across the world match fixing is a big problem. It’s continually cropping up in international soccer leagues and tournaments. Organised crime elements are being seen behind the facade. Even online video game leagues are being infiltrated at the highest levels by unscrupulous elements. International experts say it needs to stop, the public wants it to stop, and yet the scandals continue.

Now you might think that all of these terrible goings on would spell doom for the gambling industry; betting on sports is big business in countries where it is legalised, after all. In the UK, Japan and a host of European countries, putting a little cash on your favourite team is the norm, and indeed match fixing could put people off betting all together- where’s the element of chance? In countries like America though, the lack of sports betting isn’t really a problem and if anything, the number of illegal backroom wagers might fall as a result of match fixing scandals.

What the scandals might do, however, is force those wanting excitement (from all across the world) into the arms of the gambling industry. If you’re not able to eke excitement from watching your favourite team anymore, you’re going to go elsewhere for your fun!

Online gaming houses are likely to gain most from any potential exodus from either sports or sports betting scenes. A fair amount of wagering is done via smartphone these days, do it’s likely that individuals will end up logging in to www.rubyfortune.com or some other similar site, as supposed to heading to their nearest casino, to get their excitement fix. Who knows, we might even see already huge pro-gambling sports such as poker growing into fully fledged spectator sports as a result!

Of course, the sports world isn’t going to collapse as a result of a few match fixing scandals, but in the meantime the casino industry could make a pretty penny from disenfranchised, angry fans, perhaps even retaining them for years to come.

The table below compares two quarterbacks from the 2014 NFL draft class. Statistics were sourced from their 2013-2014 college seasons. 

Player QB A QB B
Draft Year 2014 2014
Height 6’1″ 5’11”
Weight 206 207
Hand Size 9.25 9.75
40-Yard Dash 4.66 4.68
3-Cone Drill 7.07 6.75
Short Shuttle 4.33 4.03
Broad Jump 116 113
Vertical Jump 34 31.5
Adjusted Yards/Attempt 10.1 (3rd highest) 10.0 (4th)
Completion % 63% 70%
INT/Attempt 0.35% 3.03%
College Regression? No Yes
Wonderlic 23 32

Athletic Profile

Quarterback A is a more explosive player, producing higher broad and vertical jump marks while benefiting from better straight line speed. Quarterback B is more elusive, posting 3-Cone and Short Shuttle marks that rival some of the more highly touted running backs in the 2014 NFL Draft. 

Passing Skills

Quarterback A has a slightly higher AY/A, which measures adjusted yards gained per pass attempt while Quarterback B posted a better completion percentage. Quarterback A was much better at limiting turnovers than Quarterback B was. Quarterback A threw just one interception in 284 pass attempts while Quarterback B threw 13 interceptions in 429 pass attempts. 

Other

Other factors, such as breakout age, college regression, hand size, and Wonderlic scores were considered. There has been a ton of analysis completed on QB-hand size relative to NFL success, so Quarterback B has a natural advantage. Quarterback B also scored higher on the Wonderlic test. 

Quarterback A’s last college season was his best season, by measure of his passer rating, while Quarterback B slightly regressed during his final college season. This may be one of the most telling signs yet as the nearly all current NFL starting quarterbacks had their best collegiate season during their final college season. 

So Who is Quarterback A and Quarterback B?

Both quarterbacks are members of the Cleveland Browns.

During 2014, quarterback Brian Hoyer started 13 games for Cleveland as Manziel and Shaw worked as his understudies. Both rookie quarterbacks had opportunities to start, but the results were less than inspiring.

Johnny Manziel

Manziel started in Weeks 15 and 16, but failed to produce. During Week 15, Manziel was completely shut down as the Cincinnati Bengals embarassed Cleveland, 30-0. Manziel completed 10-of-18 passes for 80 yards and two interceptions. He averaged 4.4 yards per pass attempt and posted a dismal a QBR of 1.0. Both of Manziel’s interceptions were thrown into double coverage. Manziel faced Carolina in Week 16 and left with an injury. He was placed onto season-ending Injured Reserve. He completed just 3-of-8 passes for 28 yards against Carolina, averaging 4.0 yards per pass attempt.

In fairness, Manziel’s first two starts were late in the season against two teams that eventually secured playoff berths. 

Connor Shaw

After spending 16 weeks as a member of the practice squad, Shaw was called up to the 53-man active roster after Manziel was placed on Injured Reserve. Shaw’s Week 17 opponent? A meeting in Baltimore against a Ravens team vying for a playoff spot. Shaw turned in a respectable performance, completing 14-0f-28 passes for 177 yards and one interception. Baltimore scored 17 unanswered fourth quarter points to rally and beat Cleveland, 20-10. Shaw kept his team in the game, something that Manziel was unable to do.

Observations

Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s game plan was pretty conservative for both quarterbacks. The game plan called for a lot of short throws in an effort to develop rhythm. Simply put, Manziel looked really, really bad and some of his mistakes from his last year at Texas A&M resurfaced in Cleveland. Manziel had trouble looking off defenders and his tendencies to wildly throw jump balls into double coverage continued. Instead of having 6’5″ Mike Evans vs. undersized defenders at his disposal, NFL defenders made Manziel pay for his reckless play.

Shaw was put into a really tough spot in Baltimore, but played well for someone coming off the practice squad. He utilized his rushing attack to stymie Baltimore’s ferocious pass rush while working the middle of the field by hitting tight end Jordan Cameron on a seam routes. Some of his throws were a little short and he threw a costly interception during the fourth quarter, which led to seven points.

If given more time and reps during the course of the season, Shaw may have had a chance to develop, hang on and knock Baltimore out of the playoffs.

Verdict: Is Connor Shaw Better Than Johnny Manziel? 

Simply put: The jury is still out. With Hoyer set to leave as a free agent, expect Cleveland to bring in a seasoned back-up quarterback. The battle for the starting role, however, will probably come down to Manziel and Shaw.

It may seem outlandish to suggest an undrafted rookie is better than the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, but Shaw has the raw skills and make-up to be an NFL quarterback. At the NFL Combine, Shaw demonstrated above average athleticism for a quarterback. At South Carolina, he posted a high AY/A (which suggests the ability to throw the ball down the field) coupled with a low interception rate, which highlights his skill and ability to throw down field with success. Given his ‘undrafted rookie’ label, Shaw did not receive a fair opportunity to compete for the starting quarterback job. 

It’s troubling that Manziel could not beat out Hoyer, a career back-up, for the starting quarterback role during training camp. Manziel has a lot of the raw skills needed to be a NFL quarterback, but he has to convince coaches, his team mates, and more importantly, Cleveland fans, that he can quickly go through his progressions, not bail out of the pocket when the first read isn’t open, and stop making stupid decisions when receivers aren’t open. That’s purely the football side of it.

The off-the-field side of Manziel is the troubling part. I’ve never met Manziel, so I don’t know what it’s like to be him. What I do know, however, is that he has a large cult following and isn’t shy about posting his off-the-field activity on social media. He also likes to host and attend parties, which always seem to find a way into the headlines. Is he committed to becoming a better NFL quarterback in the off-season? We’ll know if he did his homework next fall.

Final Thoughts

Let’s not forget that egos come into play when deciding which player starts. Let’s not forget that General Manager Ray Farmer gave into Manziel-Mania by trading up for him in the 2014 NFL Draft. If Manziel doesn’t succeed and Cleveland continues to sputter, Farmer will probably lose his job. Manziel getting beaten out by an undrafted rookie will not look good. Head coach Mike Pettine, however, will play the best quarterback. Will that be Manziel, Shaw, or someone else? It’s too early to tell, but don’t be surprised if Shaw out-right wins the job. He has the raw skills and make-up to challenge Johnny Football, if given the opportunity.