April 13, 2012

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UFC on Fuel Predictions

By: Junior

Regardless of my 2-8 record picking UFC fights, I refuse to give up on my goal of havinga successful UFC predictions blog post. So after a month off, I am back to tackle yet another UFC card.  You may be thinking I waited for a card where I was more familiar with the fighters to give myself an edge. Quite the contrary, this isn’t even a PPV event, so the likely hood of my knowing these fighters is actually slimmer. I relish the challenge. Here is my 3rd installment of uneducated UFC predictions.  

Alexander Gustafsson vs. Thiago Silva

As always, we start with the main event. Thiago Silva (14-2) and Alexander Gustafsson (13-1) both come into this fight with solid records. Gustafsson has a major size advantage, standing at 6’5” to Silva’s 6’1”, each weighing 205. I usually prefer to go with submission fighters like Gustafsson, but my gut is telling me to take Silva. He has a solid striking and submission combination and I think that will be the trick to take down Gustafsson.

Brian Stann vs. Alessio Sakara

I have never watched either of these fighters, but I am pretty sure this is going to be my type of fight. First, and quite possibly foremost, they have solid nicknames. Brian “All American” Stann is a bit used, but when you think of how it would be announced, it would sound pretty cool. Then you have Alessio “Legionarius” Sakara, which is simply great. The real reason I think it will be a great fight is these two are simply strikers. At 185 pounds each, fatigue shouldn’t be a factor, leaving us with a wild slugfest. I like Stann in this fight, because I think he packs a little more in his punches.

Paulo Thiago vs. Siyar Bahadurzada

This seems like the hardest fight to predict on this card. (Who am I kidding, I’m 2-8, there is no easy pick for me.) Looking at the statistics and information at hand, I don’t see anything that really sets either apart. Siyar “The Great” Bahadurzada has more fights under his belt, but he doesn’t excel in any one area. Paulo Thiago is a pretty good submission fighter, who can take punches, which he will need to be able to do against The Great. I am going with the more experienced fighter here and taking Bahadurzada to test Thiago’s chin early and often.

Dennis Siver vs. Diego Nunes

If this were a movie, Dennis Siver looks like he was cast to play the villain, and Diego Nunes looks like the young hero. Nunes is the greener opponent, having fought in 8 less fights than Siver, but he has only 2 less wins. Both fighters are around 145 pounds, but Siver just looks bigger. Siver will look to use that size and his striking ability to wear down Nunes, especially if he can take him to the ground. Nunes needs to keep this fight off the mat if he wants to win and make Siver move. I think Nunes finds a way to get the win.

Demarques Johnson vs. John Maguire

Demarques “Darkness” Johnson just looks like a fighter. John Maguire, not so much. Regardless of looks, Maguire is 17-3 and is dangerous when he takes you to the ground. Johnson wants to keep this fight upright, where he can use his length to his advantage. If it goes to the ground, however, it won’t be a lost cause for Johnson, who can hold his own in the submission category. I think Johnson takes this fight because I think he is more of a complete fighter and can win this fight no matter how it is fought.

April 11, 2012

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NHL Playoffs – Western Conference First Round Predictions

By: Junior

The NHL playoffs begin tonight, considered by many to be the best playoff atmosphere of any sport. Each first round series has a compelling storyline and even the 8th seeds have a shot at advancing. So who will win each series? That is exactly what I will tell you in the following predictions. We start with the Western Conference.

Which teams will advance past the first round on their quest for the Stanley Cup?

Western Conference

 

(1)Canucks vs. (8)Kings

These two teams split their season series, which is about how easy this pick is to make. The Kings have been one of the best defensive teams in hockey this season, and I am not a big fan of Roberto Luongo in the Playoffs. There are big injuries on both sides: Daniel Sedin may not be ready for the Canucks, while Jeff Carter might not go for the Kings. Both are key players for their teams and will impact this series greatly. The Canucks are the deeper team, and with injuries a big factor, I like them to advance.

Prediction: Canucks in 5.

 

(2)Blues vs. (7)Sharks

The Sharks have been one of the bets playoff teams in the NHL the past few seasons, and will look to continue that streak as an underdog this series. They might find that hard against the Blues, who swept the regular season series. The Blues allowed the fewest goals in the regular season and have two solid goalies ready to take the net. The Sharks were brutal on the penalty kill and will need Annti Niemi to step up big if they want to pull the upset.

Prediction: Blues in 6.

 

(3)Coyotes vs. (6)Blackhawks

Another weird 3vs.6 matchup where the 6 seed scored more points than the 3 seed. Regardless, the Coyotes have home-ice and a goalie who has been playing lights out lately in Mike Smith. The Blackhawks, on the other hand, are waiting to see if captain Jonathan Toews will be able to return to the ice for this series. The Blackhawks are the deeper team, yet Smith and the Coyotes have more of a chance than many people will give them credit for.

Prediction:  Blackhawks in 6.

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(4)Predators vs. (5)Red Wings

Jimmy Howard vs. Pekka Rinne. This series will test both these solid goaltenders and will rest heavily on their shoulders. The Predators have a lot of pressure to succeed after the moves they made this season. They can’t be excited to have to advance against the Red Wings, who are finally back healthy. A lot of people are picking the Predators to win, but while they have home ice, I think the Red Wings have a chip on their shoulders because of this sudden underdog role they are being cast in.

Prediction: Red Wings in 7.

(To read our Eastern Conference First Round predictions, click here.)

November 4, 2011

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NFL Predictions: Week 9 Fantasy Picks

By: Rick Jarrell

Was Drew Brees on the football field Sunday? Didn’t feel like it. Honestly, I’m not that surprised the Rams beat the Saints. There are no actual facts to back up this theory, but sometimes teams that blow up offensively one week don’t perform the next game. It happens in football, basketball, and baseball. Whether the team grows overconfident in their abilities and slacks off, is tired from the week before, or something else, I don’t know. It just seems to happen more often than it should.

Brandon Pettigrew was a disappointment, too. I had high expectations for him last week, and the entire season, but he just hasn’t performed. If you can’t capitalize in that high powered offense when the opposing secondary is focusing on Calvin Johnson, you’re not worth a starting spot on a fantasy team.

Detroit’s defense had a good game, though, thanks to Tebow performing like many of us expected. He’s a good guy, and you want him to win based on personality alone, but I’m worried he’s not a pro caliber quarterback.

Adrian Peterson performed, well, too, as he always does. But he didn’t blow the roof off, like you’d expect. Part of the problem was the Vikings went down early to the Panthers and had to throw more than they’d like. Still, Christian Ponder used a lot of check-down passes to Peterson, recording a TD on that end, too.

Not a bad week overall… on to Week 9 picks.

Matt Forte

Forte has been tearing it up this year, and will certainly be paid in the offseason (unless the Bears slap the Franchise Tag on him). Sunday he faces the Philadelphia Eagles, who I see as playing strong the rest of the season after they had the bye to get situated.

The Eagles defense shut down Tony Romo and the Cowboys, but their offensive “forte” is the passing game, and with Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie patrolling the secondary off of a bye, it’s easy to see why the Cowboys offense stalled.

The Bears “forte,” though, is Forte. The Eagles’ frontline has not performed well this season. Look for the Bears to feed their workhorse back (and potentially Marion Barber if he plays) plenty.

There’s also a good chance Jay Cutler throws a few picks, but that’s always on the table.

Arian Foster / Ben Tate

I presume Foster will get the bulk of the carries now that he’s healthy, but you never know, so I include Tate here. The Browns have had a tough time stopping the run this year, as the secondary is responsible for keeping them in games. There’s a good chance both these guys score Sunday in Houston, and a decent chance the Texans eclipse 30 points.

Oakland Defense

I’m going to continue to pick on Tebow here, and say that Oakland will have a solid defensive game. Despite losing Asomugha in the offseason, the defense remains the strong suit of the team. Their defensive line is strong and will surely pressure Tebow like Detroit’s big line did last week.

Denver Defense

Staying in the same game, I’ll now pick on Carson Palmer. I’ll dismiss his three interception performance two weeks ago – he was only with the team for a few days, and had spent the entire season throwing to high school kids until he was traded from Cincinnati. But Palmer has not been the top tier quarterback he once was since he blew out his knee in the playoffs.

Last year he had a fairly solid fantasy season and qualified as a top ten quarterback. But I find it hard to believe, even with a bye week to catch up, that he’ll be able to hit the ground running for the Raiders. They’ll likely feed Darren McFadden and Michael Bush and limit Palmer’s impact. If Tebow manages to work some of his intangible magic and jump to a significant lead, and Palmer’s forced to perform, look for pick city.

October 27, 2011

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Division Races Heating Up

By: Joe Williams

It’s seven weeks into the NFL season, and the division races are starting to take shape. NFL teams like Buffalo and Detroit have thrown their hats in the ring, and others like St. Louis and Indianapolis have played their way out of it. Here’s where we stand:

AFC EAST

It was supposed to be a battle between the Jets and Patriots, but the Bills have made it a three team race. New England’s only loss came at the hands of the Bills and their New Year’s Day rematch ought to have playoff implications. Buffalo has a few games against NFL teams at the bottom of the standings and two meetings with the Jets, so the schedule sets up well for them to stay in the race. The next month will be critical for the Jets. They play the Bills twice and New England once. One of these teams is going to be watching at home in January.

AFC NORTH

Cleveland and Cincinnati are hanging around. This is the only division with no NFL teams below .500. Wins against New England and Baltimore in the next two weeks would put the Steelers in the driver’s seat in the AFC. Things are going to get much more difficult for the Bengals with two games left against both Pittsburgh and Baltimore. We’re about to find out what this team is made of. Nov. 6 at Pittsburgh is the game of the year for the Ravens. If they can beat the Steelers for a second time, the division should be in their controls. The Browns are in the conversation at 3-3 but they haven’t beaten anyone worth bragging about. Can they steal a couple against the big boys?

AFC SOUTH

All it took was one injury for the Colts to go from AFC South dominance to one of the worst teams in the league. Someone is going to take advantage and after Sunday’s beat down of the Titans, it looks like it will be Houston. The schedule sets up nicely for them with most of their tough games already behind them. If Tennessee can get back on track, the New Year’s Day rematch could be huge.

AFC WEST

As usual, the Chargers are the heavy favorite in the West. And as usual, they let the rest of the West hang around. They host the Chiefs on Halloween in a must-win for Kansas City. The Chiefs really have to win the next three to stay in the race because they have a brutal five-game-stretch coming up. If the Raiders can get their act together during the bye week and get Carson Palmer ready to go, the West title may be on the line when they meet in the last game of the season.

NFC EAST

There will be lots of entertaining games between now and week 17, but it almost seems like we can just skip ahead to the last day of the season when Dallas is at the Giants and Philadelphia hosts Washington. That’s when this division will be sorted out.

NFC NORTH

The Packers have already got people talking about a 16-0 regular season. It’s probably not going to happen, but as long as Rodgers is healthy, they should win the North division. Detroit still has two shots at the defending champs though so they could make things interesting. Chicago is too far back to catch Green Bay but the Bears will be in the thick of the wild card race.

NFC SOUTH

The Falcons, Saints, and Bucs won a total of 34 games last year. They are on a similar pace right now, and, just like last year, one of them is going to get left out of the playoff picture. New Orleans has a one game lead and the last two at home, so they should have an edge. It could come down to which team gets knocked off by Carolina in the last month of the season.

NFC WEST

San Francisco has five wins. The rest of the division has three. It is the 49ers‘ division to give away. And if they keep playing well with a soft schedule coming up, they could even earn an opening round bye.

October 25, 2011

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NFL Predictions: Week 8 Fantasy Picks

By: Rick Jarrell

A week predicted by many fans to be an abysmal set of games turned out to be surprisingly exciting.  Some of the best and most entertaining teams – New England, Buffalo, Philadelphia – had bye weeks.  But two games projected to be lopsided, Green Bay at Minnesota and Atlanta at Detroit, proved to be highly competitive.

My fantasy projections for Week 7 did pretty well, too.  (Editor’s note:  Due to a combination of laziness and incompetence in the Fathead office, Rick’s Week 7 projections were not posted last week.  We stink.) Dez Bryant recorded a TD and 90 yards receiving as the Cowboys demolished the Rams, and Jimmy Graham recorded 2 TD as the Saints more-than-demolished the Colts.  A game that would have been more competitive a few months ago, but without Peyton Manning, the hands-down primary option was Game 4 of the World Series (for those who do not have two televisions in their man cave, that is).

Do I dare even mention Colt McCoy?  To be fair, both teams are suffering from injuries to key offensive players, but still.  I couldn’t get through the whole game.  In a game with nine total points scored, no one wins.

On to Week 8 predictions.

Drew Brees

This may seem like an easy pick, but Brees has been inconsistent this year – he’ll have a huge game, then throw a few picks the next.  The Saints slaughtered the Colts last week, and there’s no reason not to think the same will happen against the Rams this week.  The Rams are coming off a blowout loss as well to a similarly high powered Cowboys offense.  Brees, as well as his receivers, are a good play again this week.

Detroit’s Defense

I’ll admit, that Broncos comeback Sunday was impressive.  Scoring 15 points in three minutes after scoring none the previous 57 is a feat even if you are playing the winless Dolphins.  But the no-point portion of the game is a better reflection of what to expect against Detroit.

The Lions don’t have stellar defense by any means.  What they do have is big play ability in their corners.  The way Tebow throws the ball – lofts it like you would a Nerf football – I envision a few turnovers here, and possibly a pick six.  That’s assuming the unintended receiver can get past Tebow, that is, who I assume would be able to handle himself if he needs to make a tackle.

Brandon Pettigrew

Staying in the same game, the Broncos have a solid frontline led by defensive end Elvis Dumervil.  Matt Stafford has had a great year so far, but is playing hurt (as always).  If the Broncos can get to him it’ll force him to look for his tight end in Pettigrew early.  If they hit him hard and force him out of the game – a strong possibility – expect backup Shaun Hill to look for Pettigrew more often.

Adrian Peterson

This is an easy pick – clearly you want to start him.  But this week should be especially fruitful.  The Panthers have trouble stopping the run, and with a rookie quarterback at the helm, the Vikes will likely feed Peterson as much as possible.  It didn’t happen that way against the Packers last week – largely because Green Bay’s secondary is depleted without safety Nick Collins – but expect that to change this week.