Best NFL Matchups Of The Week: December 8

indexThe week 14 schedule in the NFL will offer a diverse plate of selections, but everyone can agree that the heat of the moment is growing as the cold of December intensifies.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Washington Redskins

This game is going to be a mental challenge for the Chiefs, who have lost three straight games after starting the season 9-0. The Chiefs have simply been exposed by a really good team, and their defense has clearly started to wear down under the stress and strain of the season. This prolonged losing streak can really weigh on a team’s nerves and obliterate its sense of confidence.

Indianapolis Colts @ Cincinnati Bengals

This is a game in which two teams are playing for a very important prize: the third seed in the AFC playoffs. Kansas City, a really good team, is now almost certain to get the fifth seed and thereby play the fourth seed in the postseason. The Colts and Bengals want to get the third seed so that they can avoid being the fourth seed. Moreover, being the third seed would bring about a matchup against a mediocre sixth-seeded team in the wild card round. The team that wins this game will gain much more favorable odds of winning a playoff game this season. What adds to the drama of this game is that the Colts and Bengals both lost in the wild card round last season.

New York Giants @ San Diego Chargers

This game is a must for both teams. The Giants realistically don’t have much of a chance in the NFC East, but they have not been mathematically eliminated just yet. If they can catch a few breaks in December, they could still perhaps create some problems. The Chargers are now in must-win mode after giving away a bad loss at home to the Cincinnati Bengals.

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3 Things That Have To Happen For The Bengals To Win The Super Bowl

Wild Card Playoffs - Cincinnati Bengals v Houston TexansThe Cincinnati Bengals are in great shape to make a run at the Super Bowl this season.

The Bengals haven’t won a championship in their franchise history, and they haven’t made it to the big game since 1988. But the odds are in their favor as they seek to change that this year. With an 8-4 record, they are on top of the competitive AFC North, ahead of the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.

If the Bengals can keep up their high standard of play, they will have a real chance of winning their first championship.

Odds To Win Championship: 16/1

Key #1: Andy Dalton firing on all cylinders

Any NFL team that wants to win the Super Bowl needs a top quality quarterback calling the shots at the line of scrimmage. There are only so many of those to go around, but the Bengals can say that they have one in the form of Andy Dalton, who has been one of the biggest reasons why the Bengals lead their division.

At the tender age of 26, Dalton is in just his third season in the NFL, and his third at the helm of the Bengals offense. He burst onto the NFL scene with a rookie year that earned him an invitation to the Pro Bowl in 2011.

He hasn’t slowed down since then, putting together impressive offensive numbers both last season and so far this season.

He’s been at the top of his game in 2013, and if he keeps up his torrid pace he will set career highs in touchdowns and yards, while no doubt leading the Bengals to even more success.

If the team is to make it out of a very competitive AFC and reach the Super Bowl, they will need Dalton to be as good, if not better, as he has been.

Key #2: Shut the door

The Bengals boast arguably the best defense in football, with a roster full of players adept at stopping the opposing offence in their tracks.

The Bengals have no shortage of players they can turn to when they need to haul down an opposing ball carrier. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict has been racking up the tackles and assists all season and leads the team in both categories.

Ray Maualuga and George Iloka are two more defensive highlights for the Bengals. With an embarrassment of riches on the defensive line, the Bengals are tough to score against.

Key #3:Great coaching

The Bengals benefit from the leadership they receive from a terrific coaching staff.

As head coach, Marvin Lewis clearly has the respect of his players and has instituted systems that are leading them to victory.

In Mike Zimmer, they have one of the best defensive coordinators around, and one who seems destined to lead his own team one day.

The Bengals are in great shape for a championship run.

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College Basketball Betting: 3 Reasons Why Ohio State Can Win The March Madness

ScreenShot2013-04-13at5.45.44PM_crop_northThe Ohio State Buckeyes football program climbed to No. 2 in the country with a win over rivals Michigan this past weekend, and it looks like they will get their shot at a BCS Championsip game. While Ohio State is known for its football, the basketball program has also come a long way, and there are three notable reasons why they have the potential this year to make a run through the March Madness and win the national title

2014 March Madness Odds

Notable Reason #1: Aaron Craft Is Ready To Take The Next Step

Aaron Craft opted to come back for his senior season and the chance to show what he can do at the college level, so don’t expect him to struggle the way he did at times last year. A gifted playmaker that has excellent vision and a great basketball IQ, Craft will be asked to provide scoring while also putting his teammates in position to excel. He certainly has the raw talented and ability to do that, even if he isn’t as explosive as some of the other players at his position around the Big Ten. The Buckeyes will need contributions from across the board, but Craft is certainly talented enough to lead the way this season.

Notable Reason #2: Quality Depth Will Help Take Some Pressure Away

Deshuan Thomas was absolutely dominant for Ohio State a year ago and while Craft will step up to fill some of that void, the Buckeyes will rely on some quality depth to help spread the load around. Ohio State has opened the year with three-straight wins, and amazingly there are three different players tied for the team lead in average scoring. Amir Williams and Lenzelle Smith Jr. join Craft as the three players that are averaging a team-high 11.3 points per game, followed by Shannon Scott and Sam Thompson, who are averaging 11 and 8.2 points respectively. The Buckeyes need to be able to spread the ball around, and they have the depth to make sure that the pressure isn’t too much of a burden.

Notable Reason #3: Matta Understands How To Best Prepare His Team

The head coach of the Ohio State basketball team will have his hands full this year, but he also has a ton of talent at his disposal and he will do what it takes to get them ready by the time the March Madness Rolls around. Thad Matta has gone 111-45 in his 10 seasons coaching the Buckeyes in the Big Ten and while the roster may seem incomplete now, the next few months will be spent developing some of the young talent he has and making sure they are ready when it matters the most. Ohio State is good enough to contend in the Big Ten and should be a lock for the Madness, but this team could end up saving its best with Matta getting them prepared.

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