New York Picks Chair For Gambling Commission

The state of New York, which could see a handful of Las Vegas-style commercial casinos pop up in the not-so-distant future, has picked a chair for the five-member Gaming Commission.

The Commission is just a year old.

The New York State Gaming Commission is tasked with overseeing the fledgling commercial casino industry. The state has other forms of gambling, including tribal casinos, lottery and horseracing, which the Commission will also be in charge of regulating.

The governor chose Mark Gearan, who, according to the Saratogian, is the president of Hobart and Williams Smith Colleges in Geneva. Prior to that, he led the Peace Corps and served as Assistant to the President, Director of Communications and Deputy Chief of Staff to Bill Clinton.

“I am pleased to welcome Mark Gearan, a proven leader with years of management experience in the public and private sectors, to serve as Chair of the Gaming Commission,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “Casino gaming holds the potential to create thousands of new jobs in Upstate New York, while providing millions of dollars to schools and local governments statewide. Mark’s decades of public service and great work leading Hobart and William Smith Colleges will be of tremendous value in this new role, and I thank him for taking the time to serve on the Gaming Commission.”

The New York Senate approved the appointment last week.

Gearan’s term is for five years.

 

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Report: Sixers hunting for picks before deadline

 

Evan Turner isn't worried about his extension. (USATSI)
The 76ers want picks in return for gamers. (USATSI)

The 76ers have available items if anyone desires them. Namely Evan Turner, who has been shopped regularly because the starting of the season.

However with the trade deadline coming this Thursday, what are they after in return? Picks. Lots and plenty of picks. By way of the Philadelphia Inquirer:The franchise needs to realize future compensation in change for Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes, and Thaddeus Younger, stated the source, who spoke on situation of anonymity. With probably the most cap area within the league and an open roster spot, the Sixers will think about buying an expiring contract from a group seeking to dump a salary. However that more than likely will also involve receiving a draft choose.

The Sixers are about $eleven million under the salary cap, that means they may full an unbalanced deal by taking over more wage.

Turner has been linked to a bunch of teams as he's on an expiring deal and doesn't seem to think about to general manager Sam Hinkie's plans. Thaddeus Young is an intriguing player that could be part of a big deal. Or there's sweet taking pictures massive man Spencer Hawes who might make a big distinction on a playoff staff.

Despite being terrible, the 76ers have gamers folks want. And all you've got to do to get them is supply up a choose or two. Or three.

 

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Rice makes Brees, Quinn top Pro Bowl picks

Rice picked New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees plus St. Louis defensive finish Robert Quinn to point his Pro Bowl group on Tuesday, opting for the passer over a runner.

Rice produced the selections in the hawaiian islands after winning a gold coin toss against Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders. Rice known as tails.

 

[+] Enlarge

Drew Brees

Jerry grain picked Saints QB received Brees, above, and Rams DE Robert Quinn as the anchors of his professional Bowl team.

The decision prompted Sanders to select Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles and Houston defensive finish J. J. Watt with regard to Sunday's game.

"Don't think all of us forget Jerry picked all of them first, " Watt stated when asked whether the brand new schoolyard-style format would keep players with bruised egos.

the particular toss and selections began a new process for the national football league in selecting this year's Pro Bowl teams. grain and Sanders are helping as captains and common managers in charge of divvying up the NFL stars.

 

"I'm so driven – I'm ready to operate some routes, " grain said at a news meeting after winning the throw, picking his players plus embracing them as energetic player captains.

 

Added Sanders: "That's exactly how I thought it was going to go. "

 

The toss offered Sanders and Rice an additional chance for good-natured trash speak in a game that's turn out to be as much about showcasing their own personalities as celebrating the particular accomplishments of the NFL's greatest.

 

grain and Sanders split up inside lineman, punters and fullbacks during the first part of the write, with the 22 picks introduced on a tape-delayed show.

 

Sanders selected Ndamukong Suh with his 1st defensive tackle selection, and then opted for Gerald McCoy plus Dontari Poe. Rice snapped up Jason Hatcher and Marcell Dareus, and was designated Kyle Williams.

 

Among guards, grain picked two of Brees' brand new Orleans teammates, Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs, along with Evan Mathis. Sanders selected Marshal Yanda and Logan Mankins and was designated Kyle Long.

 

Centers Mike Pouncey and Alex Mack went to Sanders, while Ryan Kalil and Nick Mangold went to Rice.

 

The rest of the players will be selected Wednesday during a draft shown live on the NFL system.

 

national football league officials are hoping the new format is a recipe for a more competitive game on the field and higher rankings as the bulk of league followers look toward the extremely Bowl on Feb. 2 .

 

Brees said players know how to stability the demands of playing difficult and avoiding injury.

 

"What it comes down to is just pride — pride in your effort and your performance, " Brees stated.

Vikes’ Zimmer picks Norv Turner as O-coordinator

Norv Turner plus Rob Chudzinski didn’t last long in Cleveland.

(USATSI)Norv Turner and Rob Chudzinski didn't last long in Cleveland. (USATSI)
a lot more NFL coaches news: training change tracker | most recent news
Norv Turner offers agreed to be the Vikings’ brand new offensive coordinator, according to the league source.

Turner will keep the Browns, where he offered as offensive coordinator for one season, and join paul Zimmer’s staff in mn. Much of Zimmer’s success will be predicated on finding plus developing a quarterback, which is Turner’s forte.

Turner became available after the Browns surprisingly fired head trainer Rob Chudzinski after just one year on the job. Browns protective coordinator Ray Horton offers departed as well, taking over that will same position with the giants.
Turner is well regarded as an unpleasant play-caller. He has been the head coach with the Redskins, Raiders and Chargers plus an offensive coordinator with the Cowboys, Dolphins and 49ers.

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Broncos Fan Picks Fight With Chargers Fans, Gets Beat Down in San Diego

broncos-fan-arrestedBroncos fans have been jubilant after surviving the San Diego Chargers in the AFC Divisional spherical on Sunday. Chargers fans were less happy. So when a lone, Peyton Manning jersey-wearing Broncos fan bought a bit too wild in entrance of opposing followers, he found some folks more than keen to interact in a avenue fight. In accordance with the video uploader of this video, this Broncos fan “decided to run by the charger followers in San Diego nationwide city like a dumbass.” Enter street justice. The Chargers fans got the Broncos fan to the bottom and kicked and punched him until police jumped in. In keeping with FOX 5 San Diego everyone was arrested, together with the Broncos fan.

 

 

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Cavs deal Bynum, 3 picks to Bulls for Deng

In a move that has the Cleveland Cavaliers interested by the current and the Chicago Bulls thinking about the long run, the two teams executed a significant commerce late Monday evening. The Bulls are sending two-time All-Star Luol Deng to the Cavs for Andrew Bynum, three future draft picks and major salary savings.

The Cavs, seeking to end a 3-yr playoff drought, try to make a run by acquiring Deng to shore up the small ahead position. They parlayed Bynum's favorable contract into a bit to put subsequent to young guards Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.

Deng, 28, is averaging 19 factors, 6.9 rebounds and three.7 assists in 23 games. He has been bothered by an injured Achilles that caused him to miss nine video games over the past six weeks. He has returned to play in the Bulls' past three games. The Cavs, who've lost eight of their past evening video games and have been lacking Irving with a knee damage, are hoping Deng helps them turn things round.

Cleveland proprietor Dan Gilbert welcomed Deng through Twitter early Tuesday morning.

"We've labored to acquire and maintain flexibility as a way to capitalize on opportunities equivalent to this," Cavs general supervisor Chris Grant said. "Luol reflects all that we are striving for in constructing our staff. He's a tremendous defensive player that can affect the game on both ends of the court docket with a team-first mentality and is a excessive character leader."

Andrew Bynum

The Bulls are expected to waive Andrew Bynum Tuesday to allow them to clear his $12.three million wage off their books.

The Bulls, who are going through a lost season after a bevy of accidents, including a season-ending knee injury to Derrick Rose, are focusing on the upcoming draft and subsequent season. Chicago plan to waive Bynum by 5 p.m. Tuesday and clear his $12.three million wage off their books. That can enable the Bulls to get under the luxury tax threshold, which, combined with the financial savings from not having to pay Deng the stability of his $14.three million salary, will save the crew in more than $20 million.

Bynum is anticipated to clear waivers and turn out to be a free agent by the tip of the week. Although he was suspended by the Cavs for one recreation for conduct detrimental to the team and excused from group activities, he's expected to be chased on the open market. The Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Warmth and New York Knicks are among the many groups expected to contemplate offering him a landing spot.

Along with the financial savings, the Bulls received a future first-round draft pick owed to the Cavs by the Sacramento Kings from a 2011 commerce for J.J. Hickson. The Bulls will get the Kings' decide if it falls exterior the top 12 in 2014 or outdoors the highest 10 picks in 2015, 2016 or 2017. The Bulls also received the 2015 and 2016 second-round picks the Portland Path Blazers owed the Cavs. In a last piece, the Bulls will have the ability to swap draft positions with the Cavs in 2015 as long as the Cavs' draft choose is outdoors the top 14 picks.

The Bulls had said they wanted to maintain Deng, who they drafted in 2004 and signed to a $71 million extension in 2008. But talks on a new contract for Deng, who's scheduled to be a free agent on the end of the season, had stalled and the savings and the draft considerations had been attractive.

"We have now great respect for Luol Deng as a participant and an individual," Bulls normal supervisor Gar Forman mentioned. "The strikes made at the moment will put us in a greater position to make your complete roster stronger for the future and to compete for a championship."

[+] EnlargeLuol Deng

AP Photo/Carlos OsorioLuol Deng, 28, is averaging 19 points and 6.9 rebounds this season.

In addition to their own draft decide, the Bulls additionally personal the Charlotte Bobcats' 2014 first-spherical decide if it falls exterior the top 10. Additionally they personal the rights to star Spanish ahead Nikola Mirotic, who they hope to bring over to play next season.

Final summer, the Cavs had greater than $15 million in wage cap room left after they failed to commerce for the Lakers' Pau Gasol. They took a measured threat on Bynum, who missed the entire 2012-thirteen season with knee injuries. The Cavs were the one team to supply Bynum a major contract they usually protected it with provisions that enabled them to execute this commerce before his full contract turned assured on Tuesday.

Bynum averaged eight.four points and 5.3 rebounds in 24 games, 19 of them begins. However he consistently had issues with fellow teammates and coaches, which led to the suspension and the Cavs' determination to trade him.

The Cavs had in depth talks with the Los Angeles Lakers in another attempt to get Gasol over the previous week. The Lakers remained firm of their stance to not deal their 4-time All Star without receiving belongings of value until the very end of negotiations, when the Cavs ended the talks to give attention to the Bulls' supply.

The Lakers have been in the same position because the Bulls, with Kobe Bryant injured and with the option to trade for and waive Bynum to save $20 million. The Lakers believe, in accordance with sources, that they will produce other ways to get under the luxury tax threshold before the commerce deadline and that Gasol still holds worth across the league.

ESPNChicago.com's Nick Friedell and ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne contributed to this report.

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Top-rated Fournette picks LSU at UA game

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The highest-rated participant in the country, Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine), ended months of hypothesis by committing to LSU within the fourth quarter of Thursday's Beneath Armour All-America sport.

Fournette was one in every of seven ESPN 300 prospects who made their decisions throughout the game on ESPN, with one other committing hours later.

The 6-foot-1, 226-pound Fournette chose LSU over Alabama and Texas.

The five-star running back has been tight-lipped about his recruitment throughout the process, but stated his relationship with LSU running backs coach Frank Wilson and head coach Les Miles led to his decision.

"I chose LSU because I felt dwelling there," Fournette stated. "I have an amazing relationship with both coaches, Coach Miles and Coach Frank. The choice was made yesterday when I used to be speaking to my mother and father late at evening about what school I wished to attend. I used to be type of going back and forth, so at the finish of the day I prayed on it and I woke up and I felt that LSU was going to be the place for me."

Fournette's resolution came as welcome information for the Tigers. 5 gamers who announced their decisions on the Below Armour sport had LSU as a finalist, but solely two, including Fournette, chose the Tigers.

With the addition of the top-ranked player, LSU now has 18 commitments, together with 14 ranked within the ESPN 300. Fournette will seemingly have a chance to see the field early in his career. The Tigers did not land a running back in the 2013 class and have just one other working again commit in the 2014 class, three-star Darrel Williams (Marrero, La./John Ehret).

NOIL JOINS PROFICIENT TEXAS A&M CLASS: No. 8 recruit Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Edna Karr) dedicated to Texas A&M.

Noil, a 5-star athlete, said he chose the Aggies over in-state LSU largely because of the environment he experienced in School Station when he went there on his official visit Sept. 13.

"It felt like residence when I went on my official go to," Noil mentioned. "I look ahead to taking my abilities to A&M."

With Noil's dedication, the Aggies now have 21 verbal commitments, including eleven in the ESPN 300. He joins DE Myles Garrett, a fellow Below Armour All-American, because the five-star pledges for Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin.

INJURED DB BROWN ROLLS TO TIDE: Despite lacking Thursday's sport because of a shoulder damage suffered earlier within the week, five-star defensive back Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen) dedicated to Alabama over LSU and Ohio State.

The decision by Brown, the No. 4-ranked cornerback and the No. eleven player overall in the ESPN 300, comes as considerably of a shock considering his older sister, Bealoved, runs monitor for LSU.

Alabama strengthened the nation's No. 1 recruiting class, which now has 25 commitments, together with 18 ranked in the ESPN 300. Brown is the third 5-star player who has dedicated to the Crimson Tide.

NO. 15 OVERALL CHOOSES ARIZONA OVER BAMA: Maybe the largest surprise occurred in the third quarter when Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C./Friendship Academy), the No. 15 player recruit within the ESPN 300, dedicated to Arizona over Alabama.

Tabor had Alabama, Florida and Maryland close to the top of his list for several months, however the Wildcats started to maneuver up it after a visit on Nov. 15.

"After I went on my visit, it was nearly a household ambiance," Tabor stated. "They play for each other, and I consider I can provide a spark right away."

With the addition of Tabor, Arizona now has 28 commitments, including 5 ranked in the ESPN 300. Tabor is the workforce's highest-rated commit.

No. 22 OVERALL RECOMMITS TO ALABAMA: Hours after Alabama picked up the commitment from Brown, No. 22 Laurence Jones (Monroe, La./Neville) introduced he again shall be part of the Crimson Tide's class.

"I just talked to my mom about it," Jones stated. "I really admire the way in which Ole Miss tried to maintain recruiting me, and I actually recognize the teaching workers from Ole Miss. They had been like the one school I was nonetheless talking to after I decommitted from Alabama, but I simply felt more at residence at Alabama."

Jones, the No. 2 safety, informed the employees this week that he likely was headed back to the Crimson Tide.

"I informed them there was going to be an amazing chance I used to be going to come back, however I wasn't for certain I was going to come back again. They instructed me to take my time, go wherever I am completely happy at, wished me the best of luck wherever I ended up, however they told me they hoped I got here again," Jones mentioned.

Jones first committed to Nick Saban and his staff Dec. 2, but backed off his verbal commitment Dec. 18.

NO. 3-RANKED SAFETY TO LSU: Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron), the No. 3-ranked security within the ESPN 300 and the 23rd player general, dedicated to LSU over Florida and Texas A&M during the second quarter.

The 6-foot, 204-pound Adams, a four-star prospect, mentioned his comfort stage with the Tigers was what ultimately led to his determination.

"I just felt extra comfortable there," Adams mentioned. "The opportunity at LSU is there for me. I'm just ready to go win some national championships."

As a senior, Adams had 75 tackles on protection and in addition totaled more than 1,000 all-purpose yards for Hebron.

MOM ONCE MORE DISSATISFIED BY SON'S ALTERNATIVE: Two years after she publicly disapproved of older son Landon Collins selecting Alabama over LSU, April Justin was once more dissatisfied as youthful son Gerald Willis III (New Orleans/Edna Karr) selected Florida over the Tigers.

It was a lot-wanted good news for the Gators, who earlier within the week lost a commitment from No. 20 recruit Dalvin Prepare dinner

Willis III, the No. 3-ranked defensive sort out and the No. 29 participant general, chose the Gators over LSU and Alabama.

"I will take my abilities to Gainesville, Fla.," Willis said when he announced his commitment. "Go Gators."

His mom did not appear as upset as she did two years ago but nonetheless didn't appear thrilled.

"It is what it is," Justin said. "Florida Gators, that's the place we'll be. LSU is still No. 1."

The Gators now have 19 commitments, together with eleven ranked within the ESPN 300.

SEMINOLES LAND NO. 7 WR: Travis Rudolph (West Palm Seaside, Fla./Cardinal Newman) verbally dedicated to Florida State within the second quarter. The No. sixty one player in the ESPN 300 stunned many and committed to the Seminoles over Alabama, which he had named his leader earlier in the week.

"First day on campus, I simply felt like it was the place to be," the nation's No. 7 broad receiver mentioned. "I prayed on it and thought about it and that is where I needed to be."

With the addition of Rudolph, FSU now has 29 verbal commitments, together with 12 ranked within the ESPN 300.

The Seminoles have had an excellent week of recruiting. Earlier within the week, Cook switched his commitment from Florida to the Noles. Lorenzo Featherston (Greensboro, N.C./Web page), the No. 27 participant in the nation, committed to FSU on Wednesday.

 

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NCAA Prediction Bowl Game Preview/Pick- Virginia Tech vs. #17 UCLA

ncaa picks prediction

Virginia Tech Hokies (8-4) vs. #17 UCLA Bruins (9-3) 12/31- 2:00PM EST

 

HYUNDAI SUN BOWL- El Paso, TX

 

Line: UCLA -7.0

Over/Under: 47.0

 

The No. 17 UCLA Bruins will try for their first bowl win four years on New Year’s Eve when face for the first time the Virginia Tech Hokies in the Sun Bowl.

 

UCLA coach Jim Mora in just his second year has turned the Bruins football program around and with a win can cap their best season in eight years since they went 10-2 back in 2005 finishing the year with a No. 16 ranking.

 

UCLA (9-3) believes Jim Mora is their coach for the long-haul and signed him to a six-year contract extension in early December to ward off suitors from other high-profile programs, nonetheless, Mora has been linked to replace Mack Brown at Texas… a rumor Mora has denied.

 

Rumors. It’s flattering,” Mora said. “I think it says a lot about our program and the direction we’re heading, but I am very, very, very extremely delightfully happy to be the head coach at UCLA, and want to be for a very long time.”

 

Last year in the Holiday Bowl in Mora’s first year, the Bruins we’re pounded by the Baylor Bears 49-26 to deny UCLA a double-digit win season.

 

But now that Mora is locked in, UCLA fans can only hope sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley will be returning for his junior season.

 

Hundley this year leads the Pac-12 with a 67.8 completion percentage, throwing for 2,845 yards with 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions and over his last five games has thrown eight scoring passes while being picked off only once.

 

Hundley is also getting it done on the ground as he leads the Bruins with 587 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.

 

The Bruins have been hit hard with injuries on the offensive line and struggled to protect Hundley, who has been sacked 33 times, second-most in the conference and facing a Virginia Tech team that leads the ACC in sacks with 37 will be a great challenge.

 

Generating any type of offense against the Hokies defense will be a tough task for Brett Hundley and the Bruins where they are among the nations-best against the run allowing 103.8 yards per game, the pass 168.5 yards and interceptions with 19.

 

Coach Jim Mora isn’t surprised by the Hokies (8-4), who are led by long time coach Frank Beamer.

 

They play great special teams, they play outstanding defense. That’s what they do,” Mora said. “They play hard. They play with discipline. You don’t see technique errors. You don’t see missed assignments. You see a bunch of guys who know what they are supposed to do with a lot of certainty, and they do it fast and with bad intentions.

 

It’s an impressive team to watch.”

 

Beamer will be leading the Hokies into their 21st consecutive bowl game, which is the longest active streak for a coach and second only to Florida State’s 32 active bowl runs.

 

Virginia Tech is led by Logan Thomas who will be calling the signals for his third straight bowl, but will need to improve his performance where he is just 34 of 67 passes for 407 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions over his first two bowl appearances.

 

Expect the Hokies to utilize running back Trey Edmunds who leads the team with 675 yards while averaging 4.1 yards per carry with 12 TDs—10 rushing against a Bruins defense that is yielding an average of 193.6 rushing yards over it’s last seven games.

 

I’m looking forward to watching Pac-12’s freshman of the year Myles Jack, the two-way player who lines up in the backfield and stars at linebacker. Jack has 269 yards on 37 carries with seven touchdowns.

 

It’s exciting for us to go against offenses like that. It’s a good test for us,” Virginia Tech linebacker Jack Tyler said. “That’s the most exciting and energetic part of this thing is that we get to go play a team like that.

 

If you beat a team like UCLA, everybody seems to think this year is a success. If you go and lose, then everyone thinks the opposite.”

 

The Bruins have been made a (minus -7.0) point favorite for Tuesday’s game by the oddsmakers, but get the latest spread on the game up until kickoff right here at Wonder Punter.

 

Expect a great and exciting game from both teams as these two teams will be meeting for the first time, but I predict the Bruins to give Jim Mora his first bowl win.

 

Prediction/Pick: UCLA

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

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NFL Prediction Week 17 Sunday Night Game Preview/Pick- Eagles vs. Cowboys

ncaa prediction

Philadelphia Eagles (9-6) @ Dallas Cowboys (8-7) 12/29- 8:30PM EST

 

Line: PHI -7.0

Over/Under: 52.5

 

The NFL’s regular season-finale on Sunday night will feature the biggest game of the year for both the Eagles and Cowboys who will put it all on the line for the NFC East title and most importantly… a playoff spot.

 

As widely reported, Tony Romo will not be available for this Sunday’s win-or-go home showdown, so the Dallas Cowboys will put their hopes on NFL veteran Kyle Orton.

 

The thinking is, with the Cowboys (8-7) having lost their last two regular season finales to division foes to be eliminated from playoff contention, they can’t do any worse with Orton calling the signals.

 

The more times you put yourself in these situations, you have to keep getting better,” said Romo, who is 1-6 in elimination games. “You have to have a stronger belief in yourself than the doubt of other people.”

 

Romo will be on the sidelines on Sunday night having had back surgery on Friday in which he hurt last week in their 24-23 comeback win over Washington.

 

It’s simple for Orton… win, take the title and earn a trip to the playoffs, lose and go home. For the Eagles, a win or tie will give them the East and a playoff spot.

 

We’ve been operating as if Kyle Orton is going to be our starting quarterback,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “At the same time we were trying to do whatever we could to see if we could help Tony and get him back as quickly as possible. We just felt like this was the best course of action.”

 

The Cowboys with Romo under center are 0-3 in regular-season finales with the division title up for grabs. They lost to Phily in 2008 44-6, 31-14 to the New York Giants in 2011 and last year to the Redskins 28-18.

 

Orton is a nine-year NFL veteran with a 35-34 record and will have an opportunity to lead a team into the postseason for the first time with a win and the Eagles will be ready.

 

I don’t think the offense changes too much with one or the other,” Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis said.

 

For the Eagles (9-6), Nick Foles has had a great season once he won the starting quarterback position, but a game of this magnitude for all the marbles is uncharted territory for him. Foles worst performance during the season came at the hands of the Cowboys back on October 20 when he went 11 of 29 for just 80 yards in a 17-3 loss in which he left the game in the third quarter with a concussion.

 

I know everybody is going to dwell on last time, but this game isn’t the last game. Foles said.

 

Since that dismal performance, and sitting out the following week, Foles has won six of seven, throwing for 22 touchdowns in nine starts with only two interceptions and is also the leagues top-rated passer.

 

With the absence of Romo, the Eagles can expect a heavy dose of running back DeMarco Murray, who has rushed for 614 yards with six touchdowns in his last six games. He is also averaging 5.8 yards a carry, but will be facing an Eagles defense that has held its last four opponents under 100 yards on the ground.

 

Philadelphia will also counter with league-leading rusher LeSean McCoy who has 1,476 yards and will be facing a porous Dallas rushing defense that is allowing an average of 150.6 rushing yards per game.

 

The oddsmakers have confidence in the Eagles getting it done on Sunday making them a big (minus -7.0) point favorite on the road, but get the latest up until game time right here at Wonder Punter.

 

The Cowboys have put their confidence in Orton, who has completed 12 of 15 passes for 129 in his two years with Dallas.

 

I think the guys have a lot of confidence in me. I’ve got a lot of confidence in myself,” Orton said. “I can fall back on my experience.”

 

Will that confidence and experience by Orton translate to a big Dallas win remains to be seen, but all my money is on the Eagles winning Sunday to knock ‘Americas Team’ out the playoffs once again.

 

Prediction/Pick: Philadelphia

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

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NCAA Prediction Bowl Game Preview/Pick- Michigan vs. Kansas State

wolverines

Michigan Wolverines (7-5) vs. Kansas State Wildcats (7-5) 12/28- 10:15PM EST

 

BUFFALO WINGS BOWL- Tempe, AZ

 

Line: KSU -5.0

Over/Under: 55.5

 

The Kansas State Wildcats, winners of five of their final six games and feeling confident, head into Tempe on Saturday night in search of their first bowl game victory since 2002 as they take on a Michigan team that has struggled down the stretch and will be without their starting quarterback.

 

The Wildcats (7-5) have been a successful program under coach Bill Snyder, but haven’t tasted a bowl win in five postseason games since beating Arizona State in the 2002 Holiday Bowl.

 

It is obvious that one of my many failings is that I do not have to answer to that,” the 74-year old Bill Snyder said. “It could be a multitude of things, and perhaps it is, or maybe it’s something simple that I am overlooking. …. The bottom line is I really do not know.”

 

Kansas State was eluded victories in its last two major bowl games in the 2011 Cotton Bowl and 2012 Fiesta Bowl, but like their chances this year in the Buffalo Wings Bowl with a Wolverines team without their star quarterback.

 

After a 2-4 start, the Wildcats went on a 5-1 run to put themselves in a great bowl game after Big 12 foes Baylor and Oklahoma wound up in BCS bowls this year. They were headed for the Holiday Bowl, but Saturday’s bowl game is a step up and they plan to take full advantage of it.

 

Nobody on our team has won a bowl game, with the exception of the coaches,” junior linebacker Jonathan Truman said. “We need it. We want it really bad.”

 

Michigan (7-5) started out 5-0, but lost four of five to finish the season with four of those losses by four points or fewer, with its last loss at the heals of their biggest rival Ohio State 42-41 back on November 30th.

 

It was that game that knocked Devin Gardner out of Saturday’s contest with a turf toe injury, a big blow after their star threw for 451 yards and four touchdowns. It was that impressive showing that gave the Wolverines the nod over Nebraska, who had two more wins in the Big 10 than Michigan a spot in Saturday’s game.

 

With Gardner out, the spotlight will be on freshman quarterback Shane Morris to lead the Wolverines as he makes his first career start.

 

Obviously, we recruited him at Michigan to be the quarterback at Michigan,” coach Brady Hoke said. “This is a great opportunity. We have a lot of faith in how he goes about his business getting ready to play.”

 

With a Michigan running game that ranks 112th in the nation with a paltry 3.2 yards per carry, it will be vital for the young Morris to find success through the air to have a chance, so look for Morris to target Jeremy Gallon, who had 80 catches for 1,284 yards with nine touchdowns.

 

Kansas State will counter with Tyler Lockett who had 71 receptions for 1,146 yards and eight touchdowns to lead the Wildcats, who use a two-quarterback approach… junior Jake Walters averages 9.43 yards per attempt and sophomore Daniel Sams, who ran for 784 yards with 11 touchdowns.

 

I’ve never been a fan of having two guys at that position that play equally,” Snyder said. “But both of them are very deserving of having the opportunity to play.”

 

With Gardner out, the oddsmakers have made the Wildcats a (minus -5.0) point favorite on Saturday night, but as always, get the latest spread on the game(s) up until kickoff right here at Wonder Punter.

 

On defense, watch for Michigan cornerback Blake Countess tied for fourth in the nation with six interceptions and Kansas State defensive end Ryan Mueller who had 11 ½ sacks and a Big-12 leading 18 ½ tackles for loss.

 

It’s tough to go with a young quarterback without much game experience and without a solid running game for the Wolverines, I like and predict the Wildcats notching their first bowl win in over a decade.

 

Prediction/Pick: Kansas State

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

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NCAA Prediction Bowl Game Preview/Pick- Miami (FL) vs. Louisville

ncaa predictions hurricanes vs cardinals

Miami Hurricanes (9-3) vs. #18 Louisville Cardinals (11-1) 12/28- 6:45PM EST

 

RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL- Orlando, FL

 

Line: LOU -3.5

Over/Under: 57.5

 

In what will likely be Teddy Bridgewater’s final game in a Louisville Cardinals’ uniform as he is expected to declare for the NFL draft, he will lead his football team against the Miami Hurricanes in the Russell Athletic Bowl on Saturday night.

 

Saturday’s bowl matchup will also feature two teams that will become conference rivals as #18 Louisville will be moving into the ACC next year to join Miami.. a team that Florida native Bridgewater had originally committed to before deciding on Louisville.

 

With Bridgewater expected to be a sure top 10 NFL pick next April, the junior quarterback who was a leading candidate for the Heisman before falling off is looking to go out on top come Saturday.

 

With a 38-35 defeat to Central Florida back on October 18th and failing to throw for 300 yards in his final four games with only five touchdown passes, he saw his Heisman Trophy chances go by the wayside as he was not invited to New York as a finalist.

 

Despite his lack of production towards the end of the season, Bridgewater still finished with 3,523 yards and 28 touchdowns with only four interceptions to finish as the nation’s fifth-leading passer, but in the end couldn’t get his Cardinals (11-1) back to a BCS bowl after last year’s Sugar Bowl win over Florida.

 

This is a very talented young man. He has great command on the offense,” Miami coach Al Golden said.

 

Miami (9-3) had recruited Bridgewater successfully and had a verbal commitment back in 2010, but after the firing of then head coach Randy Shannon following a 7-6 season, Bridgewater bolted for Louisville.

 

The Cardinals have 23 Miami-area natives on their team and are thrilled to be going back home to face a Miami team of players many have played against growing up.

 

When they found out, it was like ‘We’re playing back at home again, we’re playing basically our teammates and the people that they play in high school,’” said senior defensive end Marcus Smith, a Georgia native who is the AAC defensive player of the year. “Feeling that with them is gonna be great one.”

 

Miami will be playing in their first postseason game since 2010, when the university implemented a self-imposed two-year bowl ban due to improper benefits from a booster. Former Miami assistant Clint Hurtt who was implicated in the scandal is now on the Cardinals staff.

 

Early on, the Hurricanes were a top 25 team but lost three in a row and fell out of the rankings, but now look to post their first double-digit wins since the 2003 season.

 

Our kids are excited, I think they’re grateful.” Golden said. “They’ve been through a lot the past two years, and they have not been able to have this opportunity.

 

They’re practicing with a purpose, they’re excited, and clearly they have a really tough opponent coming up.”

 

The Hurricanes feel they have a great quarterback of their own in the likes of Stephen Morris, who threw for 2,868 yards with 21 touchdowns and looks forward to matching up with Bridgewater.

 

It’d be a great challenge and a great headline for a lot people,” Morris said

 

Louisville will be moving to the ACC’s Atlantic Division next season, while the Canes are in the Coastal but are scheduled to play one another next year.

 

When we go play in the ACC next year, I think (the bowl) will put our stamp on this season, and it will tell the world that we can play with teams in the ACC and we can play with anybody,” Smith said.

 

The oddsmakers feel the Cardinals can play with the Hurricanes now as they have made them a (minus -3.5) point favorite, but get the latest lines on the game up until kickoff right here at Wonder Punter.

 

Smith finished second in the nation with 12 ½ sacks and with a Cardinals defense that ranked second in the FBS allowing only 257.9 yards per game and has been dominate against the run allowing just 86.3 yards per contest, I like and predict the Cardinals making it a happy home coming for many of its players.

 

Miami top rusher Duke Johnson suffered a season-ending injury with a broken ankle back in mid-season to make the challenge that much greater against the Cardinals defense, but expect an entertaining bowl game.

 

Prediction/Pick: Louisville

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

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NCAA Prediction Rutgers vs. Notre Dame College Bowl Game Preview & Pick

ncaa picks notre dame

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (6-6) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-4) 12/28- 12:00PM EST

 

NEW ERA PINSTRIPE BOWL- Bronx, NY

 

Line: ND -14.0

Over/Under- 53.0

 

The No. 25 Notre Dame Fighting Irish will take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Saturday in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl with hopes of closing out the season on a positive note for what has been a disappointing year to Irish standards.

 

A year ago, the Irish found themselves in the BCS championship thanks in part to a magical season that ended in a blowout loss to Alabama and this year expectations were high once again as they found themselves at 7-2 on November 2nd before dropping two out of their last three.

 

Notre Dame (8-4) fought hard at then-No. 8 Stanford in their regular-season finale back on November 30, but in the end fell 27-20, as Tommy Rees threw two picks late in the fourth quarter.

 

Not good enough obviously. Proud of the guys and my teammates and how we fought all year but you don’t come to Notre Dame to go 8-4, and everyone understand that,” said Rees. “You have to be better.”

 

The Irish have a long history of some memorable games in the Bronx going all the way to back to 1928 to as recent as 2010 when they beat longtime rival Army 27-3.

 

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly had this to say about the Irish returning.

 

We were privileged to play in New York City and Yankee Stadium in 2010. The treatment our university received from the Steinbrenner family, the New York Yankees and the entire organization was unlike anything we’ve experienced in my tenure at Notre Dame,” he said.

 

Starting next season, the Irish will be part of the ACC bowl lineup, which will include the Pinstripe Bowl, which is now four-years old.

 

Rutgers (6-6) also suffered a disappointing season losing three in a row before beating South Florida 31-6 to become bowl eligible for their eighth time in nine years. The Scarlet Knights will be moving from the AAC to the very competitive and tough Big Ten starting next year and would like a win Saturday to carry that momentum going into a new conference.

 

But, to have any chance against the Irish, the Scarlet Knights must get it together on defense where they gave up 38.0 points in their previous seven games before shutting down a woeful South Florida team.

 

The Rutgers secondary has been torched this season allowing 311.4 passing yards per game and have given up 3,596 yards through the air… the most in school history, so look for Rees to take advantage of a porous Rutgers defense where he has passed for 2,938 yards and 27 touchdowns with a 138.1 passer rating.

 

Notre Dame’s TJ Jones leads the receiving corps with 1,042 yards and nine touchdowns.

 

Oddsmakers don’t have much faith in the Rutgers defense stopping the Irish as they have made Notre Dame a huge (minus -14.0) point favorite going into Saturday’s contest, but get the latest odds up until kickoff right here at Wonder Punter.

 

Despite the sub-par seasons from both teams, expect a big crowd come Saturday as both teams are expected to draw well, especially the Irish with their fan base and the Scarlet Knights proximity to Yankee Stadium.

 

It’s a really attractive matchup,” embattled second-year Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said.

 

The Irish have won all four meetings against Rutgers and I predict an easy victory on Saturday for Notre Dame to take home the trophy.

 

Prediction/Pick: Notre Dame

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

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NFL Prediction Week 16 Sunday Night Preview/Pick- Chicago vs. Philadelphia

bears vs eagles

Chicago Bears (8-6) @ Philadelphia Eagles (8-6) 12/22- 8:30PM EST

 

Line: PHI -3.0

Over/Under: 55.5

 

Before kickoff on Sunday night, both the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles will know where they stand for the playoffs as both teams are very much in the thick of things.

 

Here’s how it works… if Dallas losses earlier in the day to Washington, the Eagles (8-6) can wrap up the NFC East title by beating the Bears, if the Cowboys win, then regardless of what the Eagles do Sunday night, the division title will be up for grabs next Sunday in the regular season finale.

 

Six weeks ago, the Eagles were left for almost dead in the division being under .500 and down to their third-string quarterback—but went on a tear winning five straight and thanks in part to Dallas giving away games, Philadelphia now has a chance to claim the NFC East.

 

When asked if he would rest his starters if Dallas wins earlier in the day.. Eagles head coach Chip Kelly had this to say…

 

We’re not in a situation where we’ve got to rest anybody,” he said. “We’ve got to play and get back on the winning track. We’ve got to be ready to play winning football.”

 

Philadelphia had won five consecutive games before last week’s surprising 48-30 blowout loss at Minnesota.

 

For the 8-6 Chicago Bears, they have Jay Cutler back and took a one-game lead in the NFC North over Detroit when they Lions lost to Baltimore on Monday night.

 

The Bears scenario is this—they will win the division crown with a victory Sunday night if second-place Green Bay loses to Pittsburgh and Detroit goes down to defeat against the Giants. Now, if only the Lions lose, it will set up a showdown between the Bears and Packers next week for the division title next Sunday.

 

The end result is this—regardless of how the Cowboys, Lions and Packers do earlier in the day, the winner of Sunday night’s matchup will have the edge for a No. 3 seed in the NFC playoffs over the other with one week left to go.

 

The only anxiety for me was depending on someone else, so now that we control our own destiny, I’m kind of at ease and really focused on Philadelphia,” receiver Brandon Marshall said. “It actually makes it easier that we’re in this position right now.”

 

Chicago was another team that seemed out of any division hopes after being swept by Detroit this season and Cutler going down with a high ankle sprain, but replacement Josh McCown kept it together going 2-2 for the Bears and the Lions struggling to pull away.

 

Cutler was back in action last Sunday to lead to Bears to a 38-31 win at Cleveland, but many believed McCown should have remained the starter. Cutler struggled early on in the game with two interceptions but finished going 22 of 31 for 265 yards and three touchdowns.

 

The guys rallied behind me,” Cutler said. “I’d be lying if I didn’t say there was (pressure) with everything on the outside and as well as Josh played. But this was our plan all along and no one really flinched in our building.”

 

With the Eagles secondary having been exposed last week to the tune of 382 yards through the air, look for Cutler to repeat the game plan with 1,000 yard receivers Marshall and Alshon Jeffery at his disposal and with running backs Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett getting it done on the ground, the Eagles will have their hands full to a team that averages an NFC-high 29.0 points per game.

 

Chicago might be one of the most talented offenses we face,” defensive coordinator Bill Davis said.

 

The Eagles will counter with a steady diet of LeSean McCoy who has rushed for 1,343 yards this season and will be facing a Bears rush defense that is an NFL-worst 152.4 yards allowed per game and 5.2 per carry.

 

The Bears are hoping to have linebacker Lance Briggs back in action to help shore up the Bears porous defense after missing the last seven games with a fractured shoulder.

 

Briggs went through a full workout in practice on Friday and is considered a game-time decision according to Trestman…

 

I’m very optimistic,” he said Friday. “Again, he practices for three days. He’s been cleared by the doctors.

 

We’ll see where’s he at. But I wouldn’t want to say that he’s gonna to play, he’s gonna start. I think that’s still 48 hours away.”

 

Briggs or no Briggs, the oddsmakers have made the home Eagles a (minus -3.0) point favorite, but get the latest lines on the game right here at Wonder Punter up until game time.

 

Nick Foles has filled in nicely for the Eagles this season in place of Michael Vick and I look for him to have another big game in prime time on Sunday, but predict a close one.

 

Prediction/Pick: Philadelphia

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

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NFL Prediction Week 16 Game Preview/Pick- New England vs. Baltimore

patriots vs ravens pick

New England Patriots (10-4) @ Baltimore Ravens (8-6) 12/22- 4:25PM EST

 

Line: BAL -2.5

Over/Under: 44.5

 

The defending Super Bowl champions have played themselves back into playoff contention after many thought they were dead in the water just a month ago.

 

The Ravens have rattled off four straight wins and now control their fate in the AFC North and can clinch a postseason berth for the six straight season with a little help from the league.

 

For the visiting New England Patriots, the formula is a lot easier… beat the Ravens and win the AFC East title for a fifth straight year.

 

Baltimore (8-6) will be in search of their fifth straight win and third in a row over the Patriots, whom they beat in the regular-season last year and in the AFC championship.

 

We’re playing our best football right now,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “We’re going to have to continue to improve with what we have in front of us down the stretch.”

 

The Ravens offense sputtered once again in last Monday night’s win at Detroit 18-16, but thanks to Justin Tucker’s leg, he connected on six field goals to bail out the offense including the game winner from 61 yards away in the final minute to set a franchise record.

 

Tucker has made 33 straight field goals dating back to a Week 2 miss at Cleveland and owns the NFL’s longest streak since Matt Stover made 36 in a row for the Ravens from 2005-06.

 

What can you say about Justin Tucker?” Harbaugh said. “When we got the ball here, I think at the 45-yard line, I said, ‘Hey, are we kicking this?’ .. He said, ‘I got it.”

 

New England (10-4) will try to earn the AFC East title once again after failing last week in a 24-20 defeat to Miami in which the offense couldn’t punch it in on four plays from the Dolphins 19 yard line with 27 seconds left.

 

We didn’t do a good job in the red area, and didn’t do a good job finishing drives,” Tom Brady said. “We came up on the short end of the stick. It wasn’t a good day. Just couldn’t make enough plays.”

 

Brady will have to rely on heavily on slot receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola with tight end Rob Gronkowski back on injured reserve with a torn ACL and MCL suffered on December 8.

 

Edelman and Amendola combined for 23 catches for 270 yards in last week’s loss. Edelman’s 89 receptions ranks fifth in the league and has helped sparked a passing game over the last six weeks where Brady leads the NFL with 2,225 passing yards with 14 touchdowns and only four interceptions in that span since November 3.

 

While the Patriots are an undefeated 7-0 at home, they have lost four of their last five on the road and with their three road wins against the likes of Buffalo, Atlanta and Houston—all last place teams with a combined 11-31 record, they understand the importance of beating a quality team on the road come Sunday.

 

They’re playing better football now then they were in the beginning of the season,” New England defensive end Rob Ninkovich said.

 

With the Ravens taking care of the ball turning it over only four times during the winning streak and a defense that has not allowed more than 26 points since a Week 1 49-27 loss at Denver, the oddsmakers have made them a (minus -2.5) point favorite at home. With a slim line such as that, it may move, so get the latest spread on the game up until game time right here at Wonder Punter.

 

The Ravens have also figured out their pass protection for Joe Flacco, where he has been brought down a career-high 42 times, but only five of those sacks have come in the last three games.

 

The Patriots have not loss back-to-back games since Weeks 3 and 4 of the 2012 season, but Sunday will be a tough challenge for them to avoid losing two in a row again. This game will be a closely fought battle, but I will give the Ravens a slight edge due to home field and predict Baltimore getting it done to win their fifth straight.

 

Prediction/Pick: Baltimore

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

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NFL Prediction Week 16 Game Preview/Pick- Pittsburgh vs. Green Bay

steelers packers prediction

Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8) @ Green Bay (7-6-1) 12/22- 4:25PM EST

 

Line: GB -2.0

Over/Under: 45.0

 

With the Green Bay Packers in control of their postseason chances thanks to back-to-back come from behind victories, they will have yet another game to play without Aaron Rodgers when the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers go into Lambeau Field on Sunday.

 

Rodgers will miss his seventh consecutive game due to a fractured left collarbone after the medical staff on Friday did not clear him to play, meaning Matt Flynn will once again get the signal-calling duties as the Packers try to keep the pace in the NFC North.

 

Although, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers looked good in practice, the team feels he needs at least another week before he can return to action.

 

Flynn has seemed to found his offensive rhythm in his last two games going 50 of 71 for 557 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions as he has brought the Packers (7-6-1) back to beat Atlanta 22-21 back on December 8 and Dallas 37-36 last week.

 

Green Bay matched their greatest comeback victory in its 93-year history when Flynn led the team to five straight touchdown drives to open the second half and stun the Cowboys at home.

 

We’re about getting ready for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but it’s an excellent team victory,” McCarthy said. “Can’t say enough about our football team, can’t say how proud I am of each and every player just to stay the course, and that’s exactly what we did.”

 

With a win on Sunday and a season-ending victory over division-leading Chicago on the road, the Packers can claim their third straight NFC North title.

 

Despite the Steelers 6-8 record, they still remain alive for a postseason berth following a 30-20 win over AFC North leading Cincinnati last Sunday night, but to get a taste of the playoffs, they will need a lot of help the next two weeks.

 

Pittsburgh must beat the Packers and Browns, then have Miami, New York, San Diego and Baltimore finish with 8-8 records for the tiebreaker to work in their favor.

 

I have said for a bunch of weeks now that there is going to be no quit from me or anybody,” said Ben Roethlisberger, who has shown great improvement over his last five games with 12 touchdowns and only one interception over that span, whereas in his first nine games, he threw 10 picks and committed 15 turnovers.

 

Look for Roethlisberger to target receiver Antonio Brown, who has a career-high 95 catches for 1,307 yards with eight touchdowns and goes into Sunday’s game with five touchdowns receptions in as many games.

 

The Steelers rushing defense has been stellar allowing fewer than 75 yards in three of their last four games, but will have to go the rest of the way without LaMarr Woodley, who suffered a strained right calf.

 

Oddsmakers have made the Packers a slim (minus 2.5) point favorite at home, but get the latest lines on the game up until kickoff right here at Wonder Punter.

 

Both teams will be playing with a sense of urgency on Sunday, but I have to give the edge to the Packers as well as they always play well at Lambeau and predict them riding the momentum of their last two wins to win again on Sunday.

 

Prediction/Pick- Green Bay

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

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NBA Playoffs: Who Survives the Loaded Western Conference? Predictions

western conference

NBA Prediction Western Conference 2013

On Wednesday, we set our sights on the playoffs by predicting which eight teams comprise the Eastern Conference playoff bracket. As a follow-up, we will now shift our focus to the Western Conference and project the eventual representatives.

 

 

The Western Conference is decidedly stronger than the East this year based on team records. As of Friday, the team in ninth overall place in the West, Golden State, boasts a record of 14-13. This record would be good enough for 4th in the East, but unfortunately places the Warriors in the lottery based on the loaded Western Conference.

 

Were the season to end tonight, the Western Conference playoff representatives would comprise, in order, of Oklahoma City, Portland, San Antonio, Los Angeles (Clippers), Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, and Denver. This current standing is a result of some unexpected early season performances.

 

Portland has been the most surprisingly upstart team of from the West so far. A balanced rotation and lethal offense has given way to a league-best 22 wins. An equally surprising playoff team, as of today, is Phoenix. Loaded with young talent and playing cohesively under first-year head coach Jeff Hornacek, the Suns appear well-suited to compete for a playoff berth.

 

It may be easier to predict the playoff representatives by eliminating the teams set on “tanking” this season. Sacramento and Utah, though they both play host to an abundance of young talent in players like DeMarcus Cousins, Ben McLemore, Derrick Favors, and Trey Burke, would be better suited to set their sights on the NBA Draft, when college phenoms Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and Julius Randle are expected to declare for the pro’s.

 

For four of the teams currently out of the playoff mix, injuries have been a source of collective misfortune. Golden State, at ninth, lost Andre Iguodala to a hamstring injury for 12 games, posting a record of 5-7. The Los Angeles Lakers, 11th with a record of 12-13, have been derailed by injuries to their entire point guard staff, and Kobe Bryant’s latest injury is sure to set them back even further.

 

New Orleans was without budding star Anthony Davis for seven days after the sophomore power forward broke his hand, and the Pelicans went 3-4 in his absence. Memphis has likely been the most unlucky team out of all of them, as they have had to play without Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol, starters Mike Conley and Tayshaun Prince, and rotational swingman Quincy Pondexter who has been lost for the season.

 

Of the teams currently outside of the playoff mix, the ones most likely to play their way out of the lottery would have to be Golden State and Minnesota. The Warriors possess possibly the most dangerous offenses led by “Splash Brothers” Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Iguodala’s return to the lineup shores up the team’s defense and allows second-year wing Harrison Barnes to return to the bench.

 

The Timberwolves have lighting it up of the offensive end, coming into Friday scoring the 3rd most PPG at 105.7. Their most apparent struggles have been on the road (5-9) and against other teams in the Western Conference (6-8).

 

As for the teams most likely to fall out of the playoff picture, Phoenix is definitely the most prime suspect. With the eighth toughest Strength of Schedule in the league, the Suns can be expected to succumb to their lack of veteran leadership, and they would also be better suited to try their luck in the upcoming draft.

 

We can say with reasonable certainty that there are five locks in the West for the playoffs: Oklahoma City, Portland, San Antonio, Los Angeles, and Houston. Assuming the Suns eventual regression, that leaves three spot for four real contenders in Dallas, Denver, Golden State, and Minnesota. Denver can probably be counted on to stumble a bit without projected starters Danilo Gallinari and Javale McGee, both of whom are without timetables for their returns. They should be able to hang on to one of the last two playoff spots, as fellow competitor Minnesota has the second toughest schedule in the NBA.

 

We’re counting on the eventual Western Conference playoff bracket consisting of, in no particular order, Oklahoma City, Portland, San Antonio, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Denver, and Golden State. Look for us to revisit these projections as the season winds on. 

 

By Austin Murphy – WonderPunter

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NFL Prediction Week 16 Game Preview/Pick- Arizona vs. Seattle

nfl picks

Arizona Cardinals (9-5) @ Seattle Seahawks (12-2) 12/22- 4:05PM EST

 

Line: SEA -10.5

Over/Under: 43.0

 

The stakes will be high for both the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks on Sunday afternoon with the Cardinals looking to stay alive for the postseason and the Seahawks looking to earn home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

 

For Seattle, the last time they accomplished that feat of home-field advantage, they reached the Super Bowl. For the Cardinals, a loss would all but knock them out of a playoff berth.

 

The Seahawks (12-2) have to be licking their chops with the possibility of playing the remainder of their games at CenturyLink Field, where they have won 14 regular-season home games since their last loss on December 24th, 2011 to San Francisco.

 

The year was 2005 when the Seahawks made their Super Bowl run in which they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

 

Here we come this week and there’s nothing new, which is a good thing. We’re going to make the most of what we got,” said coach Pete Carroll, who is striving to clinch his second division title with Seattle and the third of his career.

 

The Seahawks had a field day last week in New York against the Giants, picking off Eli Manning five times in route to a 23-0 shutout win. The Seattle defense was dominating, holding the Giants to just a paltry 181 yards… their season-low.

 

Corners Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell intercepted Manning twice last Sunday and Sherman, who has six INTs this season has shown his defensive might against the Cardinals where he has four interceptions and two fumble recoveries over his last four games against them.

 

All the guys contributed, the linebacker and everyone contributed,” Carroll said, and it’s that same contribution Carroll is looking for again against the Cardinals after the Seahawks sacked Carson Palmer seven times and picked him off twice in a 34-22 road win back in Week 7.

 

Since that home loss, Arizona (9-5) has won six of seven since, with Palmer showcasing a 106.0 passer rating during that stretch… among the best in the NFL.

 

We’re starting to get a lot confidence as a team,” Palmer said.

 

Palmer is 0-1 in Seattle having lost back in 2007 when he was with the Bengals and knows the challenge will be a difficult one on Sunday.

 

Obviously, they’re confident for a reason,” Palmer said. “They’ve won a lot of football games, they’ve won at home, but we’ve been playing well the past couple of months. It’s a big game for them, a big game for us.”

 

The Cardinals have already assured themselves a winning season, their first since 2009, but even they win their remaining games and go 11-5 during the season, they may still be left out of postseason play.

 

The last time we were there, obviously everyone knows what happened,” coach Bruce Arenas said of the Cardinals 58-0 shellacking at Seattle last year. “That wasn’t we, that was another team. So this is our barometer to see where we’re at”

 

Palmer will enter Sunday’s big game a little banged-up as he is nursing a high ankle sprain, but it’s his No. 1 target Larry Fitzgerald who may miss the game after suffering a concussion late in the Cardinals’ 37-34 overtime victory at Tennessee.

 

Fitzgerald is due to undergo one more concussion test before he is cleared to play, but Seattle has done a defensive number on Fitzgerald limiting the All-Pro receiver to just 82 yards on seven receptions over the last three matchups.

 

Throw in Russell Wilson’s undefeated home winning streak, recording a 119.2 passer rating with 29 touchdowns to only six INTs and we can see why the oddsmakers have made the Seahawks a huge (minus 10.5) point favorite at home, but get the latest lines on the game up until kickoff right here at Wonder Punter.

 

Running back Marshawn Lynch will try to find some success on the ground against an Arizona defense that has limited opponents to only 69.4 yards rushing per contest with just two scores in their last seven games.

 

Receiver Percy Harvin is questionable (hip) and cornerback Brandon Browner has been suspended indefinitely for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Browner has been out since week 10 because of the suspension.

 

The Seahawks have beaten the Cardinals five of the last seven times and I expect and predict another victory for a Seattle team that is for real this year.

 

Prediction/Pick: Seattle

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

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NFL Prediction Week 16 Game Preview/Pick- New Orleans vs. Carolina

saint

New Orleans Saints (10-4) @ Carolina Panthers (10-4) 12/22- 1:00PM EST

 

Line: CAR -3.0

Over/Under: 46.5

 

For the New Orleans Saints this Sunday, it’s simple… win and they will not only clinch the NFC South, but also the conference’s No. 2 seed and a first-round bye.

 

Problem is, they are not a very good road team, so if they lose the same exact scenario awaits Carolina in Week 17, but this time it will be the Panthers who will have the advantage at home as they will try to avenge their 31-13 blowout loss to the Saints at the Superdome back on December 8th.

 

But, for the Saints (10-4), they were not able to capitalize the following week in St. Louis when they committed three turnovers and fell behind by 24 points and lost 27-16, which knocked them back out of the driver’s seat.

 

The bigger problem is New Orleans is just a bad road team, where they have lost its fourth in five road games and that spells trouble for them come playoff time if they have to open on the road.

 

We know what we are playing for—we’re playing for the divisional championship and the two seed so it doesn’t get any bigger then that for us,” quarterback Drew Brees said. Obviously we understand our deficiencies on the road here the last couple of trips. It is great motivation for us to really hammer down this week, find ways to improve and get better.”

 

With that said, Sunday’s contest may be a make or break game for them, as the Panthers now have the momentum following a 30-20 home win over the New York Jets, but coach Ron Rivera admits his team may have been doing some scoreboard watching.

 

A few too many times, to be honest with you,” Rivera said. “I did get distracted a couple of times. .. I did hear the crowd cheer and when I looked up they showed the (Saints’) score, so that caught my attention.”

 

The Panthers (10-4) with a win will clinch the South and the NFC’s second seed with a win next week at lowly Atlanta or the Saints losing to Tampa Bay in Week 17.

 

If New Orleans can pull off the mild upset, they will lock up the No. 2 seed and will be able to rest some starters for the season-finale. For the Panthers, a loss would be damaging as they would need some help with losses by Arizona and San Francisco. The Cardinals hold the tie-breaker with Carolina by virtue of win over them.

 

Drew Brees lit up the Panthers back in New Orleans with 313 yards and four touchdowns, where he has a 122.5 passer rating, but on the road it’s a different story with a 86.3 passer rating with just a 63.4 completion percentage with seven picks.

 

Those numbers add up to 32.9 points scored at home compared to 18.4 on the road… 27th in the NFL.

 

This is not a ‘show up on Sunday and play’ sport,” tackle Zach Strief said. “So when you go on the field and put that on tape and play like we have on the road it’s absolutely concerning.”

 

With Carolina winning nine of their last ten games and having won six straight at home by an average of 18.7 points, coupled with the Saints road woes, we can see why the oddsmakers have made the Panthers a (minus -3.0) point favorite come Sunday, but remember to get the latest spread on the game up until kickoff right here at Wonder Punter.

 

Look for Panthers quarterback Cam Newton to bounce back after a sub-par performance at the Superdome and for Carolina to establish a running game where they have averaged 178.5 yards rushing.

 

In the end, I too like the Panthers to play a complete game and take it to the Saints and when asked if New Orleans was the better team after taking the first meeting, Newton had this to say….

 

Are they better then us? No.”

 

A little extra incentive for the Saints now? Maybe, but I predict the Panthers winning big on Sunday to continue their home dominance and strengthen their playoff position.

 

Prediction/Pick: Carolina

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

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NFL Prediction Week 16 Game Preview/Pick- Colts vs. Chiefs

topper-chiefs

Indianapolis Colts (9-5) @ Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) 12/22- 1:00PM EST

 

Line: KC -7.0

Over/Under: 45.0

 

With both teams already having earned postseason berths, the Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City still have an outside shot of earning first-round byes in the AFC playoffs.

 

Sunday’s game can also be a preview of an AFC wild-card matchup as these two teams look to strengthen their playoff seedings.

 

Indianapolis is the AFC South champion and with the three division leaders all losing last week in Week 15—Denver, New England and Cincinnati, the Colts could claim a first-round bye by winning the remainder of their games and Baltimore wins their final two games against the Patriots and Bengals.

 

Regardless of what happens with anyone else, we want to win the rest of our games and kind of be catching fire here at the right time going into the playoffs,” left tackle Anthony Castonzo said. “We want to be playing our best ball regardless of what happens with any other team.”

 

For the last six weeks, it’s been a roller coaster ride for the Colts (9-5) who are alternating wins and losses every week and with that lack of consistency, it may cost them come playoff time.

 

Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano says he isn’t too worried about the teams recent play over the last six weeks.

 

I just think these guys are able to move on, win or lose,” Pagano said. “They are able to put the last game behind them, make corrections that you always have and stick to the process. It’s the next game. Stick to the process. Our guys do a great job of that.”

 

The Chiefs (11-3), they were able to snap their three game losing streak with two road wins by a combined 101 points and last week with a big 56-31 rout of the Oakland Raiders on the road.

 

Running back Jamaal Charles ran wild against the Raiders with 195 yards receiving and accounting for five touchdowns to help lock up a playoff spot for the Chiefs.

 

Anytime you can clinch a playoff spot, it’s special,” quarterback Alex Smith said.

 

For Kansas City to win the AFC West and earn a first-round bye, they will need Denver to lose one of their final two games, but if they cannot catch the Broncos, the Chiefs may end a fifth seed in the playoffs and could very well face the Colts in two weeks in Indianapolis.

 

I’ll probably tell you the same thing that I told you when we played Denver, you give it the best shot your first time and then you come back, two weeks later, and give it your best shot then,” coach Andy Reid said of the possibility of facing the Colts twice. “That’s how we’ll approach it.”

 

Expect a heavy dose of Charles this week who leads the AFC in rushing with 1,181 yards and also leads the team with 65 receptions. KC is averaging 5.3 yards per carry the last five weeks and with Colts middle linebacker Pat Angerer lost for the season with a knee injury, expect the Chiefs to take advantage of running the ball.

 

Kansas City is having issues on the defensive side of the ball where they have allowed 47 plays of 20 yards or more– the most in the NFL, so look for the Colts to open it up and go long whenever possible to take advantage of that porous defense.

 

Yeah, we have to cut down on that, Reid said. “Big plays can hurt you, obviously. We’re addressing that and we’ll get it worked out. I wouldn’t get hung up on it, too much now. The final score is what you’re at, that and turnovers.”

 

As are the oddsmakers, who are looking at the final score and have made the Chiefs a big (minus -7.0) point favorite at home, but get the latest spread right here at Wonder Punter up until kickoff.

 

The Chiefs are a plus-21 in the turnover department and have a league-high 35 takeaways. Both teams are tied for the fewest turnovers with only 14 all season long with the Colts doing an excellent job of giving it away only three times in seven road games.

 

I like the way the Chiefs have turned it around after losing three straight and with them at home, I predict the Chiefs winning and avenging last years loss 20-13 to the Colts at Arrowhead.

 

Prediction/Pick: Kansas City

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter

post

NBA Prediction and Pick Thunder vs bulls

nba picks

Odds and Betting lines

TEAMS LINE BETS TOTAL BETS  
Chicago
Oklahoma City
+13
-13
34%66% 192o
192u
92%8% » Matchup Chesapeake Energy Arena Dec 19@
8:00 PM

 BET HERE

The Oklahoma City Thunder have completely dominated the Chicago Bulls over the last two months. Given the method both are actively playing heading into Thurs night’s meeting in Oklahoma Town, that trend appears most likely to keep on.

The Thunder (20-4) will become trying to extend the league’s longest energetic winning streak to eight online games. They’re averaging 110.3 factors while shooting 50.1 percent from the floor during their current run.

Oklahoma City is also the only remaining undefeated team at house, becoming the first golf club to start a season 12-0 at house since Cleveland in 2008.

Kevin Durant — who is shooting 54.2 percent from 3-stage range and 56.7 % overall during the winning streak — scored 30 in Tuesday’s 105-93 win at Denver, his league-leading 12th 30-plus stage efficiency.

“It’s a great win,” Durant mentioned after knocking off a group that had won 10 of 13. “We arrived here and defeat a team that plays nicely at home and has been playing really well since the last time we played them. Any earn on the street is hard, so we’ll get it.”

Russell Westbrook also flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 21 points, a season-high 13 rebounds and eight assists. He’s averaging 9.8 assists and 9.2 rebounds during the last six contests, giving Oklahoma City more jump in starting fast-break possibilities.

The Thunder have scored 16 points in changeover Tuesday and are usually averaging 19.0 over the last seven video games.

“It gives us an opportunity force in the crack,” said Westbrook, whose group is 6-1 when he gets at least eight assists. “It will get us into our units a great deal quicker, it gives us a chance to enjoy with a better pace, it gives me a better rhythm and it’s good for our team.”

Oklahoma City has won three directly against Chicago by an typical margin of 16.7 points, including a 102-72 home victory on Feb. 24. Durant was simply 6 of 19 from the field for 19 points, but the Bulls’ capturing percentage of 29.1 was their worst in more than nine years.

Chicago is averaging 80.3 points while capturing 34.5 percent in its final three losses to the Thunder. Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer are a combined 15 of 48 for 41 factors during that extend.

The Bulls (9-15) haven’t already been much better on offense while shedding six of seven, averaging 81.6 points on 37.8 % shooting. Their criminal offense stalled late in the third one fourth of Wednesday’s 109-94 reduction at Houston, where a 15-1 run by the Rockets that time period put the game out of achieve.

Point safeguard Kirk Hinrich missed his third straight game because of to back stiffness, but he’s anticipated to travel with the group for Thursday’s contest.

“We’re losing, therefore mentally it’s tough,” Noah said. “When you reduce, it’s not enjoyable but we need to maintain battling. The video games keep coming and nobody feels sorry for us and we can’t feel sorry for ourselves.”