College Football Top 10 for 2014

>> Tuesday

Who are the best teams in college football going to be next season? Here’s my top ten:

10) Texas A&M -> The Aggies have had a surprising season and deserve a ton of credit. It will be interesting to see if they can keep it up in the most difficult conference in America.

9) Oklahoma -> Might have been the most disappointing team in America last year. But the Sooners don’t rebuilt; they reload.

8) Notre Dame -> It’s nice that the Irish are relevant again.

7) Stanford -> Always my favorite team in college football.

6) Florida State -> Are the Seminoles back? One could argue they had all the tools to win it last season.

5) Florida -> This team played far over its head last year. Won't happen this season

3) Oregon -> A team that never plays defense is never going to win it all.

3) LSU -> Should have a shot to play for the national title, but could be screwed in tough SEC.

2) Georgia -> Could be a great year for the Bulldogs

1) Alabama -> Best team until they're beaten.


NFL Power Rankings

>> Wednesday

It truly is the best time of the year, particularly for single, degenerate gamblers like myself. Between the NFL, college football betting and even MLB betting sites taking my action, I’ll be like a kid in a candy story come Sunday.

So how’s the season going to play out?

Here’s my preseason rankings:

1) Green Bay -> They won’t go undefeated, but a 14-win regular season seems pretty much in the bag. If you’re not into taking gambles, this is the time to go with.

2) NY Giants -> Everyone forgets about the Giants even though they’re approaching dynasty mode. 12 or 13 wins is a lock.

3) New England -> The AFC is a disaster this year, but the Pats will at least score a ton of points. And hey, someone has to make the Super Bowl.

4) New Orleans -> We’ll see how important coaches are this season. I still love the Saints.

5) Philadelphia -> Most underachieving team of the last 15 years has another chance this year. Vick must stay healthy.

6) Atlanta -> The Falcons should make the jump this year. With White and Jones, they have by far the two best wideouts in the league and Ryan is generally pretty consistent.

7) Detroit -> The bandwagon pick of the year… and with good reason. I’m predicting a Super Bowl for the Lions this year.

8) San Francisco -> They really could have used Peyton Manning, but the defense is best in the league.

9) Baltimore -> If the Pats don’t make the Super Bowl, the Ravens will.

10) Dallas -> Another let down team last year, but if they just put it all together, they can contend.         

11) Chicago -> Da Bears flopped after Matt Forte’s injury, but he’s healthy and the team’s offense should be explosive.

12) Miami -> Reggie Bush will be the best non-quarterback in fantasy this year.

13) Seattle -> Love the defense, love the home field advantage. Hate the coach.

14) Pittsburgh -> The Steelers are losing it, but they’re always a threat.

15) Houston -> Last year was this team’s best shot to win everything. Solid playoff contender though.

16) NY Jets -> It’s time for Rex Ryan to get moving.

17) San Diego -> See Philadelphia.

18) Washington -> I love RG3. The Skins will stink this year, but they’re getting better.

19) Tampa Bay -> I have a feeling about this team. Could be much better.

20) Oakland -> I predict a letdown.

21) Tennessee -> Chris Johnson could change everything if he has a season like he had two or three years ago.

22) Carolina -> Cam is the man, but I don’t like his other weapons. Stewart and Williams are flops.

23) Kansas City -> For my fantasy hopes, please keep Jamal healthy.

24) Denver -> The Peyton Manning era begins, but I don’t love this team.

25) Buffalo -> They’ll score points, but they play no defense.

26) Cincinnati -> When you get this far down the list, all the teams seem the same.

27) Cleveland -> Looks like another pitiful year for the Browns.

28) Arizona -> Another year without a quarterback.

29) Minnesota -> Not sure Ponder is the answer and Peterson’s injury history scares me.

30) St. Louis -> See Arizona         

31) Jacksonville                 -> Love MJD, hate everyone else.

32) Indy -> Andrew Luck will need plenty to win more than 3 games this year.


Sunday Preview

>> Thursday

Work this week didn't allow me to write up a Saturday preview (except for my Twitter thoughts), but here are my thoughts on the Saturday in football.

-If the Texans can play in Baltimore the way they played yesterday, they can beat the Ravens. Meaning they run well with Arian Foster and Ben Tate and if Andre Johnson can make a difference like he did on the TD pass. I know their defense will show up, but I expect a tougher time for young T.J. Yates on the road.

-I'd have a whole lot more confidence in the Bengals future if Mike Brown wasn't the man to decide on how to improve it. It's a lot to ask Andy Dalton to win his first road playoff game.

-Detroit is also on the right path, just need a running game and a better secondary. Now, any secondary can look bad against the Saints in New Orleans, but a running game would have kept the ball in the Lions' hands for more of the game. I would click here for the TopBet online sportsbook and place a bet.

-As for the Saints, what else is there to say about their offense. I really can't wait until they play San Francisco; great offense against great defense. Also curious how the Niners play in their first playoff game since Steve Mariucci's last game as coach.

Now onto today's games, one of which I will be attending. That's right, I'll be at MetLife Stadium for Giants-Falcons. Though I can be biased when the Giants are involved, I do think they win today 27-20 because the outdoors will hurt Atlanta, plus the Giants have their pass rush back, and not just Jason Pierre-Paul.

As for the late game, my first thought was no way can the Broncos beat the Steelers after the game they played against Kansas City and after losing their last 3 games. Over the past week, I've seen some people go the other way, with the worry being the Steelers who are hurt and those who are banged up. Also, too much is being made about the fact that 8-8 or worse teams playing home playoff games have done well recently. I expect some turnovers by Tebow and the Broncos and a couple play made by Ben Roethlisberger will be the difference. Steelers will win 20-3.


Week 10 Picks

>> Saturday

Just picks today. However, there won't be quick picks this week, since I haven't wrote much lately. Before the picks, let's look back at Oakland-San Diego and once again, this game says more about the Chargers than it does about the Raiders. Once again, the Chargers can move the ball until they absolutely have to. The fact that the AFC West isn't led by the Chargers is a failure on Norv Turner and it doesn't help that Philip Rivers has been too erratic. Even if San Diego plays great in December and wins the West, that just means they get to lose in the 1st round. Should be the end for Norv if they don't turn this around big time, especially how quick the Chargers pulled the trigger on Marty Schottenheimer's firing.

Now onto the picks, as I attempt to finally end this middling of my picks. Until Thursday's game, I've been at .500, which is unacceptable. Let's see if there's carryover from Thursday's Raiders win. (Home team in CAPS)

Pittsburgh (-3) over CINCINNATI

Tough to pick against the Steelers after a loss. Especially when facing a rookie quarterback, even though Andy Dalton hasn't played like a rookie. Will be very telling of both teams if the Bengals win this one.

Denver (+3.5) over KANSAS CITY

I have a new rule for the AFC West, take the points. Home or away, this division is so bad that if two teams play one another, you're better off taking the underdog. Just remember, a Broncos win means they will be a game out of first with Tim Tebow as the QB.

Jacksonville (-3) over INDIANAPOLIS

Never saw an NFL team look to get the number one draft pick the way the Colts look. They really could go 0-16 to get Andrew Luck. This is a rare winnable game, but the Jags play good enough defense that should see another single-digit Colts offensive effort.

Buffalo (+5.5) over DALLAS

Just when it's time to buy on the Cowboys, this is when a curve is usually thrown and the Cowboys show us why we shouldn't believe in them. Also, expect a much better effort from the Bills, who last week could do anything against the Jets.

Houston (-3.5) over TAMPA BAY

Yes, I'm taking another road team. The Texans are playing very well lately and if they are going to come down to earth, I don't see the Bucs being the team to do so, even though you could say the season for the Bucs is on the line.

CAROLINA (-3.5) over Tennessee

The Titans are just good enough to play close games, then lose them late. As for the Panthers, I think the bye week helps them and Cam Newton is due to win some ballgames, isn't he?

MIAMI (-4) over Washington

Just read that Rex Grossman will start today, not John Beck. The Redskins have no chance to win a game that John Beck starts. At least with Grossman, he's either competent or godawful. Looks like I'm betting on awful. Of course, if the Dolphins want to stay in Suck For Luck, they lose this one.

ATLANTA (+1) over New Orleans

Because I don't trust the Saints on the road anymore. All three losses are road ones (Green Bay, Tampa Bay and St. Louis). Now they are playing a Falcons team that is finally looking like the one who won the NFC South and held the top seed in the playoffs last year. We'll have a new team in first tomorrow.

St. Louis (+3) over CLEVELAND

Two bad teams, but the Rams have the better QB in Sam Bradford. Remember when a matchup between Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy was the biggest game of the weekend? Now it's probably the worst game.


Arizona (+14) over PHILADELPHIA

I probably would of taken the Eagles until we found out DeSean Jackson isn't playing (nice job DeSean during a contract year). Now, I'm taking the points because no one seems to cover double-digit spreads this year. Besides, why should a 3-5 team give 14 points (even with John Skeleton involved)?

Baltimore (-7) over SEATTLE

I fear this game because of the Ravens propensity of losing to bad teams on the road (especially after a Steelers win). Just know that the Ravens can't afford to blow games like this if they want to finally have home playoff games this year. Besides, will Tavaris Jackson/Charlie Whitehurst really beat Lewis, Ngata, Suggs, Reed and the Ravens defense?

CHICAGO (-3) over Detroit

All of a sudden, the Bears look good. Earl Bennett has made Jay Cutler more comfortable, they still play high level defense with Urlacher, Briggs and Peppers. Meanwhile, the Lions haven't played as well as they did to start the year and the Bears could have won the meeting in Detroit if they didn't make a couple mistakes.

Giants (+3.5) over SAN FRANCISCO

Now this is football, when the Giants and 49ers are both top teams in the league. Honestly, this is a tossup, and I'm mostly taking the Giants because of that half point. In the meantime, here's some great video (for both fan bases).

New England (+1) over JETS

Funny feeling about this one. The Pats just don't lose 3 in a row (2002 was the last time). Everyone seems to be on the Jets here, and with reason as the Jets have won three in a row and the Pats have lost two in a row and looked bad offensively in their last 3. I just don't think the Jets take advantage of the Pats problem areas on defense and won't cover the tight ends when Brady is throwing it.

Minnesota (+14) over GREEN BAY

Thinking a close Monday night game here. Now that the Packers are 8-0, they will get every team's best shot. That means Adrian Peterson controls the line of scrimmage and Christian Ponder continues to protect the ball.

This week: 1-0
Last week: 7-7
Season record: 63-62-6


NFL Thoughts

>> Wednesday

The NFL resumes tonight with the defending champion Packers hosting the Saints. Unfortunately, work is going to keep me from watching the entire game or write a more detailed preview for the upcoming season. So here's my order of finish in each division with a brief synopsis following it.


1. New England- I'm with everyone else picking the Pats as the AFC East champs. Can't go wrong picking against Brady, plus a motivated Haynesworth is a scary one.
2. NY Jets- The only way they are better this year is if Sanchez improves. Defense didn't improve and the offensive weapons are older. It's on the Sanchise. Playoffs though.
3. Miami- Too much talent at other positions to finish in last. Of course, when Chad Henne's involved, you never know. 8-8 or 7-9 will be the record.
4. Buffalo- Long time without winning, and they're still not close to legitimate. Fitzpatrick will keep them at about 5 wins; really could use 2 wins and Andrew Luck.


1. Pittsburgh- Unlike their two Super Bowl wins with Roethlisberger, they lost and will be hungry this year. Steelers defense is still the same. AFC favorites.
2. Baltimore- Was tempted to shock everyone by having them 3rd, but couldn't pull the trigger. I think it's Ray Lewis last chance to win. Like the Jets, they go where Flacco does. Wild card.
3. Cleveland- They're getting better, let's see if the marriage of Colt McCoy and Pat Shurmur will lead to 8 wins for the Browns, maybe more. There's hope in Cleveland.
4. Cincinnati- Lost Johnathan Joseph and Ochocinco. The great QB battle between Bruce Gradkowski and Andy Dalton. Pencil in 3 wins.


1. Houston- No excuses Texans. Peyton Manning's missing time for the Colts. Wade Phillips is the DC, which he can handle. Gary Kubiak has to be fired if they lose again.
2. Tennessee- Because I think Peyton Manning misses a lot of time. Because Matt Hasselbeck will start more games than Jake Locker and put up 8 wins.
3. Indianapolis- Because Kerry Collins was going to retire. Manning's been the reason the Colts have stayed in the playoffs the last 3 years. No Manning=6 wins.
4. Jacksonville- Even if Blaine Gabbert is any good, Luke McCown isn't and could put the Jags into enough of a hole. The only way this team will is if they need head to a Canadian pharmacy and pick up some special stuff.


1. San Diego- Better special teams, going along with 1st ranked offense and defense. Full years for Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeil. MVP=Philip Rivers.
2. Kansas City- This team gets a tougher schedule and falls back to 8-8. Kind of like the Dolphins after they won the AFC East in '08. Especially with Matt Cassel's injury status.
3. Denver- Broncos will still play good offense and now their defense is beginning to catch up. AFC West is about to be good again.
4. Oakland- The Raiders will slip. They can't help it after losing Asomugha to Philly. More troubles for the once proud franchise.


1. Dallas- Surprised? A healthy Tony Romo, another year for Dez Bryant and the Rob Ryan led defense. Also, they have no pressure this year, because of the Eagles.
2. NY Giants- I figure Eli Manning won't throw 25 INT's again. Despite the injuries on defense, Justin Tuck is still there. People will be surprised when they make the playoffs.
3. Philadelphia- And they'll be shocked when the Eagles miss them. Vick doesn't play as well as last year and their front seven weakness will show up at a key point. Gut feeling.
4. Washington- Rex Grossman beat out John Beck for the starting QB job. Add that their roster is average and another Andrew Luck sweepstakes team is compiled.


1. Green Bay- The champs get back Jermichael Finley and Ryan Grant and do something they didn't do last year, win the division.
2. Minnesota- My surprise in the NFC because Adrian Peterson will run the ball and run all day like he's supposed to. Plus, McNabb has a better year with AP.
3. Detroit- Because I don't believe Matt Stafford stays healthy all season. If he does, Detroit will be 2nd, with Johnson, Suh and company. Also they make the playoffs with Stafford playing.
4. Chicago- Worst to first? Yes, because they could have easily have finished in last. Lucky team all last year, starting in Week 1. Luck always evens out in this league.


1. New Orleans- The year-after hangover is over. Brees will be his normal great self, the defense will return to '09 mode and with Mark Ingram, the running game improves as well.
2. Atlanta- Good team, not great. Suspect defense put more pressure on Matt Ryan and that offense. They can handle it in the regular season, but not in the playoffs.
3. Tampa Bay- They come back a bit, though I do think Josh Freeman gets better. I have to, he's my fantasy starting QB.
4. Carolina- Growing pains while we watch Cam Newton start from Day 1. Last again, but better, likely 6 wins.


1. St. Louis- Bradford leads the Rams to the playoffs, though being the NFC West, it doesn't say much. Big year for Steven Jackson will result as well.
2. Arizona- They have a QB in Kevin Kolb; and unlike in Philly, he'll have a chance to play without worried about a backup over his shoulder. Team needs more talent.
3. San Francisco- Enough talent to stay out of last, but too much Alex Smith to make a real run (we all know winning the NFC West doesn't count as a run).
4. Seattle- The team that proves the West means nothing. They won the division, and a playoff game, yet are still in rebuild mode. Qwest Field keeps Andrew Luck away.

AFC Title Game: San Diego over Pittsburgh
NFC Title Game: New Orleans over Green Bay

Super Bowl: New Orleans over San Diego


On Baseball Realignment

>> Sunday

MLB is on the edge of changing the game again. They are planning on making the playoffs 10 teams versus the eight that it currently has, and now there is talk of realignment, something that hasn't happened since 1998. The talk is to move an NL team to the AL and create two 15-team leagues. Not a bad idea, but here's what I've got.

Option A: I like the original idea, so I'll put that as option A. Move the Brewers back to the AL but create six divisions with five teams in each division. Brewers go to the AL Central and then move the Royals to the AL West. Division play was put in play to create more rivals. It's like interleague. Consider the 'natural' rivals that interleague poses, except it is already there with divisional play.

Speaking of 'natural' rivals in interleague, the way to play the game with odd divisions is to have rolling interleague play. Forget the whole designated time slots for interleague play and just have interleague all the time. If there are 23 weeks of baseball that would allow for every team to play each other at one point. Alternate the years for who plays home and who plays on the road. Take the current idea of five playoff teams with the top three division winners getting a bye and you've increased revenue.

Also consider this idea. I'll use the example of the Red Sox for this. When fans can't make it to Fenway they will travel to New York or Baltimore because it is a cheap flight and they can watch their home team play on the road. If the Sox had to play Seattle 10 times a year then this wouldn't benefit the home team, just as if Seattle had to come to Boston more than two road trips. It wouldn't be worth it. Move the Royals to the AL West and they can take a trip down to Dallas to catch games and visa-versa. Well that is if they had fans.

Option B: Consolidate. Get rid of 2 teams and go back to the way things were in 1993, just two divisions in each league with seven teams. Divisions are still somewhat in existences and it helps solve the problem for the lack of attendance. Fans in Miami don't care about the Marlins. You can probably eliminate the Royals too if that were the case.

This would solve another problem aside from lack of attendance; it would create better teams. Have a new draft with those players and expand rosters to 26 active players.This would take 50 'free agent' players on those teams and move them across MLB while getting rid of 22 players to the minors, or moving other players, currently on the bench, to the minors.

This would also curtail increased salaries. If the talent pool is larger, then teams would be willing to spend less and 'settle' for better than average minor league players who can still perform in the big leagues. Each division winner would make the playoffs and then you could have 4 wild cards, making six playoff teams with the division winners getting a bye. Look, another problem solved; increased revenue due to larger playoffs and increased attendance.

There are other ideas floating around for a 'floating realignment' but that just seems too complicated and hectic so we will use these two options as the best. I should just run MLB.


Stanley Cup Preview

>> Wednesday

The theme of this year's Stanley Cup Final is the exercising of postseason failure. Both the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins have experienced losing, not just in the history of both franchises, but recent memory as well.

For the Bruins, it's a history of losing to the Montreal Canadiens almost every spring, plus the years of 1988-92 which they reached the Cup Final twice and two Wales Conference Finals as well and couldn't win. It also includes the last two springs which include a Game 7 home overtime loss to Carolina and the loss to the Flyers after leading the series 3-0.

Vancouver's past include losing Game 7 to the Rangers in the 1994 Final, coming within a Nathan Lafayette shot off the post from tying the game. It also includes the Markus Naslund-Todd Bertuzzi years which they were the most entertaining team, yet dealt with playoff failures in the early 2000s. Their recent failures are the back-to-back series losses to the Chicago Blackhawks, which saw the worst of Roberto Luongo by the end of each series.

Now these two teams are set to take the ice tonight in Rogers Arena to begin a Stanley Cup Final which the matchup on paper might mean nothing. Then again, this is hockey, the matchup on paper doesn't always mean anything. The best three players in this series are probably both Henrik and Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler. Boston can counter with Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton, who might not be as good as the Vancouver three, at the very least are playing as well right now.

Just rewatch both series; the Sedins regained their scoring touch as particularly Henrik dominated the series with his passing. When he gets going, then brother Daniel starts to score, then Alex Burrows and before long, a more confident Canucks team emerges, which is troublesome for the entire league. That doesn't include Kesler, who's a jack of all trades for the Canucks, with his scoring, playmaking, and special teams ability. As for the Bruins, all three men carried the Bruins at times late in the series. Krejci, alone, has been the Bruins catalyst for the last 3 years, only no one really thinks of this as true. When they lost to the Flyers last year, it was due to Krejci's injury and no one else being able to score consistently for them. Along with Horton, who's been the sniper that Boston fans have wanted for years, not so much in huge goal numbers, but just a plain ability to get the puck past the goaltender. Meanwhile, Lucic just seems to be everywhere, skating hard and no one on the ice will take a run at him, for fear of how he'd answer back.

The rest of both teams' rosters are full of depth; players who are willing to step up when needed. It's no different than any other hockey team, only the quality of the depth. Zdeno Chara is the best defensemen in the series and almost certainly will be on Sedin duty this series. Tyler Seguin is the Bruins x-factor, who can carry the Bruins when they aren't scoring with his ability. Mark Recchi, Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley all provide big minutes and timely plays for Boston and Dennis Seidenberg has been key as Chara d-line mate. The Canucks depth includes Kevin Bieksa, a defensemen who while isn't a Chara on the blueline, can do anything that's needed by Vancouver. Chris Higgins has really led the team with his scoring because he's more a grinder than scorer. And then there's Raffi Torres, a man who will be called apon to give big hits to the Bruins, countering what Boston thinks as how they would win this series.

Finally, the goaltenders, where this series story will be told. Roberto Luongo has had all the expectation to reach this stage and after some tough times in the Chicago series, he's really carried the Canucks past the Predators in a low-scoring series and past a more high-octane Sharks squad. Meanwhile, what hasn't already been said about Tim Thomas. The man just competes in goal. He reminds me of Mike Richter to be honest, as both men were battler's in net and while both guys were at times susceptible to a soft goal, also can't be beat if they play at their best. The Tampa series is really what you need to know from Thomas, following up each loss with a near unstoppable performance (yes, I know he gave up 5 goals in Game 2, but followed that game with a shutout). My warning for anyone picking Vancouver; that means you're picking against Tim Thomas.

I've thought this series is a lot like a reverse 1994 with the Canucks in the Rangers role and Boston in Vancouver's role. Vancouver, like the Rangers, probably can do more of what they want to do on the ice, only that goaltender is there to shut them down, and when he does, Boston will counterpunch. This is a series that will go seven, only I see the home team losing and waiting another year.

Predicition: Bruins in 7


NBA Finals Preview

>> Tuesday

An interesting NBA Finals begins tonight as we see if the Heat can fulfill it's promise to bring championships to South Beach, while a group of old vets lead Dallas into the Finals with likely their last legitimate run to an NBA title. What makes the Dallas run so compelling is that no one has won before, aside from Rick Carlisle's title with Boston as a player. They also have Dirk Nowitzki, looking to vanquish demons from his last Finals appearance, against the Heat, along with Jason Terry, the other holdover from the 2006 Mavs team. Jason Kidd looks to erase his two title losses with the Nets, Peja Stojakovic looks to right a wrong from the 2002 Western Conference Finals and Shawn Marion will do the same after losses to the Spurs in the mid-2000s.

As for Miami, Dwyane Wade looks for his second title, while LeBron James tries to start making Scottie Pippen right (which he never could) about being a greater player than Michael Jordan. You can't even attempt to argue that until LeBron wins a title. Not when you're dealing with Jordan, who's competitive fire is greater than almost every superstar in history (probably just Russell is in the group, with Kobe a level below). The story for the Heat won't be their other guys, but if Chris Bosh continues to play at the level he showed against the Bulls, if Wade can make up for a weak (for him) series on offense and if LeBron can maintain the ruthlessness he demonstrated since Game 4 against the Celtics.

The matchup itself will be fun, as we'll wonder if Dirk or LeBron will be held by anyone. My guess; no one holds LeBron, while Dallas will survive the games which Dirk is hitting his shots no matter who's guarding him. After those two, it will be seen if the Mavs can hit from the perimeter, negating the Heat's advantage in halfcourt defense.

Prediction: Mavs in 6


Guest Post: NBA Eastern Conference Game 4 Preview

Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat Game 4 Preview

Current NBA Odds: Heat -5 O/U OFF

By: Mike Cooper of Coopers Pick

Even though 2 of the Big 3 of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade did not have the best Game 3 the Bulls could not contain the 3rd member of Chris Bosh, who scored 34 points on 13/18 shooting in the Miami win. Derrick Rose scored 20 points, but for the 2nd straight game he did not shoot the rock well (8/19 from the floor) and for the game Chicago shot 41.6%. The Bulls are not a high scoring team and they have to play much better D in Game 4, as in Game 3 the Heat shot 50.7% from the floor and this season the Bulls are 2-9 when an opponent shoots over 50%.

Interesting fact that the last team to win a Game 3 in the Eastern Conference semifinals and go on to lose the series was the 2005 Miami Heat.

In Game 3 in Miami the Heat beat the Bulls 96-85 and Miami covered the spread and the posted total went Over.

This season the Heat are 48-46-1 ATS and the Bulls are 56-38-2 ATS. The Heat are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 home games against the Bulls.

Game 4 is in Miami and the Heat have yet to lose at home in this post-season (7-0).

The Bulls did have a solid Game 3 on the boards out-rebounding the Heat by 9, but they have to shoot the rock better and attack the rim and not settle for jumpers. Rose, Luol Deng (6/13 14 points), and Carlos Boozer (8/19 26 points) all shot under 50% from the field and the Bulls only had 36 points in the paint.

Rose has to get it going, as he has struggled in the last couple of games with his shot and Chicago has lost both games. He only had 5 assists in Game 3 and 0 in the first half and if he is not hitting his shot he must dish out the rock more.

Joakim Noah is not a focal part of the Bulls offense, but he has to score off offensive boards and put backs. He only had 1 point in Game 3 and only had 5 rebounds. He has to be more physical inside and get some easy buckets in the paint as well as pull down more boards.

Betting Trends

Chicago is 11-3-1 ATS in their last 15 games against teams with a winning percentage above 60% and they have an Under record of 7-3 in their last 10 games after an ATS loss.

Miami is 4-0 ATS in their last 4 home games, 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games playing on 1 days rest, and they have an Over record of 5-0 in their last 5 home games. Since the beginning of the season my nba picks have said to watch out for the heat this season and right now there is no exception to that. It certainly will be an exciting game 4 in the NBA playoffs


Man, Screw Phil Jackson

>> Monday

Phil Jackson is on the verge of becoming the next Breff Favre. Will he come or will he go. Here's a question, though. Who Cares? Really, does it matter if he is 335 games over .500 in his career as a coach? Does it matter that he has 11 NBA Championships? He's a mediocre coach.

Go ahead and immediately downplay that notion that he is just an average guy. Players play and coaches coach. When you have the best players on the court you are going to win more often than you lose. Phil Jackson won 70% of the regular season games he coached. That's about 57 games won a year in an 82 game season. Big deal?

Everyone jumped on Eric Spoelstra and the Miami Heat for coming out so slowly to start the year and yet the team still won 58 games. It isn't that Spoelstra is a great coach, rather he has the best players on his team. There's no such thing as luck, it is just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. If Spoelstra had a horrible ensemble of players, he might get canned for a bad start, but the fact is he has the best players, much like Phil Jackson did his entire career.

Do you think that if Spoelstra had the same talent on his team for 20 years that he could consistently win 57 games? Without a doubt. But no one is ever going to claim that he was one of the best coaches. Is there an award for best manager of talent? Maybe that is what we could dole out to coaches like Phil Jackson and Eric Spoelstra.

I'm not saying Doc Rivers is the best coach either. Ask anyone who knows me and I was against Doc Rivers coming to Boston. These guys are in the NBA and if they can't get up to play then they won't win. It doesn't take a coach in the NBA to motivate players. This isn't the college game. Phil Jackson has always had the best player on his team, so it is only natural that he be one of the best coaches when it came to winning percentage.

What makes the best coach? A coach that takes his team to new levels, a coach that surpasses expectations. Should the Heat miss their expectations of winning a championship it wouldn't surprise me to see Phil Jackson come and take over. Why would Phil Jackson take over a team like the Sacramento Kings and show what kind of coach he really is? If he really is that great of a coach? Look at any other team in the West right now still playing and they should be defined as better coaches. They all won 56% or more of their regular season games and made the playoffs with far inferior teams. Do that consistently and they have a case.

Sure, no one knew that Jordan and Kobe would be the players they panned out to be when Phil first had them but the only way Jackson would coach is if he had the best players. So if Phil stays, it will only be in a spot beneficial to him. I give coaches like Larry Brown more credit for trying again and again, only to fail again and again. They are trying to flex their coaching muscle, aka, their minds. How hard is it to say, "Kobe, let's get a win, go take over"? It really is that easy and if any NBA team wants to give me a chance with elite players, I'll gladly put a few flex offense sets on a whiteboard and say "Hey, Superstar, go get me a win. And look to Superstar 2 and 3 if you can't get your shot."

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