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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 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.

Despite coming off a terrible loss to the Buffalo Bills, the New York Jets still have some hope to make the playoffs. Sitting at 5-5 and in second place in the AFC East, they have a favorable last six games on their schedule. So can the Jets overcome the odds and make the playoffs, despite having so many holes in their lineup?

Rookie quarterback Geno Smith has certainly had his ups and downs this season, and he is coming off perhaps his worst professional performance ever. Simply put, be happy that you did not start him in fantasy football last week. The Bills made him look silly, forcing three interceptions and a lost fumble. He was so bad that the Jets benched him for Matt Simms, who looked decent in him limited playing time. There is no quarterback controversy yet, but Smith all of a sudden is under a little bit more pressure.

The Week 12 matchup for the Jets is huge, as they will travel to Baltimore to take on the 4-6 Ravens. Both of these teams are somehow holding onto their playoff life, with San Diego, Miami, Tennessee and others battling as well.

Perhaps the one major calling card for this Jets team right now is their young, dynamic defensive line. They have been largely responsible for their huge wins over the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints. Their offense is not going to simply outscore opponents, and they have no true fantasy football stars, but this team can win ugly as long as Smith (or Simms) can be competent out there.

The spotlight is always a little brighter on Rex Ryan and his Jets, but this team could take advantage of a top-heavy AFC this season. The loss last week isn’t the end of the world, but it makes this direct matchup with a contending Baltimore club that much bigger.

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The Boston Celtics are losers of four games in a row, and on Tuesday night, they’re going to have their work cut out for them against the New York Knicks, the leaders of the Atlantic Division.

During this losing streak, all hasn’t been disastrous for the Celtics. They have been playing incredibly shorthanded, as they are without Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger, and Kevin Garnett. KG is out of the fold once again on Tuesday night, and that really could create some major matchup problems in the paint with New York coming to town.

However, these losses for Boston haven’t been brutal. The defeat at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks on Friday came by 10 points, but the other three losses were only by a combined seven points, and they all were games that could have gone the other way.

New York meanwhile, is a team that you want to make your NBA picks on at the moment. A win on the road at the Utah Jazz to wrap up a West Coast swing really was what turned the tide in the other direction for the Knicks. Once they got back to Madison Square Garden, they were on their way to winning once again. Since that win over Utah, New York has rolled off three more victories in a row. Its winning streak is now at four games, and its cover streak is at five.

Getting Carmelo Anthony back in the lineup really has helped, as he is one of the top scorers in the whole league. He scored 65 points in two games against the Toronto Raptors last weekend, showing that he is clearly over the knee injury that cost him the mass majority of the road trip in the weeks prior.

Carmelo Anthony is expected to return tonight against the Orlando Magic. “I feel good as of right now, so I’ll be ready to play tonight,” says Anthony. Anthony has missed six of the Knicks’ last eight games, and presence has been sorely missed; they have lost five of their last seven.

This is not to say that other injuries haven’t been holding the Knicks back as well. Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler are both out as well, which has not done the Knicks any good. The hope is that Anthony will be able to provide the spark this team has been missing of late.

In the two most recent games Anthony played in, it is thought that he probably came back from being injured a bit too early. He shot 7-27 in those two games, and later admitted that he struggled playing below 100%. That does not seem to be the case this time around. When asked about his confidence in his knee, Carmelo responded by saying “I’m not thinking about my knee. I’m not thinking about anything. I feel good. Now I’m just playing ball at this point.”

The Knicks are not in danger of missing the playoffs by any stretch of the imagination, but minimizing injuries is an important part of making a playoff run. It is encouraging to see ‘Melo displaying such confidence in his knee after a couple scary outings. Let’s hope that everyone else is in tip-top shape come playoff time.

A good test for the Knicks comes on April 14th when they play the Pacers, who for the time being have edged into the second spot in the East. Tickets to the game start at $171 on SeatCrunch and reach prices in the realm of $4,020.

Golf fans everywhere are excited to witness this year’s Masters Golf Tournament that begins in April.  The Masters Golf Tournament is one of the longest running sports tournaments that’s been around for fans to enjoy since the early 1930s.  The tournament will take place this year in Augusta, Georgia at the Augusta National Golf Club and as always will bring with it many of the top golfers in the sport.  There’s one thing everyone is talking about with this upcoming tournament, however, and that’s Tiger Woods.

Experts everywhere are betting on Tiger Woods this year at the tournament after he’s proven that he’s more than willing and capable of getting back into the game.  Woods has been able to put ten wins under his belt since November of 2009 and he’s only got one more tournament left in his schedule at the Arnold Palmer Invitational before he’s ready to put all he’s got into the tournament in April.  He’s won the Arnold Palmer Invitational several times in the past and now he’s ready to kick it into gear at the Masters.

While some people speculate that his good fortunate at the Invitational and the Cadillac Championship has left him with nowhere to go but spiraling downward, the fact of the matter is that Tiger Woods is looking much better than he has in years.  It’s not completely out of the question that he might take the Masters by storm with his two earlier successes only just being a small taste of what’s to come from him.

The only thing that Tiger Woods needs to work on to be completely back on par with what he used to be is to get his weekend play times under control.  He hasn’t been doing so well in that department lately, but it looks like he’s en route to fix those issues as well.  It’s safe to say that it won’t be very surprising if Tiger Woods ends up winning the Masters – everyone’s already expecting it.

There are many great names appearing at the tournament this April, but no one has created as much buzz as Tiger Woods.  With two big wins already on his sleeve this year, there’s no reason why anyone should believe that he won’t be able to take the Masters as well.  He’s got not only his skills back, but he’s also been able to retain his confidence, which will go a very long way to helping him win this April.

When the New York Rangers made a play for Rick Nash, fans knew they were getting one of the best players in hockey. Despite being largely overlooked in Columbus due to his team’s lack of success, he is now thrown in the spotlight as one of the best players on a team in hockey’s biggest market.

Many feel that Nash could be that missing piece for the Rangers as they make a run at a Stanley Cup championship. This shortened season definitely makes things a bit different, but early on, Nash has meshed nicely with his team. So what are the keys for the Rangers when it comes to Nash?

For starters, any NHL team can use more scoring. Nash has been a solid scorer for years, notching 290 career goals and 259 assists as the main weapon for the Blue Jackets. While that type of production is probably not needed on a much better Rangers team, he will still be asked to bring his level of experience to help anchor an already solid offense.

Where Nash really thrives though is during both power plays and penalty killing opportunities. Many matches hinge on these crucial minutes, and few players are as good in both of these situations. The majority of star players excel in either one or the other, but the Rangers, and those who own him in fantasy hockey can feel comfortable with him on the ice at either point in the game.

New York was a solid offensive team, but they were near the bottom of the NHL in power play scoring. They need Nash’s help here more, although his penalty killing can certainly make the Rangers possibly the best team in the league in that category.

The Rangers were the best team in the Eastern Conference a year ago, but with no Stanley Cup to their name, it was a disappointing ending to the year. Nash brings skill and leadership qualities to an already stacked team looking to take advantage of the short season to make a strong playoff push.

Even without hockey, with hoops up and football crashing, NY talk radio has had more than enough topics to keep busy. Good thing for the Mets (and Yanks) who have little positive to report.

Of course we don’t know what the club will be until they get to spring training. But the Mets have a lot of work to do to get beyond where the whole organization has been trending in recent years.

On the plus side of the ledger, the installment of Sandy Alderson, his braintrust and Terry Collins has solidified what had been rocky baseball leadership. They seem to have a plan, although what that is they haven’t declared. We suspect it’s stripping down and rebuilding although they’re afraid to say it. I do believe that Mets fans would be relieved to know there’s actually a plan (instead of just putting David Wright, cheap retreads and AAAA players out there).

On the other side you’ve got the House of Wilpon, teaming up with Bernie Madoff, legal and financial problems, turning into a small market franchise at big market prices, badmouthing their star players like Wright and Dickey (who do they think they are the Red Sox?).

Fans have not taken well to the recent fortunes as the attached chart from shows. There is an aggregate 44.5% attendance slide over the past 4 years despite the shiny new Citi Field:

While reliable historical TV ratings are difficult to come by, according to the Mets have a 2.3 share in their local market, which is the 7th worst in MLB as of 2011.

It would seem that the Mets (and the Yanks) had terrible timing with the new ballparks but also badly overreached in terms of prices and amenities. It’s a given that their big revenues now come from local cable. And they may actually optimize their gate by higher prices and lower attendance. But it can never be a good thing for the ‘brand’ when you’re losing your fan base.

Personally I think the Wilpon’s will have a hard time ever getting Mets fans to warm up to them but giving their fans an actual reason to come out to the park would be a start.

Dave Graziano also blogs at about current sports news and opinion topics

We are more than halfway through the football season, ESPN has been overrun with football for months, and the New York Football Giants are on top of the NFC East. Life is good.

However there is something that can ruin a football Sunday, the lame tailgate. It’s a disaster and shame we must all avoid. So while we head into the final stretch of the season, let’s ramp up the fan spirit and throw some ultimate tailgates! Here are some tips on how to ensure you are doing it right:

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No matter what happens with Eli Manning in New York, many football fans will give the star quarterback a pass. Why? In the last few seasons, he graduated from Peyton’s younger brother to the man that brought two Super Bowl championships to the Big Apple. The first one was especially sweet because Manning’s Giants took down the then-undefeated New England Patriots.

Even though Manning is regarded as an elite quarterback, it doesn’t stop fans from asking one big question. What the heck is wrong with him this season, and by extension why are the Giants struggling?

Keep in mind one thing when this is debated. It is not the end of the world. The Giants are 6-4 overall, and it is still worth a trip to New Jersey to see one of the remaining home games. With six teams in the NFC sporting records equal to or better than the Giants, people worry that even with a division championship a lower playoff seed might come, and with it a game against someone like the Chicago Bears or Atlanta Falcons. We all know getting to games can be a hassle so the recommended route is to park your car at a Manhattan Monthly Parking lot and find a party van or bus out to Met Life.

The Giants have a bye this week before they come back into the fire with a game against the Green Bay Packers. Three of the final six games, including the Green Bay contest, are at MetLife Stadium. New York is currently 4-1 at home, its lone loss coming to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even then, that loss was by four points, 24-20, and it was close.

New York closes the schedule with a trip to Washington to see the Redskins, followed by a home game against New Orleans, trips to Atlanta and Baltimore, and the regular-season finale at home against Philadelphia. Worried fans might have pause to concern here. The Giants barely beat Washington, 27-23, in the earlier meeting this year, and Philadelphia tripped up the Giants 19-17. On a side note, there is a strong chance Michael Vick will not be under center when the Eagles play New York again, either due to an injury (concussion) or ineffectiveness. Rookie quarterback Nick Foles might take over.

Still, the New Orleans-Atlanta-Baltimore trio may give nervous Giants fans undue stress. The resurgent Saints have found their footing following rocky early ground, Atlanta is the best team in the NFL, and Baltimore has one of the best defenses in the league. The games against Washington and Philadelphia are important. New York has faced the 4-5 Dallas Cowboys twice and split its meetings.

How the Giants ultimately fare depends on Manning. He has averaged 29 touchdowns a season in the last three years, but through 10 games he only has 12 touchdowns to go with 11 interceptions. His lowest touchdown output over a full season was 21, in 2008, and Manning looks like he’s on his way to matching that total or barely eclipsing it.

The Giants still look like the team to beat in the NFC East, but unless Manning can pick up the pace it might be a division title and an early playoff exit. That might disappoint legends of Giant fans that hoped for a better performance coming off a Super Bowl season.