Best MLB Matchups Of The Weekend

LOS ANGELES DODGERS V PHILADELPHIA PHILLIESWe’ve got some great pitching matchups on the docket this weekend. Fans who are in withdrawal with no NHL or NBA action in their sportsbook should be very pleased with what’s on tap. We’ve highlighted the best three games to keep an eye on.

Detroit Tigers @ Tampa Bay Rays

Max Scherzer is back on the mound on Friday and all eyes will be on him to see whether he can continue his perfect run this season. So far, he’s 11-0 with a 3.05 ERA. June has actually been Scherzer’s best month so far as he has won all four of his decisions and has 2.00 ERA. Expect the Tigers to be favored on the betting odds even though they are on the road.


St. Louis Cardinals @ Oakland Athletics

Friday’s interleague play will feature an intriguing matchup between two teams that work within a budget (opposed to blow the bank, like the New York Yankees). The A’s will put Bartolo Colon on the mound and he’s been red hot. Colon has won seven straight decisions and has allowed just six earned runs in his last six starts. He’ll go up against Shelby Miller, who has been hit or miss. He’s had five starts this year where he’s allowed three earned runs or more but in all of his other 10 starts, he’s allowed two earned runs or less.

Philadelphia Phillies @ Los Angeles Dodgers

We’ll see a good matchup on Saturday as the Phillies visit the Dodgers in a battle of two teams who should be better than what they are. Cliff Lee, who will start for the Phillies, has done his part with a 2.51 ERA this season. He’s won seven straight decisions. He’ll be up against fellow lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu, who has allowed just 20 earned runs in his last 11 starts (2.46 ERA).

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Tennis Wagering: Early Exits to Nadal, Federer Open World of Possibilities

wimbledonBetting on Wimbledon is dramatic enough when the consensus top names clear cut their paths to the quarter- and semifinals every year. Now that we’ve seen two of the Big Four slain and a number of other injuries and withdrawals from the 2013 tournament already, fans and tennis oddsmakers alike are left to make sense of the confusion.

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In the first round of the Championships it was Rafael Nadal suffering the unexpected defeat. In three-straight sets Nadal fell to little known German Steve Darcis, effectively turning Wimbledon odds in the sportsbook entirely upside down.

If the No. 135-ranked threat’s uprise taught us anything in his moment in the sun before a shoulder injury forced him to retire from the event, it’s that this isn’t going to be your typical tournament.

Nadal isn’t the only heavyweight to have been sent packing early at the event either. The other, reigning champion Roger Federer, was also ousted in unceremonious and unexpected fashion before the end of the first week. No. 115-ranked Sergiy Stakhovsky will go down in the books as the one who brought an end to the Federer gravy train, so keep an eye on the rest of his path through the bracket.

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NHL Betting: Penguins are Cup Favorites for 2014

pensGoalThe 2013-14 Stanley Cup odds are out and it’s no surprise that the Pittsburgh Penguins are once again favored to win the Stanley Cup. With Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin back leading the way, the Pens are listed at 13/2 to take home the coveted trophy.

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However, the question for the Pens is in net. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has been awful in the last two postseasons and the team might need to find another solution if they are to become serious contenders.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Blackhawks are posted at 15/2 to repeat and considering they will be returning with most of their roster intact, there’s a good chance they’ll be among the last left standing. The team they beat in the finals – the Boston Bruins – are at 10/1 and they’ll be hungry after falling just short.

There are a number of Western Conference teams who are next in line according to the odds, starting with the St. Louis Blues at 12/1. If they can find some offense, they might be good value as their goaltending and defense are stellar. The Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks are at 14/1 while the Detroit Red Wings, who nearly defeated the Blackhawks in this year’s postseason, are at 16/1.

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MLB Betting: Padres Climb Standings, Odds Slow to Rise

hppadresa329183x002_r940x635Gather round, MLB betting fans, for the time has come. The San Diego Padres are once again in the NL West playoff hunt. This Thursday, fresh off a surge up the standings, they’ll look to showcase why they’ve suddenly emerged as a division contender.

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On the docket for the four-game set at Petco is a Los Angeles Dodgers ball club that could stand to benefit from a little momentum boost in the middle of the season. With Padres now among the playoff eligible, that leaves L.A. out in the cold as the only division member not neck-and-neck for the NL West’s top spot.

In the grand scheme of things, however, the Padres and Dodgers are relative equals. In fact, according to the MLB futures, it’s Los Angeles that sits ahead of state rival San Diego with 33/1 odds of winning the World Series.

The Padres, in contrast, have just 40/1 odds.

Over the course of the 2013, Padres fans have seen young Jedd Gyorko and Everth Cabrera rise to new heights, joined in the lineup by underrated power bats like Yonder Alonso and Kyle Blanks.

The order may not strike fear in the hearts of their opposition, but the winning speaks for itself.

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NFL Betting: New York Jets Notable Offseason Moves

hi-res-158495989_crop_650x440This has been a nasty offseason for the New York Jets, an organization whose future grows bleaker by the hour. Head coach Rex Ryan will have his work cut out for him this year.

2013 Super Bowl Odds:  +5000

Notable Change #1:

The Jets lost their most talented shutdown cornerback in April when they traded Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for the No. 13 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Adam Schefter and Rich Cimini of ESPN filed a story on April 22 with this basic explanation: “The deal is worth $96 million, making Revis the highest-paid defensive back in NFL history, but includes no guaranteed money, according to sources close to the Pro Bowl cornerback. The conditional pick headed to the Jets is a fourth-round selection in 2014, but could become a third-rounder if Revis is on Tampa Bay’s roster on the third day of the 2014 league year…”

No matter how much the Jets might have been backed into a corner by matters of financing, Revis’ injury problems, or other roster-balancing considerations, the loss of a prized player for comparatively little in return marks a substantial blow to the organization. There’s just no way to sugar-coat this deal or make it seem like a value-positive situation in any way, shape or form. Revis was such a cornerstone of the team’s defense – a huge reason why the Jets made back-to-back appearances in the AFC Championship Game in the 2009 and 2010 seasons – precisely because he took away the half of the field in which he was operating in single coverage. The Jets’ safeties and opposite-side linebackers did not have to worry as much about pass-coverage responsibilities because they knew Revis had things taken care of. New York needs its defense to be dynamic in light of its impotent offense. That’s just not likely to be the case this season now that Revis is gone.


Notable Change #2:

The Jets lost multiple players who had made contributions to the team in recent years. Running back Shonn Greene continued the exodus out of New York, signing with the Tennessee Titans. In a piece from the New York Post on March 14 of this year, writer Brian Costello offered these brief details: “The Jets did not try to hold onto Greene. The team’s third-round pick in 2009 goes to the Titans where he will join Chris Johnson in the backfield. Greene rushed for back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons in the past two years but never developed into the feature back they hoped.”

Notable Change #3:

The Jets lost two other safeties, leaving their secondary in tatters. LaRon Landry bolted to the Indianapolis Colts, while Yeremiah Bell moved on to Phoenix to play for the Arizona Cardinals. Again, here’s Brian Costello of the New York Post from March 14:

“Landry made the Pro Bowl in his one season as a Jet and proved he could stay healthy, earning him the big payday from the Colts. Bell spent the 2012 season with the Jets and played well. The team had interest in re-signing him, but the Cardinals struck first.” The erosion of the Jets’ roster is going to be a huge concern going forward.

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NFL Betting: Buffalo Bills Notable Offseason Moves

Seattle Seahawks v Buffalo BillsThe Buffalo Bills have done everything they feel they could have to transform themselves in to contenders for more than a decade now, but it has never been enough. The Bills own the NFL’s longest playoff drought at 13-straight seasons, and while they still may not be ready to challenge for a Super Bowl, there is reason to believe they are headed in the right direction. There are a couple of notable moves that could lead to Buffalo challenging for a playoff spot in the near future, and none is more important than the hiring of head coach Doug Marrone.

2013 Super Bowl Odds: Buffalo Bills + 10,000

Notable Change #1: Bills Decide Marrone Is Right Man For The Job

The Bills are high on the former Syracuse head coach Marrone, and managed to convince him that Buffalo is the right place for him to continue his coaching career at the NFL level. Marrone has NFL experience having served as the offensive line coach for the New York Jets for four years as well as the offensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints from 2006-09. His toughest challenge will be helping first-round pick EJ Manuel develop in to a franchise quarterback on the offensive side of the ball, while entrusting former Jet Mike Pettine as the defensive coordinator. Marrone brought with him Nathaniel Hackett from Syracuse to be the offensive coordinator, and the Bills will rely on one of the league’s best running back tandems in CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson to carry the load early.

Notable Change #2: Rookies Should Inject Life In To Offense

Spiller and Jackson will be relied on to spark the offense, but don’t count out the impact that both Manuel and wide receiver Robert Woods will have. Manuel has incredible athleticism and a live arm, which was enough for Buffalo to make him the first quarterback off the board in this year’s draft. That should be reason enough to think Manuel could start from week one, particularly with Woods teaming with Stevie Johnson to help the Bills’ vertical attack. Woods is a big play receiver that should slide in right next to Johnson and help stretch the field, and if he and Manuel click early it could take the Buffalo offense to the next level.

Notable Change #3: Lawson Key To Defense That Is Finally Healthy Again

The Bills’ defense finished last season having allowed the second-most points and the third-most yards in franchise history, even with key additions like Mario Williams and Mark Anderson on the defensive line. Anderson was injured for most of the year but is expected to be healthy, and that should help up front as Williams and Marcell Dareus attempt to bounce back from off years. Manny Lawson was added from Cincinnati to handle the duties on the strong side, and improved play from the front-seven should make things a lot easier on a Buffalo secondary that was torched far too often a year ago.

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Stanley Cup Finals Game 5 Preview

hi-res-7438592_crop_650x440BOSTON BRUINS at CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS Line & Total: Chicago -150 & 5 under -145

After tying up the NHL Stanley Cup Finals in a wild Game 4, the Blackhawks return home Saturday to host the Bruins in an crucial Game 5.

This series has already been incredibly close, with three of the four games going to overtime and the teams separated by just one goal. The Blackhawks were able to tie up the series on Wednesday with a 6-5 overtime win, scoring more in one night (six goals) than they had in the first three games combined (five goals). D Brent Seabrook was the hero with the overtime goal at 9:51 of the extra period. Chicago outshot the Bruins by a hefty 47-33 margin in Game 4 and won 49% of the faceoffs, a huge improvement from its 29% faceoffs won in Game 3. The Blackhawks also scored their first power-play goal of the series (1-of-15) on Wednesday, but Boston capitalized on two of its five chances with the man advantage. Now the series goes back to United Center where Chicago is 10-2 during the postseason. However, the Bruins are 6-3 on the road during these playoffs, including a 2-1 overtime win in Game 2. But there are plenty of trends favoring the Blackhawks to win again, as they are 19-2 coming off a road win this season, including a perfect 9-0 mark when that road win was by a one-goal margin. On the flip side, Boston is just 1-6 off a home loss by a one-goal margin this season. The pick here is <b>CHICAGO</b> to win on its home ice.<P>

Even with allowing six goals on 47 shots (.872 Sv Pct.) on Wednesday, Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask (14-6, 1.83 GAA, .941 Sv Pct. in playoffs) has had a great series so far, saving 161-of-172 shots (.936 Sv Pct., 2.09 GAA). And in his past four road games, Rask has turned aside 147-of-153 shots (.961 Sv Pct.). There were many offensive heroes for Boston in Game 4, especially C Patrice Bergeron, who netted two goals to give him a series-best four tallies on a team-high 19 shots on goal. Three of those goals have been on the power play, where his team is an excellent 4-for-14 (29%) in the series. LW Milan Lucic also has four points in the series (3 G, 1 A), but three occurred in Game 1, as his goal on Wednesday snapped a two-game point-less skid. But he also delivered a game-high eight hits in the Game 4 defeat. LW Daniel Paille (2 G, 1 A) is the only other multiple-goal scorer for the Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals, but he was held without a point and without a shot in Game 4. Four different players each have three assists and zero goals in the series — C David Krejci, C Tyler Seguin, D Zdeno Chara and RW Jaromir Jagr. Krejci still leads all NHL players with 24 points (9 G, 15 A) during the postseason, and Chara and Jagr had two helpers each in Game 4. But Jagr, who has 78 career playoff goals, has yet to score a single goal in any of the 20 games during these playoffs. Boston has four players that have logged at least 27 minutes per game during the NHL Finals, including two that are over 30 minutes — D Dennis Seidenberg (33:46 avg. ice time) and Chara (32:31). Seidenberg has blocked eight shots in his past two games, and also delivered seven hits in Wednesday’s loss.<P>

Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (14-7, 1.86 GAA, .931 Sv Pct. in playoffs) saved just 28-of-33 shots (.848 Sv Pct.) in the Game 4 win, but his numbers are still decent for his first Stanley Cup Finals series where he’s posted a .920 Sv Pct. and 2.29 GAA. Crawford has been outstanding at home during this postseason though, going 10-2 with a .938 Sv Pct. and 1.58 GAA. Thirteen different Chicago players scored at least one point during Game 4, but only three had multiple points — RW Patrick Kane (1 G, 1 A), LW Brian Bickell (2 A) and D Michal Rozsival (2 A). C Patrick Sharp is the only Blackhawks skater with more than one goal in the series, tallying two goals on his series-most 25 shots on goal. Sharp leads all scorers in the postseason with 10 goals, and it was his power-play tally in the third period on Wednesday that snapped the Bruins streak of killing off 30 straight penalties. In terms of the Stanley Cup Finals, only three Chicago players have at least three points — Kane (1 G, 2 A), Rozsival (0 G, 3 A) and C Dave Bolland (1 G, 2 A). The Blackhawks really need more out of C Jonathan Toews (1 G, 0 A in series) and LW Marian Hossa (0 G, 2 A in series), considering Toews has 10 points (2 G, 8 A) in the playoffs, while Hossa has 16 points (7 G, 9 A) in this postseason. Like Boston, Chicago also has four players that have logged more than 27 minutes per game of ice time during the Stanley Cup Finals. D Duncan Keith has been the biggest workhorse with a hefty 34:57 of ice time per game, in which he’s been able to post a +4 rating. Three other defensemen — Niklas Hjalmarsson (28:35 avg. ice time), Brent Seabrook (28:04) and Johnny Oduya (27:03) — have also played a ton of minutes, but only Seabrook (+1 rating) has a positive rating in the series.


NASCAR Toyota-Save Mart 350 Preview

Toyota/Save Mart The NASCAR drivers take to the road, literally, Sunday when they tackle Sonoma’s road course on Sunday for the Toyota-Save Mart 350. The course was originally constructed in 1968 as a 2.52-mile course, but was re-designed in 1998 to the current 1.99 miles, increasing the distance of the event to its current 218.9 miles covering 110 laps. The course has 10 turns with varying elevation changes. Turn 3a reaches 174 feet, while Turn 10 is the lowest elevation at a mere 14 feet. Since 1998, Jeff Gordon has five wins on this track (1998-2000, 2004 and 2006), while Tony Stewart is the only other driver with multiple wins in this 14-race span, taking the checkered flag in 2001 and 2005. Clint Bowyer is the defending champion.

Drivers to Watch

Jeff Gordon (7/1) – Winning at Sonoma is all about experience, and Gordon certainly has that with five wins, 12 top-5’s and an average finish of 8.6 in 20 all-time starts at this track. Although he hasn’t won this road course since 2006, he continues to run with the front of the pack with finishes of 7th, 3rd, 9th, 5th and 2nd and 6th in the past six races here. And although Gordon has been unlucky during the 2013 season with three crashes and a suspension issue, he’s finished no worse than 13th in the past eight races that he’s been able to complete. This includes a trio of third-place showings, including two of the past five starts (Darlington and Dover).

Clint Bowyer (10/1) – The defending champion at this track has placed fourth or better in three of the past four road races. In 2011, he placed 4th at Sonoma and 11th at Watkins Glen. In 2012, he won at Sonoma and finished 4th at Watkins Glen. In his past six starts at this particular road course, Bowyer has racked up four top-4 finishes. And he continues to climb steadily up the points standings this season, holding steady in third place thanks to an impressive 10-start span in which he has a 8.9 average finish with six top-8’s.

Greg Biffle (40/1) – We’ve recommended Biffle as one of the handful of drivers to wager on in the past two races, and he responded by finishing second at Pocono and then winning at Michigan last week with 12-to-1 odds. Sunday’s odds are quite a bit longer based on his pedestrian 14.9 career average at Sonoma. However, he’s finished seventh or better in four of his past seven starts at this course, including a 7th-place showing last year. And in the most recent road course, Watkins Glen in 2012, Biffle churned out a sixth-place finish.

Kasey Kahne (20/1) – He has been tremendous in qualifying at Sonoma, starting no worse than 8th (including two poles) in six of his past seven starts at this track. And in two of the past four races here, he has capitalized on his envious starting position, winning the race in 2009 and finishing fourth in 2010. Although Kahne has posted poor finishes in his past two races this season (36th at Pocono and 35th at Michigan because of a crash), don’t forget his impressive four top-two finishes this season.

Brian Vickers (60/1) – Our longshot of the weekend has to go to Vickers, who is hopping back into the seat of Mark Martin’s No. 55 car for this race. In last year’s Sonoma race, Vickers finished fourth, but couldn’t build upon that at Watkins Glen because he lost his engine on Lap 1. He also won the pole at Sonoma in 2009. In five races this season, Vickers has either started or finished in the top-8 four times, with the one exception being Kansas. In his most recent start in Richmond, he earned the No. 2 starting spot, but crashed during the race. If you’re feeling lucky, put down a one-unit wager on Vickers.


2013 NBA Betting – The Crowning Moment Of The Season Arrives

parkerweb14s-2-webThe Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs have fought through three playoff series, followed by six games against each other. They now meet in a one-game battle for the NBA title.

2013 NBA Finals, Game 7:

San Antonio Spurs @ Miami Heat– Thursday, June 20

Sport betting line: Miami -6

Why San Antonio Will Win

Online football betting students who want to add a little intrigue to their week might be interested in making a play on the underdog. You would have good reason to take San Antonio in this game, given that the Spurs have the veteran experience and the mental makeup needed to shrug off the memory of Game 6 and how a world championship slipped away. If any team – any combination of players and coaches – can rally and display the tunnel-vision focus needed to blot out a stomach-punch loss, it’s the Spurs. This organization has come as far as it has precisely because it possesses a supremely professional approach to everything it does. When the clamor of sports talk radio and the intensity of the national media spotlight is at its brightest, the Spurs withdraw to their inner circle, gain insight from head coach Gregg Popovich, and find a centered attitude that enables them to perform with high-level consistency.

One should also realize heading into Game 7 that Miami generally needs a good Dwyane Wade in order to have a solid chance of winning. Wade got dinged up (specifically his knee) in Game 6 on Tuesday night and was simply ineffective at both ends of the floor in the playing time he received following his slight injury. Wade will have only one off day between Games 6 and 7 – he could use two. If Wade is not up to par on Thursday in Game 7, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra is going to have to think long and hard about benching him, but much as Popovich probably trusted Manu Ginobili a little too much in Game 6, Spoelstra could give Wade too much playing time in Game 7, and that could backfire on the Heat.

Why Miami Will Win

With an online horse betting guru or a college football betting expert, the calculus of a given event depends not just on the intangibles, but on the reality of the human body and its limitations. Forget about desire and will and determination; San Antonio is the older team in this series, and after falling just short in an all-out attempt to close out Miami in Game 6, the Spurs will be at a disadvantage. Basketball gurus will tell you that the San Antonio Spurs will be mentally ready to play this game… but perhaps not physically ready.

There was a conscious and conspicuous effort on the part of the Spurs to finish the series in six games on Tuesday night. Tim Duncan willed his 37-year-old body to score 30 points and pull down 14 rebounds in the first three quarters of Game 6. Manu Ginobili played 34 minutes after a regular season in which his minutes were managed much more severely, often to the point that he wouldn’t play much more than 20 minutes, if that many. One should not question the Spurs’ mindset in this game, but it’s quite legitimate to wonder if San Antonio can call forth the level of pure energy it will need to win a Game 7 – both an elimination game and a close-out game, all in one package – on the road.

All in all, one should favor the home team in an NBA Game 7. This is especially true in the NBA Finals. The last time a road team won a Game 7 in an NBA Finals series was in 1978, when the Washington Bullets went to Seattle and defeated the Sonics in the Pacific Northwest. It’s been 35 years since a road team won Game 7 of an NBA Finals – are you really going to bet against a statistic such as that one?

Who Will Win?

The sense here is that this will be a competitive game, but Miami is likely to have more fuel in the tank, especially when playing at home. The Spurs will play intelligently, but they will not be able to match LeBron James’ physical prowess in important moments. Miami will win by eight points.

NBA Betting Pick: Miami -6


Which NBA Teams Will Rebound Next Year?

USATSI_7225018_154511284_lowresThe online sports book experts did not have to make that much of a stretch to predict that the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs would meet in the NBA finals this season. But it is also not much of a stretch to say that there are several other teams in the NBA that will be pressuring the Heat and Spurs next season. The teams that had high expectations in 2012-13 will appear on the betting sites in this offseason as favorites to shake things up in 2013-14.

 Indiana Pacers

The fact that the Pacers put a huge scare into the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals is not a fluke. Indiana has been building up to becoming a contender for the last few years. Now it looks like the Pacers have the roster and the experience they need to be even stronger in 2013-14. It is not a huge stretch so say that the Eastern Conference could look very different next season with the Indiana Pacers at the top of the standings all season long and going deep into the playoffs.

Oklahoma City Thunder

The sports betting sites never really considered what would happen to the Thunder if Russell Westbrook or Kevin Durant was injured. When Westbrook was hurt in the playoffs and knocked out of the competition, the Thunder fell like a stone. It was a wakeup call to Oklahoma City that it needs that third piece to become a legitimate championship contender. The fate of the Thunder will depend on what player the team gets to fill in that missing piece.


Atlanta Hawks

There is a lot of speculation around the Atlanta Hawks for next season and much of it is good. If the online betting sites are correct, then the Hawks could have Chris Paul and Dwight Howard next season. When you add a motivated Howard and the talented Paul to the young core the team already has, then you have a very strong team. Even if Atlanta does not pull in both Paul and Howard, there are still plenty of moves the team can make which will improve its fortunes next season.

Denver Nuggets

Anyone who was surprised by the success of the Denver Nuggets last season has not been paying attention to what the team has been doing for the past few years. The Nuggets made the playoffs last season after an extremely strong regular season. But it was the lack of a big man in the middle and the experience needed to win in pressure situations that held Denver back when it really counted. The Nuggets have the experience now and it is up to the team to bring in that big man which will help the Nuggets to move to the top of the ladder in a very crowded Western Conference.

Read more about the coming season in the NBA and the teams that are primed to compete for a title.