2014 NBA Playoff Predictions: First Round

2014 NBA Playoff Predictions: First Round (via FanIQ)

The 2014 NBA playoffs get underway on Saturday, with four games set to kick off what is sure to be a post-season filled with plenty of drama and excitement. In the East, the top-seeded Indiana Pacers look to not only dethrone the Miami Heat as Eastern…

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


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




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


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


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


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


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


NBA Prediction and Pick Thunder vs bulls

nba picks

Odds and Betting lines

Oklahoma City
34%66% 192o
92%8% » Matchup Chesapeake Energy Arena Dec 19@
8:00 PM


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.”


NFL Predictions for week 16

Aug 4, 2013; Canton, OH, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) within the first quarter of the 2013 Pro Soccer Hall of Fame game towards the Dallas Cowboys at Fawcett Stadium. Mandatory Credit score: Andrew Weber-USA RIGHT THIS MOMENT Sports

The Armchair Quarterback’s Take Of The Week

Extra People Should Be Speaking About Miami Quarterback Ryan Tannehill

NFL followers often hear about all of the promising young quarterbacks in the league today. Andrew Luck is supposedly the second coming of anyone from John Elway to Peyton Manning. Robert Griffin III is meant to be a dynamic new type of QB that mixes great passing accuracy with elite physical instruments. Russell Wilson has taken the NFL by storm after having been handed over by many groups because of his smaller stature. Colin Kaepernick lead the 49ers to the Tremendous Bowl in his first season as a starter. Cam Newton is starting to come into his own and Nick Foles has appeared nice underneath the tutelage of Chip Kelly.

….after which there’s Ryan Tannehill.

My guess is that some of you clicked on this text not even figuring out who the person within the cowl image was. Tannehill may have been taken just a few picks behind Luck and Griffin, however when it comes to hype and publicity Tannehill has been more of a Mr. Irrelevant than future famous person (at the very least for those who don’t follow the Dolphins). However, with Miami’s win over New England final Sunday, the Dolphins are now in prime place to land the ultimate wild card spot and Tannehill deserves plenty of credit for that.

Tannehill’s rookie numbers could not have held up to the other extremely publicized rookie QBs, however in his sophomore season he has closed the hole. Under are the 2013 numbers for Luck, Griffin, Wilson, and Tannehill. Are you aware who’s who?

62.4%, 259.1 YPG, 7.zero YPA, 23 TDs, 14 INTs, 86.6 QB Ranking
58.7%, 235.6 YPG, 6.7 YPA, 21 TDs, 9 INTs, 85.2 QB Ranking
60.1%, 246.four YPG, 7.0 YPA, sixteen TDs, 12 INTs, 82.2 QB Ranking
64.7%, 219.eight YPG, 8.6 YPA, 24 TDs, eight INTs, a hundred and five.zero QB Score

These stats belong to (from high to backside) Tannehill, Luck, Griffin, and Wilson. So in their second NFL season you may make a robust case for Tannehill being the second greatest QB this season behind Russell Wilson. While Wilson deserves each bit of praise he will get, he’s also the QB on this list that has the least quantity of pressure on his passing attack. He has far and away the very best supporting solid with an elite protection and dashing attack. Tannehill (as well as Luck and Griffin) are basically being requested to hold their teams’ offenses on their very young shoulders.

Tannehill’s numbers turn out to be much more impressive while you issue in the absolutely horrendous offensive line play he has had to take care of. Via 14 games he has been sacked an NFL leading 51 instances. That equals about three.6 sacks per sport. Of the opposite sophomore QBs listed above, RGIII is the following closest in times sacked with 38. That’s nearly one entire sack much less per recreation than Tannehill.

Then there is the absolute three ring circus that the Dolphins had to endure with the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito bullying fiasco. That could have easily sent the Dolphins into a tail spin. As a substitute, the crew seems to have pulled collectively and weathered the storm. That’s fairly impressive for a staff lead by a 2nd year QB that didn’t even play QB in college till midway through his junior season.

If anyone is going to try and argue that Tannehill is benefitting from his sturdy supporting cast on offense, I’d such as you to stop and look over the Dolphins roster for a second. Tannehill’s go to WR this season is Brian Hartline and his running recreation is a combination of Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas. Mike Wallace is a pleasant deep threat and Charles Clay has developed into a nice pass catching tight end, however these guys aren’t exactly the ninety′s Dallas Cowboys at the ability positions.

Come playoff time, RGIII might be sitting at dwelling and Russell Wilson will likely be chasing a Tremendous Bowl beginning on the back of the most proficient roster within the NFL. Meanwhile, Tannehill (assuming the Dolphins can maintain onto that final playoff spot (have you ever seen Baltimore’s schedule?)) and Andrew Luck will carry the load of their groups’ playoff success on their shoulders. While Luck is basically expected to develop into a Hall Of Famer some day, you may truly make a robust case that in their second seasons Tannehill has achieved simply as much, if not more, to guide his team to the playoffs.

Yet no one is listing him amongst the NFL’s greatest younger QBs.

If Miami does make it into the playoffs and perhaps even wins a recreation I’d guess that the Tannehill bandwagon will start to change into much more crowded. In the meantime, there are plenty of seats accessible and I recommend claiming your seat now.

Now on to this week’s recreation predictions……….

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NCAA Prediction College Bowl Game Preview/Pick- Buffalo vs. San Diego State

buffalo ncaa picks

NCAA Prediction and Free Pick Bulls vs. Aztecs

Buffalo Bulls (8-4) vs. San Diego State Aztecs (7-5) 12/21- 5:30PM EST


Line: EVEN

Over/Under: 53.0




The San Diego State Aztecs will make their school-record fourth consecutive bow appearance when they meet the Buffalo Bulls in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Saturday evening.


The Aztecs (7-5) overcame a brutal 0-3 to put themselves in a position to continue building its football program under the guidance of third-year coach Rocky Long, who has maintained the programs success following predecessor Brady Hoke.


I think the team is happy and excited about going to a bowl game,” Long said.


With its fourth straight bowl game, the Aztecs have matched their total bowl appearances over the last 41 years combined and are the first team since 2010 to make it to a bowl game following an 0-3 start.


San Diego State will look to junior running back Adam Muema to carry the load as he has gained over a 1,000 yards for the second straight season, but has struggled in his last two games with only 57 yards on 36 carries.


(The lack of success) has nothing to do with Adam Muema,” Long insisted. “It has to do with our offensive line not blocking very well for the run in the last two games. But all good running backs that have a good game have to have someone open a hole for them up front.”


Senior safety Nat Berhe, a first-team all-Mountain West selection anchors the San Diego State defense that finished second to Fresno State in the conference. Berhe recorded team-highs of 59 solo tackles and 94 overall and added six passes defended with two fumble recoveries.


Buffalo (8-4) will be making its second straight bowl appearance in school history and like the Aztecs had to overcome a rough start of the season with losses to BCS-bound Ohio State and Baylor by a combined 110-33 margin.


The Bulls then turned it on with a seven-game win streak that ended when they lost their regular-season finale 24-7 to Mid-American champion Bowling Green on November 29th.


It’s been four years in the making,” coach Jeff Quinn said about his team’s bowl berth.


Expect Buffalo to use a ground attack as well, behind senior star running back Brandon Oliver, a two-time 1,000 yard rusher who has accumulated 1,421 yards with 15 touchdowns this season.


The oddsmakers have the game EVEN with Ohio State having been the common opponent for both teams. The Aztecs lost to the Buckeyes 42-7 at Ohio State, while the Bulls loss to Ohio State was much closer according to Aztec quarterback Quinn Kaehler… “I remember Buffalo played Ohio State pretty tough, a lot tougher then we did, so they have some good players on that team and especially on defense,” said Kaehler.


With a pick-em game, expect the line to maybe move, so be up to date with the latest spread right here at Wonder Punter up until game time.


This will Buffalo’s second bowl appearance since a loss to Connecticut in the 2009 international Bowl.


I too have it as an evenly matched game, but I expect both teams to play hard and with pride, but in the end will predict the Aztecs winning to take home the trophy.


Prediction/Pick- San Diego State

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter


NCAA College Football Prediction Game Preview/Pick- #20 Fresno State vs. #25 USC

ncaa picks prediction

#20 Fresno State Bulldogs (11-1) vs. #25 USC Trojans (9-4) 12/21- 3:30PM EST


Line: USC -6.5

Over/Under: 62




The USC Trojans, in an up and down season will go into the Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday against a Fresno State Bulldogs team that fell short of a potential BCS bid.


The Trojans season consisted of the firing of Lane Kiffin, then the promotion of Ed Orgeron to interim head coach, which many thought he would be named the new head coach, but losses to Notre Dame and UCLA sealed his fate and USC named former assistant and now former Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian as their new head coach.


Orgeron guided the Trojans (9-4) to winning six out its first seven games after the Kiffin firing back on September 28th, but when athletic director Pat Haden stole Sarkisian away from the Washington Huskies and gave him the head coaching title, Orgeron resigned immediately due to disappointment to pursue other head coaching interests.


USC offensive coordinator Clay Helton will coach the Trojans on Saturday, and will be the third acting coach for the Trojans this season.


However, USC believes they found the right coach in Sarkisian to lead the Trojans proud football program into the national spotlight once again.


Sarkisian spoke on his future goals with the Trojans…


Rebuilding is not a word around here. Coach O proved that,” Sarkisian said. “I understand it stings right now. Over time it will get better. I’m going to be real with those guys, and they’ll be real with me.”


The Trojans will be faced and focused on slowing down a Fresno State offense that is led by senior quarterback David Carr. The Bulldogs rank first in passing with 409.8 yards per game, third in total offense with 570.6 and fifth in scoring with 43.5 points per contest.


Fresno State (11-1) won the inaugural Mountain West Conference title game back on December 7th when they beat the Utah State 24-17, but fell short of the bigger prize, a potential BCS bowl bid, when they lost to San Jose State 62-52.


Coach Tim DeRuyter was pleased how his team bounced back to win the MWC championship following that disappointing loss.


If your only goal is to go to the BCS, why show up and play?” DeRuyter said.


USC is well aware of the passing attack the Bulldogs possess with receivers Davante Adams, who leads the nation with 122 catches and 23 touchdowns and is second with 1,645 yards receiving. Josh Harper has 79 catches for 1,011 yards and 13 touchdowns, while Isaiah Bruce chipped in with 94 receptions for 987 yards with five TDs.


Fresno State will contend with a Trojans defense that ranks 16th in the country allowing just 341.5 yards per game and was first in the Pac-12 conference giving up only 214.5 yards passing.


USC will be without their top running back Silas Redd because of a knee injury and star receiver Marqise Lee had a down year because of injuries, but the oddsmakers have still made the Trojans a big (minus -6.5) point favorite on Saturday. Wonder Punter can provide you with the latest spread on the game up until kick off.


Fresno State has lost four straight bowl games and I predict the Trojans will do enough to contain the Bulldogs offense and leave Las Vegas with a championship to end the season on a positive note.


Prediction/Pick: USC

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter





NBA Prediction Week 7 Game Preview/Pick- Pelican vs. Warriors


New Orleans Pelicans (11-11) @ Golden State Warriors (13-12) 12/17- 10:30PM EST


Line: GSW -8.0

Over/Under: 207


The Golden State Warriors, losers of their last two out of three and two in a row look to get back to winning when they host the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night.


Golden State coach Mark Jackson believes in order for that happen, they must first put in the effort and now is the time, as they get ready to open a three-game home stand.


Much of the problem with the Warriors can be contributed to turnovers due to the absence of primary ball handler Andre Iguodala who has missed the last 12 games because of a starined left hamstring.


The Warriors turnovers per game has climbed to 17.2 per game—among the worst in the league. Shooting guard Stephen Curry has been struggling in the role of playmaker as he has committed 59 turnovers in Iguodala’s absence.


In their game versus the Phoenix Suns, the Warriors committed 20 turnovers in a 106-102 defeat.


Right now the turnovers are hurting us and we are not playing 48 minutes with a sense of urgency,” Jackson said. “We came in talking about we had to be the hardest working team because this team plays extremely hard and they’re talented, and we did not do that. I’m disappointed and we’ve got to find answers, individually and collectively.”


Jackson in his frustration went on to say…. “I am finding that the guys in the suit and tie want it more than the guys in uniform.”


With Iguodala’s return still uncertain, the Warriors (13-12) are also looking to Klay Thompson to getting back to a hot hand, where right now he is shooting just 33.3 percent, averaging 15.0 points, but is just 6 of 20 from 3-point range.


The Pelicans (11-11) find themselves trying to stay afloat as well as their top player Anthony Davis recovers from a broken hand suffered back on December 1st. Guard Tyreke Evans is still out with sprained ankle as well.


The team is 3-3 in Davis’ absence and are in a second game of a five-game road trip, which concerns coach Monty Williams after Sunday’s 102-93 loss to Denver.


We just didn’t have the type of juice that you need to have on the road to win a game,” Williams said.”


The Pelicans are now 4-6 away from home and guard Jrue Holiday adds… “There are a lot games left. This is a big road trip.”


The Warriors have won five straight and seven of their past nine against the Pelicans, the oddsmakers have made Golden State a big (minus -8.0) point favorite against the visiting Pelicans, but get the latest spread on the game up until tip off right here at Wonder Punter.


Despite, the absence of Iguodala, the Warriors are still a dangerous team and I predict them winning big on Tuesday night to open their home stand.


Prediction/Pick- Golden State

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter


NBA Prediction Week 7 Game Preview/Pick- Lakers vs. Hawks


NBA Free Picks Lines & Odds Lakers vs. Hawks

Los Angeles Lakers (11-12) @ Atlanta Hawks (12-12) 12/16- 7:30PM EST


Line: ATL -5.0

Over/Under: 206


Kobe Bryant will once again will take on the ball handling duties for the Los Angeles Lakers when he leads him team into Atlanta, as they continue their four-game road trip.


With point guards Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar still all out with injuries, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni will put the ball handling duties into the hands of Bryant once again, which may be a benefit as he tries to work his way into playing shape.


We have to somehow find some wins and gut it out. It’s not pretty right now,” D’Antoni said. “We don’t have a playmaker and we’ve got to get the guys healthy and get Kobe well.”


Since his return last Sunday, Kobe has scored 20 or more points twice in four games and had 13 assists in the loss to Oklahoma City on Friday night, but he’s also had 25 turnovers since returning as he is trying to adjust to his new duties.


There is no secret formula that you can sprinkle out there,” D’Antoni said. “He’ll get more comfortable, then the guys will get more comfortable around him and then he’ll do a better job.”


Bryant had a more balanced night as he led the Lakers (11-12) to their first win since his return, with 21 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in a 88-85 win over Charlotte on Saturday night.


I don’t know what I can and can’t do, Bryant said. “I’m just trying to measure it.”


A lot of focus of late has been of the tension between Pau Gasol and D’Antoni, as Gasol has expressed his frustration playing within the D”Antoni up-tempo offense. The 13-year veteran as averaged 18.3 points throughout his career, but this season is averaging only 14.4 points with a career-low 41.8 shooting percentage. I’ve always been a fan of Gasol and believe he just needs to play ball and when given the opportunity to shoot… produce!


The Lakers defense is also suffering as they are allowing 103.5 points per game which is second-worst in the NBA, though Atlanta (12-12) is averaging just 99.6 points per game.


The Hawks are led by big-man Al Horford with 17.7 and Paul Milsap 16.5 points per game and point guard Jeff Teague is doing a nice job with a 15.9 scoring average and 17.7 assists per game. Teague has also done a nice job handling the ball with a 2.33 assist-to-turnover ratio.


The Lakers have won 10 of the last 14 meetings against the Hawks, but the oddsmakers have confidence in Atlanta getting it done on Monday night as they have made the home team a (minus -5.0) point favorite over the visiting Lakers. Get the latest spread on the game up until tip off right here at Wonder Punter.


Despite the Lakers being injury-plagued at the point guard position, I predict L.A. doing just enough to get out of Atlanta with an upset win as they continue their road trip.


Prediction/Pick- Los Angeles Lakers

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter


NFL Prediction Week 15 Sunday Night Preview- Bengals vs. Steelers


Cincinnati Bengals (9-4) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8) 12/15- 8:30PM EST


Line: CIN -1.5

Over/Under: 41.5


The Cincinnati Bengals will travel into Heinz Field on Sunday night with a chance to earn it’s third consecutive postseason berth.. a first for them in the team’s 46-year history.


The scenario is simple for the Bengals…. a win Sunday against the Steelers and a loss or tie by either the Ravens or Dolphins and Cincy is in the playoffs. If the Bengals win and Baltimore losses or ties, the NFC North title is theirs.


We’re on a roll,” linebacker Ray Maualuga said. “At the beginning of the year, we had three goals. We wanted to be undefeated at home, win the AFC North and eventually be world champions.”


But, first things first for the Bengals (9-4) and that’s winning in prime time on Sunday in Pittsburgh in hopes of extending their three game win streak that saw them beat the Browns and Colts by a combined 83-48 score, then use their defense to win at San Diego 17-10.


Much of the success for the Bengals has been a combination of a formidable pass rush defense and the offense play of quarterback Andy Dalton and the running backs. Dalton is currently enjoying the highest passer rating of his career—although it’s still a modest 87.7.


On the ground, the running back duo of BenJarvis Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard have combined for 1,282 yards with 10 touchdowns. Cincinnati is tied for ninth in the NFL with 25.7 points scored per game.


Pittsburgh (5-8) has had trouble protecting Ben Roethlisberger all year long due to various injuries along the offensive line and with the pass rushing abilities the Bengals posses, it may be a long night once again for the Pittsburgh O-line.


Big Ben’” has been sacked 39 times this season… tied for third in the league. Cincinnati got to him twice back on Sept 16 in a 20-10 home win.


We didn’t win the first game against these guys,” said Pittsburgh receiver Jerricho Cotchery. We are going to be up for the challenge. Guys are going to be ready to play.”


After a pair of close losses, the Steelers understand any chance of making the playoffs is pretty much over, but with a chance to play spoiler, Pittsburgh insists they’ll be ready to play.


Steelers coach Mike Tomlin says the team is “putting together a plan that is geared toward defeating the Cincinnati Bengals.”


Ready or not, the oddsmakers have made the Bengals a slim (minus -1.5) point favorite on the road as they look to strengthen their position for the playoffs. With a close spread for Sunday’s contest, get the latest lines in the game up until kickoff right here at Wonder Punter.


With a two-game lead in the division over Baltimore and a first-round berth within their reach, I predict the Bengals will be ready and see them leaving Pittsburgh with a big road win.


We’ve just got to take care of our business and we’ll be alright,” Bengals cornerback Adam Jones said. ”If we just win out we’ll be OK. That’s all we’ve got to do: win out and everything will take care of itself.”


I agree… prediction Bengals.


Prediction/Pick: Cincinnati



By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter


NCAA Prediction Week 14 College Football Game- #22 UCLA vs. #23 USC


Free Pick NCAA Prediction and Preview UCLA vs USC


#22 UCLA Bruins (8-3) @ #23 USC Trojans (9-3) 11/30- 8:00PM EST


Line: USC -3.5

Over/Under- 51.5


As a kid growing up in Los Angeles, cross-town rivals SC/UCLA for me has always been the best rivalry in College Football…. call it West Coast bias, me being a homer or just the simple fact that I grew up rooting for one and hating the other, or whatever? But this to me is my favorite and the best rivalry in all of sports as these two schools are set to battle on Saturday night in the Coliseum for the right to have another year of bragging rights.


Unlike most other schools in the nation who are a rivals, these two colleges are not separated by long miles or one end of the state to the other but by simply a short bus ride, which is why I feel it is so intense when these two programs get together…. in any sport to be honest. These two colleges have their die-hard fans who are loyal to one or the other just like any other ‘hard-core’ rivalries across the nation. There is no down the middle as a fan. Pick a side and that’s it! I will be rooting, yelling, booing and wearing my colors come Saturday night.


USC (9-2, 6-2) has seemed to regain it’s national prominence under ‘interim’ coach Ed Oregeron who took over for Lane Kiffin who was fired following the Trojans 62-41 thrashing at the hands of Pac-12 South champion Arizona State on national television back on September 28.


All Oregeron has done since that “black-eye” moment in the program is lead this once proud football program to a 6-1 record and brought back the pride in Trojan football.


SC is still searching for a new head coach, but I feel Oregeron has done a great job under the circumstances of the NCAA sanctions and highly-recruited standouts who were underachieving under Kiffin. They are now playing winning football games and he should be given a shot to lead the football program back to a national power.


A Trojan win on Saturday on maybe the ‘interim’ tag will be removed and he’s given a new title…. head coach. Will USC A.D. Pat Haden agree?


If it was up to UCLA coach Jim Mora, the answer would be yes, who cast his vote for Oregeron as conference coach of the year.


He gave them a real spark,” Mora said. “When you come into a situation like that where you’re an interim coach, the likelihood of being retained—at least from the outside perception; who knows what’s going on over there—it frees you up to really go after it. I voted for him for Pac-12 coach of the year. That’s what kind of job I think he’s done. I think he’s very deserving of it.”


For UCLA (8-3, 5-3), they lost an opportunity to win their second Pac-12 South title last week against Arizona State and a chance for their first Pac-12 championship… so this week against their most hated rival, they will focus on a second consecutive win over the Trojans.


USC quarterback Cody Kessler will be making his first start against the Bruins Saturday night and says this….


We know there is a lot more emphasis on this game just because of the rivalry and the tradition behind it,” Kessler said. “But we’re going to treat it just like any other week.”


USC goes in having dominated the series winning 12 of the last 14 meetings, but last year’s Bruins 38-28 win is still fresh in the minds of all the Trojans.


Getting beat. Losing. Terrible taste in our month,” Orgeron said. “Against our rival team. Not playing well. Letting down the Trojan family. Not a very good feeling.”


One big boost the Trojans will have come game time is the possibility of star receiver Marqise Lee being back in action where in last year’s game Lee caught nine passes for 158 yards and one touchdown.


According to Orgeron, Lee is a ‘sure’ bet to play on Saturday.


He’s as special as they get, Mora said. “He has all the attributes of a great receiver. He loves to compete. He can get off the bump-and-run, he can beat you deep, he can stop on a dime and run great routes. You can tell he’s not 100-percent healthy, but that doesn’t mean a lot when you’re talking about Marqise Lee.”


Injuries on the Bruins offensive line has been a problem all year and will be again against the Trojans, where they are expected to start three freshmen.


UCLA has played many freshmen all year long due to injury problems… but in the long run will pay dividends.


We’re very close. We’re an incredibly young football team,” Mora said. “We’re moving up the mountain, we just have to get more mature and that’s a process. There is no magic fairy dust you can sprinkle on a freshman and say, ‘Ok, now you’re a junior.”


The Trojan defense will have their sights set on UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley where last year as a freshman in the rivalry game he went 22 of 30 for 234 yards and one TD while rushing for two more scores.


We cannot let Hundley run the ball or throw the ball deep,” Oregeron said. We need to be great on coverage and great on our rush.”


Hundley is 214 of 315 for 2637 yards passing with 22 touchdowns. He was talked early in the Heisman conversation before falling off.


USC has won five straight games and has beaten the Bruins seven straight times at the Coliseum and with those numbers have been made a (minus) -3.5 point favorite for Saturday’s game, but be sure to check the latest spread leading up to kickoff right here at Wonder Punter.


I look forward to another great showdown between these two teams and predict the Bruins will pull off an upset in the Trojans’ backyard. My UCLA player to watch will be standout true freshman Myles Jack who plays on both sides of the ball. Jack is outstanding on the defensive side of the ball and was recently inserted into the running back position to give the UCLA running game a much needed shot in the arm.


Coach Mora will have his team ready after last weeks ‘could’ve been’ game…


You always worry after a tough loss, a real emotional loss, how you’re going to respond,” Mora said. “They just came out and went to work. They’re excited about this game.”


Me too. I expect high scoring between both schools with back and fourth action and the usual drama. But, in the end…. Prediction…. UCLA





By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter



NCAA Prediction & Pick- Aggies vs. Tigers Week 14 College Football Preview


#21 Texas A&M Aggies (8-3) @ #5 Missouri Tigers (10-1) 11/30 7:45PM EST


Line: MIZZ -4.5

Over/Under: 67.0


On Saturday night regular-season finale, the only thing standing in the way of No. 5 Missouri winning the Southeastern Conference East title is finding a way to slow down Johnny Manziel along with his 21st ranked Texas A&M Aggies in what should be a another good game.


That is the big challenge facing Missouri (10-1, 6-1), especially after last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel torched the Tigers. Win and Missouri has a date on December 7 for the SEC title game in Atlanta. Lose and the South Carolina Gamecocks would advance by virtual of beating the Tigers back on October 26.


We’re excited about playing this game,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “We’ve worked real hard to get this position. You know what, you compete for a championship, you’ve got to beat good people.”


For the Aggies (8-3, 4-3), they will have the pleasure of playing spoiler after losing big last week to another Top 25 team, the LSU Tigers 34-10.


Missouri doesn’t figure Johnny Manziel will have two bad games in a row where last week he stunk it up (in Manziel standards) completing only 16 of 41 passes for 224 yards, one touchdown, two picks and career-low 5.46 yards-per-attempt.


It wasn’t fun to get beat like that,” said Manziel. “We will see how we handle adversity. This team with a bunch of young guys—we just have to see how they bounce back.”


A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin added…


I think the guys are ready to play,” Sumlin said. “We are playing in a real season and real opponents and real games. Are we where we want to be right now? No. It doesn’t mean the sky is falling either.”


Manziel may be playing in his regular-season finale, who is expected to go Pro, so he wants to finish strong to end the season.


The sophomore sensation has been silent about his draft intentions, but it’s a safe bet that the NFL will be the next step for him.


All Manziel has done in his second season in the SEC is lead the conference in passing yards per game with 321.5 touchdown passes with 32. He also has 665 yards rushing and eight touchdowns added into the mix.


He’s such a great player,” Pinkel said. “If you watch him game in and game out, then you see the consistency oh how he plays and the way he does it. You have to contain him the best you can, and you have to score points on offense. There is nothing magic about this.”


But Manziel will have to deal with a defense that leads the SEC with 35 sacks and 18 interceptions and a defensive unit that has forced turnovers in 41 consecutive games… good for the nation’s longest streak.


They really improved from last year, obviously, and statistically lead the league in sacks,” Sumlin said. “They lead the league in interceptions too, which is an underrated stat.”


And with a Missouri running game that ranks second in the SEC with 238.0 yards a game along with their defense, the early lines have made the Tigers a (minus) -4.5 point favorite for Saturday’s contest. As the spread may change, be sure to check the latest odds here through Wonder Punter up until game time.


Revenge will be fresh on the minds of the Tigers who last year suffered a 59-29 beat down at the hands of Johnny Manziel who went 32 of 44 for 372 yards and three scores while adding two rushing touchdowns of his own on 67 yards.


That A&M win last year snapped the Tigers three game winning streak in the series.


As for the numbers, the Aggies average 45.6 points to Missouri’s 39.7 but the Tigers have the better defense yielding 19.3 to A&M’s ‘soft’ 31.2 points per contest.


A&M sophomore Mike Evans is the biggest threat with 61 catches for 1,314 yards with 12 touchdowns.


This year I expect the Tigers’ senior quarterback James Franklin to make it three-out-four years for the Missouri Tigers beating the Aggies. Franklin returned to action last week after missing time with a shoulder injury.


It’ll be just nuts because it’s Senior Night and because of how we’ve been doing this year,” said Franklin. “The fans want to come for what’s on the line.”


PICK: Missouri



By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter




NCAA Prediction Week 14 College Football Game Preview/Pick- #3 Ohio State vs. Michigan


NCAA Free Pick and Prediction


#3 Ohio State Buckeyes (11-0) @ Michigan Wolverines (7-4) 11/30- 12:00PM EST


Line: OSU -16.0

Over/Under: 57.0


This Saturday afternoon for the 110th time, No. 3 Ohio State and Michigan will get it on in Michigan’s “Big House,” in Ann Arbor and for players who are new to the rivalry…. This is what it’s all about… the best is saved for last.


Buckeyes’ defensive lineman Noah Spence was unaware just how big until he set foot on the Ohio State campus and got a taste of it.


It’s a huge rivalry even if you are a guy from out of state like me,” Spence said. “It’s everything.”


Stakes will be high for the Buckeyes (11-0, 7-0 Big Ten) ranked third in all the major polls and looking for No. 2 Florida State or No 1 Alabama to slip up and get into the BCS national championship game.


Ohio State, winners of a school record 23 straight has already earned a shot in the Big Ten championship, which is nice, but there’s another championship they are after… and the Wolverines would love nothing more then to stop them from earning a trip to Pasadena.


But this is a Michigan team that has been both sides of the spectrum this season, starting out 5-0 to begin the season and enjoying a No. 11 ranking suddenly hit a wall and have now lost three of their last four.


Scoring points of late as been an Achilles Heal of the Michigan offense. Last Saturday at Iowa, they were shutout in the second half of a 24-21 loss and in losses to Nebraska and Michigan State were held to 13 and 6 points.


Head coach Brady Hoke of the Wolverines (7-4, 3-4) says he’s confident his football team will turn it around at home against their biggest rival.


This game has always been different in some ways,” Hoke said. “Are they a good football team? Do we have to play better than we’ve played? I don’t think there’s any doubt.”


The Buckeyes have been on a roll lighting up the scoreboard in their last four games averaging 55.3 points and 597.0 yards, which has made them big favorites at a (minus) -16.0 on the road and with lines always changing, check back here at Wonder Punter for the up to minute spread until game time.


Ohio State has a powerful running game led by quarterback Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde to the tune of 314.7 yards per game… good for fifth in the nation.


All the focus will be on Hyde, who over the last six games has been on fire averaging 8.1 yards per attempt… good for 938 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns to boot.


Miller is another threat having run for 144 yards last Saturday and the week before rushing for 184 at Illinois.


It’s just striving for the best,” Miller said. “We ended the season 12-0 last year and we weren’t able to play in a bowl game or the Big Ten championship game (because of NCAA sanctions). That’s what we are striving for. (We want to) accomplish that and keep going forward, keep winning games and just make Ohio State proud.”


For Michigan to give the Buckeyes a fight and have a chance to upset them, Wolverine quarterback Devin Gardner needs to regain his form and put up some good numbers. Against Indiana, he accounted for 584 yards of offense with 503 of it through the air back on Oct. 19. However, in the four games since, he has averaged only 182.5 yards passing.


For the season, Gardner has a passing percentage of 58.7 with 2,509 yards passing with 17 touchdowns, but with eleven interceptions. Michigan will need his arm because the running game is nowhere to be found in the month of November.


He’s had some really good moments and some moments that he would rather redo if he could,” Hoke said. “I think we all of have that; I do as a head coach. There are always moments that you think about and say, ‘Maybe we should’ve done this.’ He’s been pretty resilient. He’s a guy who comes to work every day to get ready to play.”


Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer won his first rivalry game last year 26-21 avenging a Buckeyes loss the year before.


I have great respect for this rivalry—it almost makes me in awe,” Meyer said. “The respect we have come with incredible responsibility that sometimes can be overwhelming (when it comes) to what we have to do next week. So we take it very seriously.”


Ohio State has won eight out of the last nine meetings with the Wolverines, but despite their success, if they don’t win on Saturday against their most hated rivals… it means nothing.


This is the whole season, really,” safety C.J. Barnett said. “Everything is out the window, records, everything we’ve done, haven’t done—it’s all about this week.’


The Buckeyes defense goes in allowing only 18.4 points per game to compliment an offense averaging 48.7 points per game. Michigan is yielding 25.1 points per contest, while averaging 33.1 on the scoreboard.


And with that said, I see no let down from the Buckeyes on Saturday as they know they have a shot for something more then just a Big Ten title.


PICK: Ohio State



By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter


NCAA Prediction Week 14 College Football Game Preview/Pick- #1 Alabama vs. #4 Auburn


#1 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-0) @ #4 Auburn Tigers (10-1) 11/30- 3:30PM EST


Line: ALA -10.5

Over/Under: 55.0


With the biggest game of the year or perhaps ever for this in-state rivalry for both No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Auburn set for Saturday afternoon, both teams are treating this SEC showdown as “any other game.” Don’t tell the fans in hundreds of RVs who are already parked down the way from Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium a week before both teams get ready to battle that it’s “just other game.”


The let’s not give them any billboard material game is well underway between both teams…


Quarterback A.J. McCarron of Alabama says the Tigers are merely “the next team in our way,” regardless of their record.


Auburn’s H-back Jay Prosch says Iron Bowl preparation has been business as usual.


Between Alabama and Auburn, they have been the winners of the last four national championships and these teams are in a position to make a return appearance once more.


Saturday’s potential classic in the making will mark the first time these two teams have met since both being ranked in the top five since 1971 when Bama was No. 3 and the Tigers No. 5 which saw the Tide roll over Auburn 31-7.


Alabama (11-0, 7-0) controls their own destiny in pursuit of their third straight BCS title, whereas the Auburn Tigers (10-1, 6-1) will need No. 2 Florida State or No. 3 Ohio State to lose, if they can pull off a victory on Saturday.


However, the Iron Bowl winner was still need to get past either No. 5 Missouri or No. 10 South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference championship game. Tough road for all teams involved.


Alabama coach Nick Saban has his team focused to capture their third consecutive national title and fourth in five years with a one game at a time approach.


AJ McCarron echoed his coaches sentiments about their approach to each and every game.


I really don’t care what their record his,” he said. “They’re still the next team in our way trying to take what we worked for.”


Prosch agreed…. “It feels like we’ve been preparing for every other team, not really anything different,” he said. “We all know it’s a huge game and we’re going to play our hearts out, preparing like we normally do.”


Players who are recruited by either school quickly learn what it means to play in the Iron Bowl and to be part of something special.


Auburn tight end C.J. Uzomah had this to say about the rivalry…


You step on the campus and that’s the first thing you hear,” Uzomah said. “You get recruited and that’s the focal point that can define the season, like it is this upcoming season.”


The students, the fans, the RVs, the hype… “This is going to be huge.


It’s going to be the most unbelievable atmosphere I’ve ever gotten to play in,” he said.


It’s been a somewhat special season for the Tigers who put themselves in this position by a miraculous “Hail-Mary” last minute win over Georgia 43-38 back on November 16.


With early opening lines giving the Tide a (minus) -10.5 point favorite over Auburn on the road, oddsmakers believe it’s going to take more then a miracle for the Auburn Tigers to beat the Crimson Tide, but get all the updated lines for the game here at Wonder Punter up until kickoff.


Coach Saban is a master at keeping his teams poised and focused for the next task at hand and following the Chattanooga game last Saturday said this…


Our focus obviously needs to immediately shift to the opportunities that we have created for ourselves and the games that we have in the future,” Saban said. “Obviously the one that we have this week coming up against Auburn is a very important game. They have a great team. They’ve had a great season.


It’s going to be important for everybody in our organization to make a commitment to doing their very best job to play their best football, because that’s probably what’s it going to take to have success against a very good team.”


Alabama had Iron Bowl victories in 2012 and 2011. The Tigers last victory over Bama was in their national championship year in 2010 when Cam Newton rallied the Tigers to victory 28-27.


Both teams have a well balanced offensive attack with strong running games—Bama with sophomore T.J. Yeldon with 164 rushes for 1022 yards and 12 touchdowns and the Tigers with junior Tre Mason with 208 carries for 1153 yards with 17 touchdowns.


It’s the defensive side of the ball for Alabama that is impressive, where their stingy defense has allowed only 9.3 points per contest.


It’s going to be a good one and may be closer then the spread indicates, but in the end… Alabama will prevail.


It’s definitely good because when you have something to play for, you just have a lot of motivation to play your best,” Tide receiver Kevin Norwood said. “ And we know they are going to play their best.”


Alabama to me is just a well coached and well disciplined football team. And let’s not forget how great of a quarterback A.J. McCarron is. He doesn’t get all the Heisman Trophy hype like most of the QBs in the nation get because he doesn’t put up the outrageous numbers…. all he does is win football games and national championships. McCarron is 190 of 277 with 2,399 yards passing with 23 touchdowns.


PICK: Alabama



By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter


NBA Predictions and picks for wed

Necessary Credit score: Eric P. Mull-USA RIGHT NOW Sports

Prediction tracker: 25 for forty seven (capturing 53%)

Part one: Wednesday evening NBA sport predictions (Nov. 27)

Indiana @ Charlotte – The thirteen-1 Pacers are the safe wager, but the Bobcats have so much to show each night time. The Bobcats may stun the Pacers, but it is unlikely. Pacers win ninety nine-ninety eight.

Philadelphia @ Orlando – Nice matchup between 76er rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams and Magic veteran level guard Jameer Nelson. Nelson’s stats aren’t mesmerizing, however he gets the job executed. Magic win a hundred-ninety five.

Memphis @ Boston – The Grizz misplaced two games at home after sweeping their California highway journey. The Celtics have won their final two video games after going on a six sport losing streak. Who’s hungrier? Grizzlies win 103-ninety two.

LA Lakers @ Brooklyn – Last evening, Brooklyn received its first game in 11 days towards the Raptors. The Nets scored one level in the remaining five minutes to win by two, however a win is a win. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will not let the Lakers beat them at house. Nets win 96-91.

Miami @ Cleveland – I ponder how many Cleveland fans shall be feeling the holiday cheer with LeBron James in town. This sport is on ESPN at 7:30 pm ET for a cause. Kyrie Irving is great, but it will likely be a small miracle to beat the Warmth with Dwyane Wade and James enjoying effectively. Warmth win a hundred and ten-ninety seven.

Chicago @ Detroit – The Pistons are higher than their 6-8 record suggests. With out Derrick Rose within the lineup for the Bulls, the Pistons have the upper hand. Pistons win 104-ninety eight.

Atlanta @ HoustonJames Harden is a recreation time resolution, however Jeremy Lin is an effective substitute if Harden stays out. The Rockets are first in scoring and third in rebounding, which offsets their poor defense. Rockets win 115-110.

Read The Original Article


NFL Prediction – Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore Week 13 Thursday Night Game Preview/Pick


Pittsburgh Steelers (5-6) @ Baltimore Ravens (5-6) 11/28- 8:30PM EST


Line: BAL -3.0

Over/Under: 40.5


With the Pittsburgh Steelers playing their best football of the season, which for many of their fans was long overdue, they are still on the outside of the AFC playoff picture…. But then again, it seems like every other team in the AFC is as well, as they set their sights on Thanksgiving night to pay a visit to their archrival Baltimore Ravens, a team that’s essentially in the exact same position, and wondering what’s going on in the wild AFC?


The Steelers and Ravens are two teams that are among the half-dozen in the conference currently tied for the final wild-card berth, making Thursday night’s game a potentially season-altering contest with just five weeks left.


“That team is hot,” Ravens running back Ray Rice said of the Steelers. “They’re playing good football right now. They have (a) group, they have their stable of how they want to play football and they’re doing a good job of it right now.”


Pittsburgh and Baltimore are tied with Tennessee, San Diego, New York Jets and Miami for the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC, though Tennessee would make the cut currently if the playoffs started today. The top two tiebreakers for the wild card are determined by their head-to-head records and winning percentages within the conference. With Baltimore having already lost in Pittsburgh, the Ravens may be playing a sense of urgency come Thanksgiving night.


“They are a tough team, we have to go into their place and look forward to a good battle,” said Steelers wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery. “There is a lot on the line with this game like it always is when we play them. It always seems like whenever either team is trying to get somewhere, the other is in their way.


“It’s that way this week as we are battling in the division and it’s going to be a good game Thanksgiving night.”


Pittsburgh (5-6) winners of three-straight, all by double-digits have stepped it up and during the stretch and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been playing just about mistake-free football, completing 63.3 percent of his passes while throwing seven touchdowns with only one interception.
Roethlisberger on Sunday threw for two scores in a 27-11 win at Cleveland in Week 12, but it was the Steelers’ defense that really impressed with their performance as they responded with a season-high five sacks, held the Browns to just 55 rushing yards, and cornerback William Gay sealed the win in the fourth quarter with a 21-yard interception return for a touchdown.


“Defensively, it was simple. We were able to stop the run, and that put us in position to apply pressure to the quarterback,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. “In doing so, we were able to create some turnovers and some big plays, and to actually score.”


Since the New England debacle in which the Patriots took the Steelers apart for 8.59 yards per snap in a 55-31 blowout on Nov. 3rd, the Steelers have given up just 4.97 yards per play. So, the Steelers have to feel good about going against the Ravens defense which averages just 4.54 yards per play… a ranking of a dismal 31st in the NFL.


When the teams first battled on Oct. 20 at Heinz Field, the Pittsburgh defense held the Ravens out of the end zone until Baltimore tied the score at 16 with 1:58 to play. Not to be outdone, Roethlisberger then drove the Steelers down the field, setting up Shaun Suisham for the game-winning 42-yard field goal.


Close games is nothing new to these two teams since the start of the 2009 season, where eight of the team’s nine matchups have been decided by exactly three points.


And it’s that three point difference that is the difference once again as oddsmakers have given the home Ravens, where they have really shut down teams a (minus) -3.0 advantage, but with a close opening line, be sure to check back here through Wonder Punter for the latest spread up until kickoff.


Baltimore (5-6) is also coming off of a dominating defensive win of their own having knocked off the Jets 19-3 on Sunday. The Ravens’ pass defense was stingy, allowing Geno Smith to compete just 40.9 percent of his passes and Baltimore cornerback Corey Graham had a pair of interceptions.


“In the end, we just felt like let’s win a game just for the defense, for us,” cornerback Lardarius Webb said. “Not nobody else, just defense let’s go out and try to win a game on our own.”


The Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium have been stellar where they are 4-1 at home, allowing just 10.8 points per game in those home games.


But the Steelers have to feel pretty good about going into Baltimore who have won three of their last five visits to Baltimore, including a 23-20 win last December with Charlie Batch filling in for an injured Roethlisberger. Since 2009, the Ravens have lost only five of their other 42 home games.


Playing on a short week, don’t expect too many surprises in this important game from these two teams as they both know each other all to well.


“We’ll be running stuff that we know and understand against a team that we pretty much understand,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “I’m sure there will be a wrinkle or two that they’ll throw at us that we’ll have to be ready for and just go play football.”


Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco would prefer his team not use the wildcat formation, and prefers to be the one calling the signals at all times, whereas the Ravens utilized backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor in the wildcat offense often against the Jets. Taylor took five snaps and lined up as a receiver on seven other plays.


Flacco was is not to pleased with the offense being messed with.


“I don’t like that stuff. … I’m the quarterback,” Flacco said. “I want to be behind the line of scrimmage, I want to be taking the snaps.”


I was a big fan of the Ravens last year and this season as well but the offense is just not where it needs to be… wildcat or not. They do play well at home, but Pittsburgh has no problem playing in M&T Bank Stadium and are in a grove. With that said… I predict a close game as these two teams have played the last nine times, but I like the Steelers to win on Thanksgiving night. Pittsburgh… who were one the league’s worse has done a complete 360 degree turnaround from the beginning of the season to put themselves into playoff contention.


PICK: Pittsburgh

By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter





NFL Prediction Week 13 Thursday Game Preview/Pick- Oakland vs. Dallas


NFL Free Pick & Prediction Raiders vs. Cowboys


Oakland Raiders (4-7) @ Dallas Cowboys (6-5) 11/28- 4:30PM EST


Line: DAL -9.5

Over/Under: 46.5


What’s a Thanksgiving Day without “Americas Team” on television? And this time against the hated Oakland Raiders and their following… “Raider Nation” as we like to call them. Can the Dallas Cowboys sustain the momentum they earned over their division rival New York Giants on Sunday when they won with a 24-21 dramatic last second victory?


Dallas is back above the .500 mark and tied atop the who-ever-wants-it NFC East, and going in on Thursday against a team people love to hate, the Cowboys seem to have a good chance to keep making strides in a division that has become a two-team race now between them and the Philadelphia Eagles (6-5) when they host an Oakland Raiders team that has struggled on the road and to be quite honest… has struggled period.


The Cowboys are now two weeks removed and have seemed to recover from a 49-17 thrashing and embarrassing loss to the New Orleans Saints on Nov. 10. Dallas (6-5) in coming off their bye week, pulled out a 24-21 road victory Sunday over a New York Giants team which had won four straight and seemed poised to get back into a what has been weak NFC East division this year. The Cowboys blew a 15-point lead in the second half but Tony Romo proved he can bring a team back as he led the offense downfield to set up Dan Bailey on 35-yard field goal as time expired.


“The teams that are able to put that one (bad loss) aside and come back and go win the next game and put their best foot forward, those are the ones that play at the end of the year,” coach Jason Garrett told the Cowboys’ official website.


“It’s a long season. Games go a lot of different ways over the course of 16 games. You’ve just got to keep going.”


It’s been an up and down year for the Cowboys who in every game after they have won to climb above .500, lost the next, which have all been on the road.


Home, like most teams is where they have success as they are averaging an NFC-high 34.6 points at home this season while going 4-1.


“You move on to the next one,” said tight end Jason Witten, who had two touchdown receptions Sunday. “That was a big win, but they just get bigger. For our football team, that’s what it’s all about is focusing on this and saying, ‘We’re one game above .500, we’ve got a long way to go.’ Get to 7-5, and that’s the only thing we can think about right now.”


The Cowboy’s defense has been anything but good this year, but they did enough to give Tony Romo the opportunity to engineer a pair of lengthy final drives in each of Dallas’ last two victories over the Vikings and Giants.


Against Minnesota, Romo capped a nine-play, 90-yard drive with a 7-yard TD pass to DwayneHarris with 35 seconds left in a 27-23 home win over the Vikings on Nov. 3. Then, this past Sunday against the Giants, Romo led the Cowboys 64 yards on 14 plays over the final 4:45 to set up Bailey’s winner and all but knock the Giants out from any further playoff talks.


“I think you either feel comfortable in those situations or you don’t,” said Romo, whose 107.1 passer rating in the fourth quarter ranks second among 28 quarterbacks with at least 60 attempts.


“Just through all the experiences and all the times you’ve put yourself in that position as a team, and we feel good.”


With Cowboys lacking a running attack where they rank 29th averaging only 79.7 rushing yards per game, having DeMarco Murray back the last two games running the ball has given them a shot in the arm. Murray ran for 107 yards on Sunday versus the Giants and has averaged 5.8 yards per carry while recording 175 yards with a touchdown in the last two games, which is good news leading into Thursday’s game against the Raiders.


Other then the reliable Witten, Romo will have receivers Dez Bryant and Myles Austin as offensive weapons for his liking which will put plenty of pressure on the Raiders’ secondary.


The Raiders (4-7) defense has allowed an average of 122.6 yards on the ground while going 1-4 away from home and going into Houston had dropped eight straight road games before pulling out a 28-23 victory over a Texans team that is just having a nightmare of a season and is now stuck in a nine-game losing streak.


On Sunday, the Oakland defense failed them again at then end. They held Tennessee’s Chris Johnson to 73 yards on 20 carries, but when it counted in the final minutes, let the Titans go 80 yards on 14 plays in 6 minutes to score a touchdown with 10 seconds left and hand the Raiders a 23-19 home defeat.


“We don’t have a lot of time to sit around and wallow in self-pity,” said coach Dennis Allen, whose team has suffered three four-point defeats this season.


“We’re extremely disappointed in the loss, but we’ve got a game to play, and we’ve got to get ourselves ready to play the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day and that’s really where the majority of our focus has turned to now.”


For me personally, it was a typical Raider loss for a team that has failed to make the playoffs, let alone finish at .500 since their Super Bowl loss in the 2002 season. Ill advised penalties and being undisciplined has been the signature calling card for as long as I can remember for the Raiders’ franchise.


With Dallas going in as a big (minus) -9.5 point favorite at home, not many people who bet the spread are giving the Raiders a chance on the road… myself included, but let’s see how much the spread changes leading up to kickoff which you can check right here through Wonder Punter.


Expect Raider rookie Matt McGloin to make his third straight start on Thursday as he has thrown for four touchdowns and one interception in two games since Terrelle Pryor sprained his knee in a loss to the Giants. Pryor was given the green-light to play last week but served as the backup, and reports indicate will be watching from the sidelines again this week.

There is some good news for the Raiders however, that they could have running back Darren McFadden back in action this week after he missed the last three games with a hamstring injury. Backup Rashad Jennings has filled in well in place of McFadden averaging 5.7 yards per carry and 103.3 per game in his last four Raider starts.


One Raider question mark is it’s uncertain if McGloin will have Denarius Moore as a throwing option as he is still battling a shoulder injury and may miss his second straight contest.


The Raiders at 4-7 sit in last place in the AFC West.


Dallas has some players in question as well with linebacker Sean Lee possibly missing his second consecutive game with a hamstring injury. The same injury could force cornerback Morris Claiborne to sit out as well. Not good news for a defense that has failed to live up to expectations this season so far.


The Cowboys have enjoyed success on Thanksgiving where they are 28-16 and one tie. Oakland fell to 3-3 on turkey day with a 24-7 loss at Dallas in 2009. In that matchup, Romo threw for 309 yards with two touchdowns and Witten caught five balls for 107 to help the Cowboys’ snapped a three-game skid against the Silver and Black.


Both the Cowboys and Raiders have found ways to lose games this year, and as much as I would like to think the Raiders will find a way to surprise me and most of America, my prediction is to go with Dallas at home. Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to this one.


PICK: Dallas


By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter 




NFL Prediction & Preview/Pick- Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore Week 13 Thursday Night Game


Pittsburgh Steelers (5-6) @ Baltimore Ravens (5-6) 11/28- 8:30PM EST


Line: BAL -3.0

Over/Under: 40.5


The Pittsburgh Steelers are playing their best football of the season, but are still on the outside of the muddled AFC playoff picture. With a Thanksgiving night visit to their archrival Baltimore Ravens, they face a team that’s essentially in the exact same position.


Both AFC North teams are among the half-dozen teams in the conference currently tied for the final wild-card berth, making this game a potentially season-altering contest.


“That team is hot,” Ravens running back Ray Rice said of the Steelers. “They’re playing good football right now. They have (a) group, they have their stable of how they want to play football and they’re doing a good job of it right now.”


The two teams are tied with Titans, Chargers, Jets and Dolphins for the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC, though Tennessee would make the cut currently. The top two tiebreakers for the wild card are head-to-head record and winning percentage within the conference, and with Baltimore having already lost in Pittsburgh, the Ravens may be especially desperate Thursday.


“They are a tough team, we have to go into their place and look forward to a good battle,” said Steelers wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery. “There is a lot on the line with this game like it always is when we play them. It always seems like whenever either team is trying to get somewhere, the other is in their way.


“It’s that way this week as we are battling in the division and it’s going to be a good game Thanksgiving night.”


Pittsburgh (5-6) has won three games in a row, all by double-digits. During the stretch, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been mostly mistake-free, completing 63.3 percent of his passes while throwing seven touchdowns to just one interception.


Roethlisberger threw for two scores in a 27-11 win at Cleveland in Week 12, but the Steelers’ best performance came from their defense. The unit had a season-high five sacks, held the Browns to just 55 rushing yards, and cornerback William Gay sealed the win in the fourth quarter with a 21-yard interception return for a touchdown.


“Defensively, it was simple. We were able to stop the run, and that put us in position to apply pressure to the quarterback,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. “In doing so, we were able to create some turnovers and some big plays, and to actually score.”


The Steelers have given up just 4.97 yards per play during their streak after New England shredded them for 8.59 per snap in a 55-31 loss Nov. 3, and they could have another good chance to shine Thursday. The Ravens’ offense ranks 31st in the NFL, averaging just 4.54 yards per play.


When the teams met on Oct. 20 at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh held the Ravens out of the end zone until Baltimore tied the score at 16 with 1:58 to play. Roethlisberger then drove the Steelers down the field, setting up a game-winning 42-yard field goal from Shaun Suisham.


That close contest was hardly an exception to the rivals’ recent matchups. Since the start of the 2009 season, eight of the teams’ nine meetings have been decided by exactly three points.


Baltimore (5-6) also is coming off of a win dominated by its defense, having knocked off the Jets 19-3 on Sunday. The Ravens’ pass defense was outstanding, allowing Geno Smith to compete just 40.9 percent of his throws, and Baltimore cornerback Corey Graham had a pair of interceptions.


“In the end, we just felt like let’s win a game just for the defense, for us,” cornerback Lardarius Webb said. “Not nobody else, just defense let’s go out and try to win a game on our own.”


The Ravens have been a much better team this season at M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore is 4-1 at home, allowing just 10.8 points per game in those contests.


The Steelers have won three of their last five visits to Baltimore, though, including a 23-20 win last December with Charlie Batch filling in for an injured Roethlisberger. The Ravens have lost only five of their other 42 home games since 2009.


And it’s with that impressive home record and the way they play in their own stadium that the oddsmakers have made the Ravens a slim (minus) -3.0 point favorite on Thanksgiving night. With a tight opening spread, be sure to check back here through Wonder Punter for the latest lines up until game time.


Though having such an important game on a short week makes for potentially challenging circumstances, the two sides won’t have to go through much new information.


“We’ll be running stuff that we know and understand against a team that we pretty much understand,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “I’m sure there will be a wrinkle or two that they’ll throw at us that we’ll have to be ready for and just go play football.”


There’s one wrinkle Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco would prefer his team not employ, however. Baltimore used backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor in the wildcat often against the Jets, with Taylor taking five snaps and lining up as a receiver on seven other plays.

Flacco was not a fan.


“I don’t like that stuff. … I’m the quarterback,” Flacco said. “I want to be behind the line of scrimmage, I want to be taking the snaps.”


As much as I love the Ravens at home, they have been struggling offensively this season. The Steelers are in a grove and with that said… I predict a close Steelers victory on Thanksgiving night. Pittsburgh has done a complete 360 turnaround from the beginning of the season.


PICK: Pittsburgh



By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter