NFL Week 15 review and playoff outlook…

December 15th, 2008 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor)

With only two weeks to go in the regular football season there are still a bunch of teams battling for playoff positions and games to watch going into week 16 in the NFL. Looking back it was definitely a wild week in professional football with a number of huge plays and unlikely winners. The Dallas Cowboys had a full week of controversy surrounding their offensive standouts. Star wide receiver Terrell Owens accused QB Tony Romo of throwing the ball to tight end Jason Witten too often and it lead to a media field day. However, the Cowboys dominated the New York Giants Sunday night to win 20-8. The Giants were a team many thought clearly to be the best in the NFC. The win put the Cowboys who seemed like a long shot for the playoffs back in the captain’s seat for a wildcard spot. The Giants on the other hand dropped two in a row and now will play in a huge game next week against the Carolina Panthers to determine who has home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The Carolina Panthers on the other hand continue to prove why many are considering them favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. The Panthers trampled the Broncos 30-10 and improved their home record this season to 8-0. A win next week would make the Panthers very difficult to beat considering they would get the rest of their games at Bank of America Stadium. The Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings both got wins in their quest to win the NFC North. Both teams records are likely not good enough to earn a wildcard position and they are battling it out to try and win the division. The Vikings need one more win to clinch the division, but they will take on two of the better teams in the NFC in the New York Giants and the Atlanta Falcons. The Bears must run the table against the Packers and Texans because a single loss would end their postseason hopes.

The Washington Redskins troubles continued as they fell victim to the Cincinnati Bengals 20-13. The Redskins have just been torn apart in recent weeks losing 5 of their last 6 games. Sunday’s loss to the Bengals officially eliminated Washington from the playoff picture. The Philadelphia Eagles are set to collide with the Cleveland Browns primetime on Monday night. The Eagles still have an outside shot at making the playoffs and must win their last 3 games. A single loss will eliminate the Eagles from contention. The Eagles have been playing well and if they could pull of the 3 wins, they still could quite possibly need some help to still make the playoffs. However, with absolutely nothing to lose you can expect Philadelphia to keep up their stellar of recent weeks.

One of the more anticipated match-ups heading into last week showcased the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons desperately needed a win and that is exactly what they got as they edged the Bucs out by a field goal in overtime 13-10. Both teams now stand at a season record of 9-5 with the Cowboys. The Buccaneers hold the tie-breaker over the Falcons, but with two games to go anything can happen. Especially considering how well the Falcons are playing and the Buccaneers have now lost two straight. The Falcons really need to win their last two games because one loss simply does not look like it will get the job done. The Arizona Cardinals have already clinched the NFC West, but have now lost 3 of their last 4 games including a blowout loss to the Vikings Sunday 35-14. The Cardinals must get the offense back to playing as they did early in the season. The Cardinals looked like a team that could possibly surprise a few teams a few weeks ago and now look like they could be a cake walk in the first round.

In the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers held a classic grudge match between their two stellar defenses. The Ravens lead nearly the entire game, but the Steelers would stage a comeback in the 4th quarter for the 2nd time in two weeks to clinch the AFC North. Pittsburgh now has the opportunity in a big game against the Tennessee Titans this week to earn the chance at home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Titans and the Steelers both have already earned first round byes, but are now fighting for the home field and whoever wins this weekend will claim the home turf. On the other hand, the Ravens are now in a 4 way tie for the final wildcard spot and cannot afford a single loss. The AFC is as tough this year as it has been in the last decade and if a quality caliber team like the Ravens misses the playoffs this season that will say a lot for how strong the AFC has played this season.

The Indianapolis Colts held off a valiant effort from the winless Detroit Lions this week to win 31-21. The Colts now have a record of 10-4 and are one win away from clinching a wildcard position because they would win all tie-breakers due to the fact they only have two losses in the AFC. The AFC East division is wild horse race with 3 teams tied at 9-5 including the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, and New England Patriots. The Jets hold the tie-breaker as of now, but every team will need to win out. New York received a gift on one of the wildest plays of the weekend. Down by 3 points to the Bills with under 2 ½ minutes to go in the game, QB J.P Losman fumbled the football that led to a Jets recovery for a touchdown. The play was huge in keeping the Jets in playoff contention and an absolute nightmare for the Bills. Buffalo should have been running the ball, but tried to get fancy and it cost them big time. That single play had huge consequences for a number of team’s playoff chances and hopes.

The Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots both picked up wins this weekend keeping pace with the New York Jets. The Patriots may have a slight advantage considering Miami and New York will meet in the last game of the season. The Patriots blew out the Raiders 49-26 and will get two struggling teams in Arizona and Buffalo to close out the season. Miami held on to a defensive battle to beat the 49ers 14-9 as well Sunday. The Dolphins victory kept things on the right path and they will need two more wins for a chance at the playoffs. Baltimore, Miami, New England, and New York all stand at the 9-5 mark and one loss would be devastating for any of those teams. The Ravens have perhaps been the strongest of the 4 this season, but they will take on the Dallas Cowboys in what appears to be a tough game next week. Week 16 in the NFL season promises to be as exciting as this past week as these playoff contenders leave everything on the field in their quest to make the postseason.

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No Recession for the Yankees…

December 12th, 2008 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor)

The New York Yankees proved once again they are the wealthiest team in Major League Baseball. The Yankees signed superstar C.C Sabathia to a 7 year contract worth a mind boggling 161 million dollars. The huge deal equals the highest paying contract ever for a Major League pitcher. The deal is also the 4th highest paid contract in the history of Major League Baseball. For the Yankees to spend this type of money on a pitcher, represents the desperate attempt the New York franchise has pulled to get their team back to winning World Championship for the first time since 2000.

While many teams have been slow to dish out big money contracts or deals due to the slumping economy, the Yankees have flexed the financially charged muscle. New York just moved across the Bronx, to their brand new 1.6 billion dollar place that is the New Yankee Stadium. The new stadium is the most luxurious among all Major League Baseball stadiums today. Tickets for the new ballpark are in the $2,500 range where people can watch the game from bars and clubhouses containing swimming pools, hot tubs, and anything else you can imagine. Yep, it’s safe to say the Yankees are not struggling when it comes to money despite the majority of teams who have cut back on franchise spending in fear of losing tons of money due to the economy.

The new contract with pitcher C.C Sabathia is simply another prime example of what New York has done for years. The Yankees have simply made an effort to buy World Championships. The New York Yankees franchise is estimated at an incredible 950 million dollars. The value equals twice the amount of 27 out of 29 franchises in Major League Baseball and nearly 300 million ahead of the 2nd most wealthy team in the MLB the Boston Red Sox. Considering that there is no salary cap in baseball, the Yankees have the opportunity to spend basically whatever they choose. New York has the ability to sign and spend money that no other team in baseball can even compare. The Yankees however have still not been able to produce a World Championship in 8 years. The Steinbrenner’s, who own the franchise, are willing to fork out money that seems unfair to ensure the Yankees have success no matter the cost.

The Yankees have been quoted as being “the best team money can buy.” The Sabathia deal is just another event that displays the financial monopoly that is the New York Yankees. Despite the argument that C.C Sabathia most likely is not worth the amount of the lucrative contract, the Yanks have enough money to sign these types of deals with no worries. New York over the past 8 years since their last World Championship has amassed a level of talent that is similar to that of an all-star team. Any team that has the money to accumulate the best two players in their sport has too much power. The Yankees have just that in superstars Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.

Simply look at the New York roster and you can see the level of financial superiority. The Yankees have a roster of all-star and future Hall of Fame players. You do not even have to be familiar with baseball to know the names Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Hideki Matsui, and now C.C Sabathia. If it were possible, New York would simply buy World Championship rings every year and claim the Championship rather than winning it with the unlimited amount of revenue that flows through the program. However, New York has to settle for buying a team that others could only dream of buying. Still the World Championships have yet to come. If New York fails to capture a Championship in the next few years, can you imagine how much more desperate and lucrative financial movements that will be made to ensure success. New York definitely benefits from a professional league without a salary cap. I mean can you really blame the Yankees for spending more money than any other team since they have that option. Surely the sporting world must admire the Yankee’s determination and ‘whatever it takes’ attitude to win despite how much you love or hate them.


NFC Playoff Scenarios (After Week 14)

December 10th, 2008 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor)

Early this week we broke down the entire AFC playoff race. Now we take a look at the NFC playoff picture and where each playoff contender stands. Who possibly could be the best team and which teams could make a deep run in the postseason.

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New York Giants (11-2) – The Giants own the best record in the NFC and the 2nd best record in the NFL. They have officially clinched the NFC East and are one game away from a first round bye. New York took a blow from the Philadelphia Eagles last week in a 20-14 defeat. Star WR Plexico Burress is out for the year after the gunshot wound and weapons charges he is currently facing. Will the distraction be enough to derail one of the NFL’s hottest teams? The former Super Bowl Champions have backed up last year’s season well and are favorites to win the NFC. However, one must wonder if New York may have peaked too soon?

Dallas Cowboys (8-5) – The Cowboys looked in good position last week to score a huge victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Then the Steelers routed 17 straight points in the final 7 minutes of the game to beat Dallas. The loss really hurt the Cowboys chances at making the postseason given they have a really tough schedule the rest of the way. Many believe Dallas has to win out to make the playoffs, but I believe they still have a good shot if they win at least two of their last 3 games. The Cowboys will hold the tie-breaker over Tampa Bay and Atlanta if those teams were to end with the same record. Still Dallas has to play New York, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. Two wins may be asking enough much less three.

Washington Redskins (7-6) – The Redskins are mathematically still in the hunt even though their chances do not look good. Washington is in dire need to win out or the playoff hopes will be gone. Even if the Redskins do win out they could still need some help from other teams to advance. Washington has a fairly soft schedule the rest of the way but they have a classic NFC East battle with Philadelphia in a few weeks. The Redskins have lost 4 of their last 5 games and the offense has been missing in action. The Redskins have a tall mountain to climb in this one and will most likely not being playing after the regular season.

Philadelphia Eagles (7-5-1) – Ironically a tie is better than a loss. Philadelphia stands much better chance to make the playoffs with that tie and they are playing well right now. The Eagles defeated the Giants last week and blew out Arizona the week before. Their last 3 games are against Cleveland, Washington, and Dallas. The Eagles will be favored to win the first two and the battle with Dallas could very well decide which one of those teams earns the final wildcard spot. The Eagles really need to run the table because a loss would most likely eliminate all chances they have.

Minnesota Vikings (8-5) – The Vikings had a slow start to the regular season losing 3 out of their first 4 games. However, Minnesota rebound nicely and now has won 5 of their last 6 games led by running back Adrian Peterson. The Vikings benefit from a weaker conference and hold a one game advantage of the Chicago Bears. Minnesota has a tough road ahead taking on teams like New York Giants, Arizona, and Atlanta to close out the season. The best option for the Vikings is to hope the Bears can not close the gap in the NFC North.

Chicago Bears (7-6) – Despite having a record barely over .500 the Bears still have a good chance to win the NFC North. Chicago has struggled to post the necessary points to keep up with a few teams and they need to catch on surge on the offensive side of the ball. While they definitely have the softer schedule compared to the Vikings, the Bears will have to win at the very least two games to have a chance. If there happen to be a tie with Minnesota, the Bears would lose to the tie-breaker making their chances even dimmer.

Carolina Panthers (10-3) – The Panthers captured their biggest win of the season last Monday night manhandling the Buccaneers 38-23 in route to nearly 300 yards on the ground. The Panthers have emerged out of the NFC South and are playing very well. Carolina has the tools similar to Tennessee in the AFC in a very dangerous ground attack and a superb defense. Notice how the Titans are doing in the AFC, this type of football works. Despite the strong record the Panthers still can not afford to slip as Tampa could hold the tie-breaker by the end of the season with a better in conference record. Still, Carolina will most likely be in the playoffs and will probably find a way to win the division. The Panthers have the ingredients to beat anybody in the NFL and primed for a deep run in the postseason. If the Panthers manage to win out, they will get home field advantage throughout the playoffs which would be huge considering they have not lost at home all season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-4) – The Buccaneers could have really helped themselves with a victory over Carolina last week. Now they will take on the Atlanta Falcons in a game of equal importance. The Bucs had won 4 in a row prior to last week’s loss and they need to rebound and score a victory. The Buccaneers last 3 games involve two AFC opponents. This could really help because even if they loss it would be an out of conference loss which would help in tie-breaking scenarios. Tampa Bay will be favorites to win two of those games convincingly and a win over Atlanta would pretty much seal the deal. The Tampa Bay vs. Atlanta game could be an elimination game for both teams.

Atlanta Falcons (8-5) – The Falcons suffered a disappointing loss last week 29-24 from the New Orleans Saints. Atlanta still has a reasonable chance to make the playoff, but absolutely must beat Tampa Bay this weekend. Rookie QB Matt Ryan is a superstar in the making and is getting better week by week. Atlanta has a legitimate chance to win out and they may just have to because two wins may not be enough. Since week 4 every loss the Falcons faced, they have bounced back with two straight wins. Well this time they will need to bounce back with 3 straight wins. A loss to Tampa Bay however will end all hopes.

Arizona Cardinals (8-5) – Arizona clinched the NFC West last week with a win over the St. Louis Rams. Kurt Warner has led the Cardinal offense that has become one of the best in the NFL. Arizona offense can give any opposing defense nightmares. The Cardinals are another team that benefits from a weak conference, but they can be a legitimate threat. The Arizona defense has in return struggled this season giving up 25 points per game. If the defense could come on strong and catch a late season surge, this could be a very dangerous football team.

The following teams are completely eliminated from the NFC playoff picture: Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams

The following teams aren’t eliminated but have absolutley no chance: New Orleans Saints, Washington Redskins

The following teams are not even worthy of mentioning: “The Winless Detroit Lions”


AFC Playoff Scenarios (After Week 14)

December 9th, 2008 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor)

The NFL playoff hunt is in full stride as teams are battling to get every victory possible. Every loss and every win is huge this time of the year because one game can make or break the entire team’s season. Take a look at what teams are in, who still has a chance, and what some need to do to be playing in the postseason. We break down the AFC playoff picture as the NFL season winds down:

Tennessee Titans (12-1) – The Titans have solidified their playoff hopes by clinching the AFC South this past weekend and also sealing a first round bye. Tennessee controls their destiny in the playoffs in trying to capture home field advantage. The Titans simply have to beat Pittsburgh in two weeks or win 2 of their last 3 games to rap up home field advantage throughout the playoffs. They hold the best record in the NFL and look ready to make a deep playoff run.

Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3) – Pittsburgh owns the 2nd best record in the AFC at 10-3 and winner of 4 straight games. The Steelers have a huge game with Baltimore this Sunday. If Pittsburgh wins, they will clinch the AFC North and guarantee themselves a playoff position. Pittsburgh is in great shape, but has some tough games to close out the season. A win this weekend is a must considering they will battle Tennessee in two weeks. The Steelers would have to lose their last 3 games and then some other teams would have to finish strong for Pittsburgh to be kept out of the postseason.

Denver Broncos (8-5) – Denver has all but clinched the AFC West division. The Broncos just need to get one more victory or even a tie would seal the deal. Also, a loss from the San Diego Chargers in any of their last 3 games would officially put Denver into the playoffs. You can basically count the Broncos into the playoffs given the weakest division in the AFC. Due to that fact, the Broncos will most certainly be playing in the first week of the postseason and there are zero chances for them earning a bye.

New York Jets (8-5) – Two weeks ago the Jets looked to easily make the playoffs as they owned a two game lead in the AFC East. After losing two straight games to weak teams, New York finds themselves in a 3 way tie for the division with Miami and New England. The Jets will have the chance to greatly improve their odds when they take on Miami in the final week of the season. With a fairly easy schedule from here on out, New York must be thinking they have to win out to make the playoffs. If they lose two games, it might not be enough considering Baltimore and Indianapolis hold better records in the wildcard picture.

New England Patriots (8-5) – The Patriots could be in the best position to come out ahead of that 3 way dog fight in the AFC East. New England benefits because Miami and New York will play each other and one of those teams are sure to score a loss. New England has the chance to win the next 3 games if they can manage to pull off a victory over the Cardinals at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots other two games showcase struggling teams such as Buffalo and Oakland. Like the Jets, New England needs to run the table or at least win 2 out of 3 to have a shot.

Miami Dolphins (8-5) – Miami has a chance to make the playoffs? After only winning one game all last year, the Dolphins have a chance to win the division and make the playoffs. Sounds crazy, but Miami is actually playing the best football out of everyone in the AFC East. The Dolphins get New York in what seems to be the game that could decide who makes the postseason in the final week of the season. The Dolphins have San Francisco and Kansas City left on the schedule and there is definitely a possibility they could close out with 3 more wins. Miami has won 6 of their last 7 games and will need at 2 more, most likely 3.

Baltimore Ravens (9-4) – Baltimore will play in their biggest game of the season this Sunday when they basically play for the division championship. If the Ravens lose, Pittsburgh will clinch the AFC North. Still regardless of this weekend, Baltimore still has a good chance to make the playoffs. Their record ties with Indianapolis for the best teams for the wildcard spot. Baltimore has a tough road to get their through Pittsburgh, Dallas, and Jacksonville. If the Ravens can pull out two of those victories, they will be in.

Indianapolis Colts (9-4) – Do not count out the Colts. Peyton Manning has led a late season charge winning 6 straight games and Indianapolis is in the middle of the playoff battle despite being written off after a 3-4 start. The Colts get the Lions next week and one must consider that a win given that Detroit is still winless this season. Indianapolis can win 2 out of their last 3 games and make the playoffs through a wildcard position. Considering the way Peyton and the offense has come on in the 2nd half on the season, the Colts could surprise some teams in the playoffs as well.

The following teams are completely eliminated from the AFC playoff picture:
Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs

The following teams aren’t eliminated but have absolutley no chance: Buffalo Bills

Be sure to check back for the NFC breakdown in the next day or two…


Top 10 Most Interesting Bowl Game Previews

December 8th, 2008 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor)

The College Football Bowl Schedule has now been released and we look forward to an exciting college football postseason. The Holiday season looks to bring a number of big football match-ups and conference showdowns. While all the Bowl games look to be exciting, we break down the top 10 Bowl Games to watch over the Holidays.

Hawaii Bowl10.
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl (Honolulu, HI)
Hawaii Warriors (7-6) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-6)

The Hawaii Warriors will stay on the island the postseason as they host the Fighting Irish. The Irish barely made it into the postseason and will be fighting to end their NCAA record 9 straight bowl games losses. The Warriors played very well to end the season while the Irish only won once out of the last 5 games of the season. The Hawaii bowl has not been very popular for the media over the years, but Notre Dame should bring some attention to the island this time around.

Champs Sports Bowl9. Champs Sports Bowl (Orlando, Florida)
Florida State Seminoles (8-4) vs. Wisconsin Badgers (7-5)

The Seminoles were the class of the ACC for much of the early season, but fell off a bit down the stretch. The Noles won 6 of their first 7 games, but simply ran out of steam late in the year. Wisconsin went through a tough middle season stretch losing 4 games in a row but recovered towards the end of the year nicely. The Badgers failed to score any impressive victories this year in the Big 10 or outside the conference for that matter. The advantage should go to Florida State in this game considering Wisconsin has struggled against strong defenses plus the Seminoles stay inside the state and will not have travel very far.

Outback Bowl8. Outback Bowl (Tampa, FL)
South Carolina Gamecocks (7-5) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (8-4)

The Outback Bowl has had a history of great games between the SEC and the Big 10. South Carolina defeated Ohio State in their last two trips to the Outback Bowl in 2000 and 2001. Iowa ruined Penn State’s chances at a National Championship this season with a 24-23 victory. The Hawkeyes closed out the season pretty well winning 5 of their last 6 games. This game should be a low scoring affair showcasing two of the better defenses in college football. South Carolina should have the advantage if they can keep from turning over the ball which has been their problem all year. Still, this game has the makings to be a very physical SEC vs. Big 10 battle.

Gator Bowl 7. Konica Minolta Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, FL)
Clemson Tigers (7-5) vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-4)

The Clemson Tigers rebounded very well from their early season meltdown. The Tigers started the year ranked #9 in the nation, but things quickly fell apart. Tommy Bowden resigned as Coach leaving the team to interim coach Dabo Swinney. The Tigers ended the year strong winning 4 of their last 5 games and earned Swinney the Head Coach Job at Clemson. Nebraska on the other hand had a solid season from start to end. The Cornhuskers 3 of 4 losses came from teams ranked in the top 7 in the country at that particular time. This game will be fun to watch because anything could happen. Nebraska could hold the slight edge considering they have an offense that tends to score a lot of points while Clemson has been subject to inconsistency.

Fiesta Bowl6. Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Glendale, Arizona)
#3 Texas Longhorns (11-1) vs. #10 Ohio State (10-2)

This game probably has a sour taste for Longhorn fans considering they may feel they should have had a shot to play in the National Championship. The Longhorns were kept out of the Big 12 and BCS Title Game due to the BCS System which has failed miserably with the number of quality football teams this season. Texas beat Oklahoma but the computer ranking placed Oklahoma in the title game. Texas has the ability to play with anyone in the country and will be the favorite over the Buckeyes. Ohio State will not be playing in a National Championship this year as they have over the past two seasons when they were beat in both games by the teams from the SEC. The Buckeyes will bring a tough defense and strong running attack, but doubtfully will have the power to keep up with the Longhorns offense.

Poinsettia Bowl 5. Poinsettia Bowl (San Diego, CA)
TCU Horned Frogs (10-2) vs. #9 Boise State Broncos (12-0)
This particular match-up has the makings to be a great game. Boise State is one of only two undefeated teams left in college football along with Utah. This game will be a grudge match when the Boise State offense meets a stout TCU defense. The Horned Frogs two losses this season came from Oklahoma and a 3 point loss to Utah. TCU is a very physical team that will give the Broncos a tough time. Boise State has been strong on both sides of the ball this season and has a very dangerous scoring offense that can strike quickly. The stage is set for a very exciting game as two different styles of football meet. Boise State tends to score a lot of points while TCU games are usually low score defensive struggles. Boise State should be the favorite, but TCU perhaps will be prime for the upset. Anybody could win this one.

Sugar Bowl4. Allstate Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA)
#4 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1) vs. #7 Utah Utes (12-0)

Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide will not get to play for a National Title after losing the SEC Championship. However, the Crimson Tide will get a chance to do what no team has done this season in defeating Utah. The Utes ended the year as one of only two undefeated teams in America earning them an at-large BCS Bowl bid. Alabama will bring the power of the SEC to do battle with the Mountain West Champions. The game has important implications regarding the current BCS System. If Utah could pull of the victory, the definitely have the argument they should have been giving the chance to play in a National Championship despite their relatively easy schedule this season. Alabama should be able to win this game in the trenches, but as Boise State proved against Oklahoma, anything can happen.

Cotton Bowl3. AT&T Cotton Bowl (Dallas, TX)
#8 Texas Tech (11-1) vs. #20 Mississippi Rebels (8-4)

Texas Tech ended the season with one loss just like other Big 12 teams Oklahoma and Texas. The Red Raiders lost the conference tie-breaker considering they were ranked around #10 in the nation after suffering a blowout loss to Oklahoma. I have this game ranked higher than where many would rank this game because I feel it stages an interesting matchup between the SEC and Big 12. The Red Raiders were ranked as high as #2 in the nation this year with their explosive high scoring offense. Houston Nutt has done a heck of a job at Mississippi this season leading the Rebels to an 8-4 record with more wins than the previous two seasons combined. The Rebels are the only team to beat Florida this season as well. While Texas Tech will be the favorite, Mississippi will try to come up with a defensive scheme to confuse the Red Raider offense. One of the best in the Big 12 takes on an SEC team to be considered middle of the road in their conference.

Rose Bowl2. Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA)
#5 Southern Cal Trojans (11-1) vs. #6 Penn State Nittany Lions (11-1)

A pair of one loss conference champions square off in Pasadena, California. USC won the Pac-10 Title this season while Penn State grabbed the Big 10 crown. Both teams have a legitimate argument that they deserved attention for playing in the National Championship, and one team will try to justify that argument. USC is playing as good of defense as anyone in college football while Penn State was a single point away from having a perfect season. This clash of titans will take place in the home of the Trojans where they will be playing in their 4th straight Rose Bowl. Considering the level of play the Trojan defense has played this season, I give the advantage to USC in this matchup.

1. BCS National Championship (Miami,FL)
#1 Oklahoma Sooners (12-1) vs. #2 Florida Gators (12-1)
Despite the BCS controversy, the two best teams in the National will be playing in college football’s biggest game. The Sooners and the Gators separated themselves from the rest of the college football world with their huge blowouts and explosive offense. This title game will be extremely exciting to watch and you can bet that there will be a bunch of points scored. Two of the best scoring offenses in the nation will square off and all eyes will be watching this epic battle. The Sooners will be gunning to dethrone the SEC from the 2 year reign as National Champions while Florida will be trying to win their 2nd Championship in 3 years. Oklahoma broke a NCAA record to end the season becoming the first team ever to score 60 points or more in 5 straight games. Florida blew through the SEC with blowouts like no team has in a very long time and sealed the deal with a tough SEC Championship victory over Alabama. It seems like neither team is possible of being defeated considering how well they have been playing late in the season. The interesting matchup to watch will be if the Gators defense be able to slow down the Sooner offense. I would like to give the advantage to Oklahoma, but the SEC has proven that they are a conference that breeds National Titles.

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“ACC vs Big East” College Basketball’s Best Conference

December 7th, 2008 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor)

The ACC has been the elite conference in college basketball for numerous years. The ACC holds two teams ranked in the top 5 in all-time NCAA wins. The Duke Blue Devils and the North Carolina Tarheels are amongst the most winning programs in NCAA history and they still hold strong a top the ACC today. These two programs along with the supporting cast of teams like Maryland, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and others have made this the greatest conference in college basketball for many years. Today the ACC Empire still stands, but there is a new empire being built on the horizon.

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The Big East has become perhaps the most difficult conference in all of college basketball. In today’s rankings, the Big East is proud to represent 7 teams in the Top 25 rankings according to the Associated Press Polls. They can easily make their case for having the best conference top to bottom in the nation. Also, the Big East has 4 teams ranked in the top 11 teams in America. #2 Connecticut, #3 Pittsburgh, #7 Notre Dame, and # 11 Louisville make up the front runners for the Big East and believe me nobody wants to have these teams on their schedule. The talent and success level in the Big East has been steadily rising every year and now is at a point to be considered America’s best college basketball conference. However, the ACC is not ready to hand over the crown.

#1 North Carolina leads the ACC and their dominance has caught attention early in the season. The Tarheels are clearly the early favorite for winning the National Championship. North Carolina handled one of the better Big East teams in Notre Dame defeating the Fighting Irish by 15 points in a one sided affair. The ACC sports 4 teams in the Top 25 lead by #1 North Carolina and #4 Duke. Meaning the Big East and ACC represent the top 4 teams in college basketball today. The ACC has the history of National Titles and legendary success on their side, but do they hold the advantage for the future?

The best conference debate is clearly a two horse race between the ACC and the Big East. Together the two conferences nearly account for half of the Top 25 teams in America. While some may be hesitant to claim the Big East has overtaken the ACC, the Big East has the slight lead going 4-3 heads up with the ACC so far early in the season. Last season, North Carolina went further in the NCAA Tournament than any other school from the two conferences. However, the Big East had three teams to make the sweet sixteen compared to just one for the ACC. The year before in 2007 again only one ACC team made the sweet sixteen (North Carolina) while two Big East teams made the sweet sixteen with Georgetown going to the final four. Last year, the Big East put twice as many schools in the NCAA Tournament compared to the ACC with 8 teams making the dance.

History shows that the ACC has 10 National Championships to their resume. While many do not consider the Big East with the legacy equal to that of the ACC, the Big East also holds 10 National Championships to their resume. Surprising? That’s right both conferences have the exact same numbers of National Titles. However, since 1990 the ACC has won 6 Championships compared to only two from the Big East. Perhaps this may answer why so many people are quick to rank the ACC ahead of the Big East. The Dukes and North Carolinas over the years have been the most consistent powerhouses in college basketball and that is why the ACC could still hold the slight edge.

The Big East is emerging more and more every season. The conference has nearly reached the point of no return. They are so close to winning a couple National Championships and declaring their status as the best in college basketball. Only time will tell if they will be able to elevate their conference status and one of their elite teams score a Championship. For now, the season goes on with both conferences raising the bar for talent level and success.

The ACC remains a top the polls with the very talented North Carolina Tarheels while their #4 Duke Blue Devils suffered their first loss and will drop in the rankings. The Big East eagerly awaits the Tarheels to slip up, and allow their two teams to become #1 and #2 in the NCAA. The season has just begun, but the excitement is building for March madness already. Will a school from the ACC or the Big East be able to make a deep run in the postseason? Will the ACC be able to achieve more success in the NCAA Tournament this season or will the Big East keep striving? No matter how you rate either conference’s history or status, you must pay attention to the war between the ACC and the Big East to be considered the best in college basketball.


Oscar De La Hoya vs. Manny “Pac-man” Pacquiao

December 5th, 2008 by Travis Edwards (Bankroll Sports Contributor)

Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao will go head to head in an epic boxing match this Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas, NV. The fight marks the biggest boxing event this year between two of the sports most popular fighters. De La Hoya has been a superstar in the boxing world for many years while Pacquiao has held 4 different major titles and is trying to make his name known around the world.

Oscar De La Hoya is a Pacquiao vs. DeLaHoyavery accomplished veteran and will be fighting down in the 147 pound weight class for the first time since 2001. De La Hoya has been scrutinized by critics for fighting Pacquiao and not fighting someone more closely to his 154 or 160 pound division. The fight marks the heaviest division Pacquiao has ever fought in his career at the 147lb mark. De La Hoya should have the advantage in the fight considering this is closer to his normal size weight class and his history of battling top competitors at the welterweight division. A victory for De La Hoya will not come easy as Pacquiao is known as pound for pound the best boxer on the planet.

Manny Pacquiao is a multi-division champion like De La Hoya who has a quick and aggressive style of boxing. Pacquiao started his career fighting at 106 pounds and has stayed in the 120 pound range his entire career. However, this Saturday he will step on the scales and weigh in nearly 30 pounds heavier than normal. Pacquiao likes to stay right outside his opponents reach and then attack with quick flurries of jabs and hooks staging the battle to be very exciting to watch. The tough southpaw will be trying to end this fight before the scheduled 12 rounds.

This fight is being called the “Dream Fight” by boxing enthusiast everywhere. In the midst of a recession and the emergence of mixed martial arts, this fight is expected to bring in one of the biggest revenues in recent years. HBO is televising the event exclusively on Pay Per View. The fight is expected to exceed 1.5 million viewers and possibly reach the 100 million dollar revenue which would definitely get the world of boxing back in the spotlight.

At 35 years of age Oscar De La Hoya has a career record of (39-5) with 30 knockouts. De La Hoya is figured to have the power to land another knockout if he can land a big punch this Saturday night. However, Pacquiao known as “Pac-Man” is one of the fastest hitters in boxing. Pacquiao has a (47-3-2) record with 35 wins coming by way of knockout. Pacquiao has the ability to throw an array of punches as fast automatic machine gun making him one of the most dangerous opponents to face.

De La Hoya will hold the size advantage as previously mentioned, by nearly 4 inches in height and 6 inches in reach. De La Hoya will step into the right at 5-10 ½ compared to Pacquiao standing at 5-6 ½. De La Hoya reach is measured at 73 inches while Pacquiao will be fighting with a 67 inch reach. The fight will be an epic battle of power vs. speed, and a young gun vs. the veteran. The fight could be a making or breaking point in the boxing career for Oscar De La Hoya. De La Hoya has reached 35 years of age and many think he has already hit his prime and now is slowly going down hill, while Pacquiao would love to score a high profile victory. This fight could play out huge when considering the two boxer’s careers.

Keys to Victory…
Oscar De La Hoya must keep out of range from Pacquiao’s quick burst of flurries. De La Hoya should have the advantage with footwork in the fight and will be looking to land a big punch when the opportunity is right. De La Hoya is predicted by many to be able to knock Pacquiao out if he can land a big punch early, but if this does not happen De La Hoya must be smart and try to wear down the young boxer and take him into late rounds.

Pacquiao must do the near opposite and come trying to stun the wily veteran. If Pacquiao can come out and land a few quick punches in a row, then he has the speed to surprise the world. Pacquiao must be able to stay away from De La Hoya’s reach advantage and pick his spots to attack. Pac-man will be looking to retain his stature of being the best pound for pound boxer in the world when he goes for the knockout Saturday night.

Current Fight Odds…
As for the current fight odds, the Bookies are favoring the “Golden Boy” De La Hoya in the fight to be able and handle the young aggressive but perhaps undersized Pacquiao. Bodog Sportsbook has numerous ways to bet on the fight including live round by round betting. Bodog‘s current odds have De La Hoya is listed as the favorite with a betting line of -170; while Pacquiao listed at +140 as the underdog. The over/under total for rounds in the fight is set at 9 ½ rounds. Taking the under odds are listed at -190 and if you decide to take the over the odds will stand at +155.

Fight Prediction:
A loss here would really tarnish De La Hoya’s amazing career and reputation. The veteran will most likely find a way to get it done with a probable knockout in the 7 or 8th round. Take De La Hoya and bet it at Bodog who currently has the best line at -170. Most books are leveling off at-180 for the ‘Golden Boy’. Enjoy the fight.