Browsing Posts published in November, 2012

Perhaps a bye week was just what QB Eli Manning was looking for to get his act back together again. He and his New York Giants had their bye in Week 11, and they came out firing in Week 12, putting up their most impressive victory of the season in a 38-10 romp over one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl, the Green Bay Packers. This week, Eli and the G-Men are on the road at the hot Washington Redskins, but there is every reason to believe that they will have a great chance of covering the 2 ½-point NFL odds put on the board for this week’s showdown.

Manning has thrown for 2,890 yards and 15 TDs this year in spite of the fact that he really hasn’t had a remarkable passing game in quite some time. Manning did throw for three TDs last week against the Pack, and he had a 114.4 quarterback rating in the game, his higher mark of the season. However, you have to go back to Week 7 against none other than these Redskins to find the last time that he threw for at least 300 yards.

This Washington defense had played better ball over the course of the last few weeks, but last week, it showed its true colors when it allowed 441 yards and three TDs through the air to QB Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys. That now marks eight times this year in 11 games that the Redskins have allowed at least 299 passing yards, and it was the fifth time that they had allowed three passing touchdowns. There has been just one game all year without a passing TD conceded by this Washington defense.

Should New York win this game, it will mark the fourth time in the last five seasons that it swept Washington. However, the Redskins are working on a four-game cover streak in this series dating back to the end of the 2010 regular season.

In most season, the Buffalo Bills would be pretty much said and done at just 4-7 with five games to play. However, here in the 2012 AFC, there really isn’t a team that is running away with the last Wild Card spot, and as a result, there are just two games to close on the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals, both of which are catchable, knowing that four of the final five games are going to be played at home. None of the five games are against teams that are likely to finish the season above .500 either, though at least as of right now, the Seattle Seahawks are 6-5.

So Head Coach Chan Gailey really needs to be impressing to his team that the season isn’t lost. Taking a closer look at some of the core stats from the last two games, there is reason to smile as well if you’re a bleeding Bill.

The pass rush was the one aspect of this team that truly lacked over the years, and that was supposed to be fixed with the additions of DE Mark Anderson and DE Mario Williams in the offseason. Unfortunately, the squad only amassed 20 sacks over the course of the first nine games of the season. Since that point, there have been seven sacks, and not surprisingly, there is a direct correlation between that increase in sacks and the decrease of points per game allowed.

Buffalo had allowed 31.7 points per game over the course of the first nine games of its season. Since that point, it has only allowed 14 to the Miami Dolphins and 20 to the Indianapolis Colts.

To start off this home stand, the Bills are going to run into the Jacksonville Jaguars, and if you want to make your NFL picks on them, you have to lay 5 ½-points.

With Winter Meetings right around the corner, free agents are trying to secure the best deal possible. Overall, this year’s crop of free agents is top heavy with Josh Hamilton headlining the class. However, there are several key Yankees, incluidng Russell Martin, that are looking for new contracts.

Currently, Martin is asking for a three or four year deal in the neighborhood of $9-$10 million per season. Over the last two season, Russell has been a key cog for the Yankees. While he won’t hit for a high average, Martin manages the Yankee pitching staff well and can hit for power.

With the Yankees aiming to fall below the $189 salary cap by 2014, Martin may unforunately fall out of the Yankees price range (how ironic). If I were to provide some sports betting options, my money would be on the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates are coveting Martin and may offer him a contract that the Yankees won’t. The Yankees may turn to free-agent, Mike Napoli to fill their catching void, but he is coveted by the Red Sox.

Ultimately, Martin will probably take a larger deal outside of New York. He has been a fun player to watch, but the price may not be right for the Yankees.

When you’ve got an offense that features a plodding runner, a quarterback that is in above his head, and a bunch of wide receivers that probably should be playing in the Arena Football League, you can’t afford many self-inflicted wounds. That’s why the New York Jets have been getting embarrassed at times this year, something that they can’t afford to do on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.

Oh sure, New York is the subject of many NFL picks at -4 ½ on Sunday, but if the team turns the ball over like it has at times this year, there is just no telling how ugly this game at MetLife Stadium might get.

Last week alone, the Jets turned the ball over five times. Two of those turnovers ended up being returned for touchdowns, and as a result, the final score was an ugly 49-19 in favorite of the New England Patriots.

New York has no lost a whopping 12 fumbles this year to go with 10 INTs. Five times, those turnovers have been returned for TDs. To put that in comparison, the whole offense only has 20 TDs scored for the year, so for every five touchdowns that the squad scores, it directly gives one up.

Take away the very first game of the year against the Buffalo Bills, and the offense is averaging scoring just 17.3 points per game, and if you take away all of the special teams and defensive touchdowns from that number as well, the offense is actually only averaging 15.2 points per game.

Arizona brings a defense to town that has forced 23 turnovers this year. This defense had a string of 15 straight games without allowing more than 23 points snapped four weeks ago versus the San Francisco 49ers, and the team hasn’t allowed fewer than 23 points in a game since that point. Last week though, the St. Louis Rams scored 14 of their 31 points directly off of interceptions returned for touchdowns.

There are rumors swirling around that the New York Knicks are interested in bringing on veteran Kenyon Martin. We break down this potential move and whether or not New York would be wise to do such a thing.

Martin was drafted first overall by the New Jersey Nets back in 2000 and went on to have a fairly productive career. He had his best season for the Nets in 2003/2004 when he averaged 16.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks per game.

That summer though, he moved on to the Denver Nuggets, where he stayed for seven seasons. Martin brought a certain toughness inside and provided George Karl with grit and terrific defense and rebounding ability.

With career averages of 13.0 points and 7.1 rebounds, Martin could still be of use to an NBA team, especially since he’s 34 years old. There are far older players in the league right now, so perhaps he still has some bounce in his step.

But do the Knicks even need the guy?

New York is off to a fast start for one, and then you have to take into consideration the fact they already have plenty of veteran pieces on their roster. Kurt Thomas, Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby are all playing for the Knicks right now, so where would Martin fit in? He’s younger and more talented offensively than both Thomas and Camby, but that’s not saying too much.

Martin is also a bit of a hot head and could end up being a liability. New York already has one temperament issue in Wallace, who’s already getting technicals left and rights since earning more playing time.

The truth of the matter is the Knicks simply doesn’t need Martin, especially with Amare Stoudemire set to return in the near future, so keep taking Mike Woodson’s team with your NBA picks like normal. Nothing’s changed.

Carmelo Anthony continues to put up ridiculous numbers, and his play has the New York Knicks playing better basketball than practically everyone else so far this season.

Anthony has helped the Knicks to a 9-3 start and their current first-place position in the Atlantic Division. New York is averaging 103.4 points per game and is allowing 95.4 PPG, both of which rank them in the top ten in each category.

The star forward may not contribute much defensively, but he’s been an absolute force on the offensive end. Anthony is averaging 25.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game so far on the year.

But, the biggest difference for Anthony is he’s been a far more efficient scorer, and that’s primarily because Mike Woodson has been playing him at the four with Amare Stoudemire out. Anthony is torching opposing defenders with his athletic ability and deadly shooting stroke.

That’s why Anthony is averaging 47.0 percent shooting overall and an impressive 41.9 percent from three. The overall mark is his best since the 2007/09 season and his three-point average is in the top two of his career.

This is a big reason why the Knicks are cashing in the NBA odds seemingly every night. Oddsmakers still aren’t giving these guys enough respect.

We could see some sizable changes once Stoudemire returns to full health, though we’re hoping nothing too drastic occurs. Woodson must realize that he’s better off with Anthony at the four, and should start bringing Stoudemire off the bench to be the main guy for the second unit. We’re a little skeptical that that won’t end up happening however considering how much money has been poured into Stoudemire’s contract.

Either way, Anthony is playing at an extremely high level, and if he keeps this up and keeps bringing the Knicks wins, he should certainly be mentioned in the MVP race.

A long weekend of turkey and football will be capped off Sunday night with a juicy matchup between the past two Super Bowl champions. The Green Bay Packers (7-3) invade the New York Giants (6-4) at MetLife Stadium for what is also a rematch of a divisional playoff game won by the Giants in January.

New York received a much-needed bye last week following two straight losses, including a 31-13 setback at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals 31-13 as a 3.5-point road favorite. The losses, coupled with the recent surge of the Washington Redskins, have left the defending Super Bowl champions with just a 1 1/2-game lead in the NFC East. A loss to the Packers and things could get interesting down the stretch in this division.

According to the Week 12 NFL odds, the Giants are 3-point home favorites against the Packers with the over/under listed between 49.5 and 51 points, depending on where you look.

First and foremost for the Giants will be getting quarterback Eli Manning back on track for the season’s home stretch. The two-time Super Bowl MVP has played poorly in three straight games, which includes throwing four interceptions versus zero touchdown passes. That is the longest streak without a TD pass in Manning’s career.

The hope out of Gotham is a  week of rest is just what the doctor ordered for Manning. Rumors have been that Manning has suffered from a tired arm and it’s hoped the bye will allow him to return to the elite level he showed earlier this season.

The Packers have reeled off five consecutive wins, despite dealing with a rash of injuries, especially on the defensive side. At least three starters will be out against the Giants—All-Pro linebacker Clay Matthews, former NFL defensive player of the year Charles Woodson and cornerback Sam Shields.

New York has seen its lead in the division slip and is getting ever-more desperate for a win. However, Green Bay is playing perhaps its best football of the season right now. This one figures to be close, but the Giants may be due the slight edge given the home-field and injury concerns of the Packers.

Buffalo’s up-and-down season has continued, but the Bills still have a chance of making the playoffs. A road win over the Indianapolis Colts would be a great way to get that postseason push started.

After suffering through a three-game winless streak, which included losses to the Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans and New England Patriots, the Bills rebounded by beating the Miami Dolphins 19-14 in Week 11.

Though Ryan Fitzpatrick and the offense couldn’t get going, Buffalo’s defense was excellent, forcing three Dolphins turnovers and holding their opponents to just 184 yards of total offense.

The Bills will look to carry over that defensive prowess to Week 12 against Andrew Luck’s Colts. Luck has been as advertised and has Indianapolis at 6-4 this season. The Colts are going to be a tough team to beat at home, especially because of Buffalo’s inconsistency.

Fred Jackson has apparently passed his concussion tests and will play a part in Sunday’s game, though Chan Gailey has already let it be known that C.J. Spiller will get a majority of the touches. It’s about time. Jackson has been solid, but Spiller is a threat to go to the house every time he touches the ball. You’ve got to get your best playmakers the ball as much as humanly possible.

We’re not too worried about Buffalo’s running attack this week, but we do fear their defense will have a tough time holding the Colts in check. Buffalo is #18 in pass defense and #1 in run defense, so it’s not like they can afford to make mistakes on the defensive end.

Still, the Bills have shown a tendency to show up when you least expect it, so we wouldn’t be surprised in the least if they come in and beat Indianapolis, while also covering as underdogs in the eyes of those making their NFL picks. Just don’t expect too much.

The New York Jets haven’t had a heck of a lot go their way this year. They’re a 4-6 team, they have one of the most embarrassing offenses in football, and they pretty much have to beat the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving Day night to be able to stay in the playoff chase in the AFC.

If there’s one bright spot though, it is the New York secondary. This unit, even without DB Darrelle Revis for most of the season, still ranks fourth in the league in pass defense at 200.1 yards per game. Part of that is the fact that the offense can’t keep up and teams end up just running the ball to run out the clock on the Jets, but there is still no denying just how good this unit really is at the back.

Case in point: Look back to what happened a few weeks ago when these two teams met. The Jets kept the Pats close every step of the way and forced overtime. Yes, they ultimately lost the game, but they also made a real statement at the time that they could still beat any team in the land in spite of their struggles.

QB Mark Sanchez – yes, that Mark Sanchez – threw for 328 yards and a TD that day. The immortal QB Tom Brady? Just 259 yards and two scores. It was one of the only games this year in which the Patriots scored just a total of two offensive touchdowns.

Since giving up 259 yards to Brady, the New York secondary really has stepped it up. The team allowed 149 yards to the Miami Dolphins, 188 to the Seattle Seahawks, and 170 to the St. Louis Rams, and the last game against St. Louis came when QB Sam Bradford and company threw the ball 44 times.

Still, the Jets at +6 ½ for NFL picks on Sunday at home against New England. If the team is going to pull the upset though, it’s the secondary that is going to have to be big.

Brook Lopez is healthy and playing much better than he did last season, which would explain why the Brooklyn Nets have enjoyed a great start.

We were wondering how the Nets would fare with their new-look lineup, but so far so good for Avery Johnson’s squad. Brooklyn will take a 6-2 record into Tuesday night’s encounter with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Brooklyn has won five straight and Lopez has been an important part of the streak. He’s averaging 18.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per contest during the streak, leading the Nets to two wins over Orlando and then victories over Cleveland, Boston and Sacramento too.

Lopez had a year to forget in 2011/12, as he played only five games and finished with averages of 19.2 points and a career-low 3.6 rebounds. He had struggled on the boards the previous year too (5.9 RPG), but it looks like he’s been making it a focus to get involved on the glass. It’s paying off for everyone involved.

As a seven-footer, Lopez has the size to continuously grab at least 10 rebounds a game, and it will simply be about being committed.

If he continues to be a force on the glass, the Nets are going to be a tough team to beat. They don’t even have a healthy Gerald Wallace at the moment, yet are still winning game after game. They’re cashing frequently in the public’s NBA picks and have exceeded expectations thus far.

We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves though. Brooklyn hasn’t exactly had the most difficult schedule out there so far, so we want to see how they do against some elite competition before making some outlandish statements. Nets fans have to be pretty darn happy about what they’ve seen so far out of Lopez and company though.