COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK SIX – Your betting guide to Week 9

The big Colleges have played the soft part of the schedule and now it really counts. MyClubBetting handicapper and Lindy’s Sports UK Editor Simon Milham takes a look at the betting trends and some of the best bets ahead of Week 9 of the 2015/16 NCAAF season…

(Handicap is denoted by +/- for the home team)

WEST VIRGINIA at TCU

(-13.5, Total Points 73.5)

Thursday, 23:30

There is an early start to Week 9 with the 3-3 West Virginia Mountaineers travelling to the undefeated Texas Christian Union, hoping to avoid their fourth straight defeat.

Aaron Green TCU
Aaron Green: Powerhouse

The Horned Frogs cannot afford to have any losses if they are to compete in the College Football Playoffs and they will rely on stud running back Aaron Green, who was bottled up by Iowa State in his last appearance.

TCU possess one of the best receivers in the Big 12, in the shape of Josh Doctson and he will be a major threat. We look to him to score at least one touchdown and maybe more. He will go over 150 yards receiving, too.

Turnovers have been one of the major reasons why West Virginia has not made progress. Quarterback Skyler Howard has turned the ball over nine times in the three Big 12 conference games.

His counterpart, Trevone Boykin should have a big night, as the Mountaineers’ secondary was torched by Baylor’s Seth Russell, who blasted them for 380 yards and six touchdowns – and Boykin is a better passer.

We see plenty of points in this, with WVUs Jovon Durante keeping the Horned Frogs honest. Yet this could get away from The Mountaineers and we take the hosts to cover a lofty spread.

BEST BET: OVER 73.5 POINTS @ 1.91

NORTH CAROLINA at PITTSBURGH

(+3.5, Total Points 54.5)

Thursday, 23:00

North Carolina and Pittsburgh are a combined 12-2 entering Week 9. Not many people would have predicted that.
And in Pittsburgh’s case, their sole loss came to undefeated Iowa on a 57-yard field goal. Other than that, they have been perfect.

Quadree Ollison
Next man up: Quadree Ollison

Pitt has survived without top running back James Conner thanks to Quadree Ollison, who has stepped up remarkably well, and suddenly this ACC battle, which you can see live on BT Sport, becomes hugely important.

Since their opening game loss to North Carolina, the Tar Heels have been unbeaten, largely thanks to the makeover orchestrated by defensive coordinator Gene Chizik.

Pitt are considered a field-goal underdog in their own house, but they keep finding ways to get the job done. Pitt has never lost three consecutive meetings and they are worth taking with the start.

BEST BET: PITTSBURGH +3.5 @ 1.80

GEORGIA at FLORIDA

(2.5, Total Points 45.5)

Saturday, 19:30

There is one way to ease the pain of Trick or Treaters knocking on your door when you are in the middle watching Georgia take on Florida on BT Sport this Saturday evening (besides shooting the little blighters), and that is to join – in spirit – the world’s largest outdoor cocktail party.

Treon Harris
Treon Harris: Difference-maker

The Gators (6-1 overall, 4-1 in the SEC) enter with a more impressive resume, with its lone loss (two weeks ago at LSU) coming by just one touchdown and they are deservedly a 2.5-point favourite. Georgia (5-2, 3-2) in its past three games was blown out at home by Alabama, lost after blowing a 21-point lead at Tennessee, and eked out a 9-6 win over Missouri.

Throw in last year’s 38-20 loss and Georgia should rightly feel they are the underdawgs (see what we did there?).

This is only the second time since 2009 that Florida has been favoured. The other time was 2012, and Georgia won that game.

The quarterback match-up is a wash between Florida’s Treon Harris and Georgia’s Greyson Lambert. Florida has the superior defense and also has the mental edge because of its success in Jacksonville over the past 25 years.

UGA took a major confidence hit against Alabama and lost a 21-point lead at Tennessee, so it is possible that the Bulldogs are on the ropes.

They did pull out a narrow win over Missouri, but the offense struggled mightily, and while they have a good stable of running backs, we take Florida to edge it, probably by a one score margin.

And if we’re wrong, as least we’d have had a few cocktails!

BEST BET: FLORIDA -2.5 @ 1.8

NOTRE DAME at TEMPLE

(+9.5, Total Points 47.5)

Sunday, 00:00

No.9-ranked Notre Dame are on the rise, but they face the acid test when they travel to Philadelphia to take on the unbeaten Temple Owls – another game you can see at midnight on BT Sport this Saturday.

Ron Stanley
Man mountain: Ron Stanley

The Fighting Irish’s defense against the run is a bit flaky, but their offensive line, led by Ron Stanley, is going to provide some big running lanes as they aim to stay perfect on Halloween games (15-0 all-time).

C.J. Prosise has five 100-yard rushing games this year – the most by a Notre Dame player since Darius Walker had six in 2006.

Over the past 50 years Notre Dame is 11-7-2 against teams with a record of 7-0 or better and their 41-31 victory over USC two weeks ago showed their fighting spirit, rallying from a seven-point fourth quarter deficit with scoring drives of 90 and 91 yards.

Notre Dame’s only stumble this year was a 24-22 setback over Clemson on October 3.

Temple are no mugs. Their defense is a veteran unit and one that has the Owls on the inside track for an American Conference title. They are 8th in the country in scoring defense, rank No.6 against the run and have allowed 14.6 points per game.

The issue for the Owls is their attack. It is definitely a work in progress, although there has been improvement from the offensive line. Which has allowed just seven sacks.

We are taking a chance here. While we like the Unders, we will side with the owls in receipt of the points in their biggest game for many years.

BEST BET: TEMPLE +9.5 @ 1.91

GEORGIA TECH at VIRGINIA

(+6, Total Points 54)

Saturday, 19:00

Georgia Tech seek a fourth straight victory over Virginia, something they have not achieved since 1983 and they have a chance of salvaging their season after a 3-5 start. Four games remain for Paul Johnson’s team and they need six wins to become Bowl eligible.

D.J. White
Fit and firing: D. J. White

The Yellow Jackets should get the first of those required wins against Virginia, although victories in remaining games against Virginia Tech, Miami and Georgia are far from certain.

Last week’s shock win over Florida State has energised the Yellow Jackets and we expect them to show up in Charlottesville with a sense of purpose, particularly with top cornerback D.J. White now fit again.

Virginia’s frustration at losing five second-half turnovers in a 26-13 loss to North Carolina is understandable. Yet they played one of their best games of the year. The running game was solid, racking up 205 yards at 5.3 yards per pop, and they eclipsed their highest offensive output by 40 yards.

Yet it was their defense that impressed most. UNC has one of the best attacks in college football and Virginia became the first team to hold them under 38 points since their season opener. The defense was asked several times to deal with a short field and the fact that just six points came from those turnovers speaks volumes.

The worst of the schedule is behind them but improvement may have come too late to see Virginia in a Bowl for the first time in four years.

This is a tough call, but we feel Georgia Tech has the momentum to win a close one and cover the spread.

BEST BET: GEORGIA TECH -6 @ 1.91

OKLAHOMA STATE at TEXAS TECH

(+3, Total Points 77.5)

Saturday, 19:30

Texas Tech has won the last six meetings with the last four all topping the 70-point barrier.

Lubbock
Intimidating: Jones AT&T Stadium

However, while there should be a few areal fireworks, there is reason to think the line might not be breached this time.

Texas Tech (5-3, 2-3 Big 12) enters the contest following a 63-27 loss at No. 17 Oklahoma on Saturday. Texas Tech already has registered five wins on the year, one more victory than it registered during the 2014 season.

In undefeated and first-place Oklahoma State (7-0, 4-0 Big 12), Texas Tech faces its sixth Big 12 opponent of the year.

Saturday’s game will mark the 43rd all-time meeting between Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. The Red Raiders lead the series with a 21-18-3 advantage, including a 12-5-2 mark in games played in Lubbock. This is the fourth time already for Texas Tech during Big 12 play where both teams enter averaging at least 40 points per game.

Texas Tech continues to boast one of the nation’s top offenses as the Red Raiders rank third nationally in total offense and passing offense.

On 34 offensive plays this season, the Red Raiders had a gain of at least 30 yards. There were touchdowns on 20 of those plays.

The reason why we think the line will go under is the Red Raiders’ inability to stop the run – that rank 125th nationally. During last week’s Sooners victory over Texas Tech, OU’s Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon rushed for a total of 355 yards. Their combined average per carry was 9.1 yards. So expect a few time-consuming drives on the ground.

We feel the hosts will not only win on the handicap, we feel OSU’s unbeaten record will go. They have played a soft schedule thus far and going to Lubbock will be a tough challenge.

BEST BET: Under 77.5 POINTS @ 1.91

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NFL PICK SIX – Your betting guide to Week 8

As the NFL enters Week 8, there are five undefeated teams – Carolina (6-0), Cincinnati (6-0), Denver (6-0), Green Bay (6-0) and New England (6-0). That marks the most 6-0 teams in a season in NFL history. The previous mark was four set in 2009.

Two of those teams – Green Bay and Denver – will meet on Sunday night when the Packers travel to Sports Authority Field at Mile High to face the Broncos. It is only the fourth game in NFL history – and the first in primetime – between two teams 6-0 or better and the first since 2007 (November 4) when the 8-0 New England Patriots defeated the 7-0 Indianapolis Colts.

MyClubBetting handicapper and Lindy’s Sports UK Editor Simon Milham takes a look at the betting trends and some of the best bets ahead of Week 8 of the 2015/16 NFL season. The odds are correct at the time of writing and are industry average.

(Handicap is denoted by +/- for the home team)

Tannehill
Upping his game: Tannehill

MIAMI at NEW ENGLAND

Friday, 01:25

(-7.5, Total Points 51)

The Dolphins have won two consecutive games under interim head coach Dan Campbell and the team’s 82 points in those two contests are the most in a coach’s first two NFL games in the past 25 seasons.

Last week, Miami defeated Houston 44-26 as the Dolphins jumped out to a 41-0 lead at half-time. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed 18 of 19 passes (94.7 percent) for 282 yards with four touchdowns, no interceptions and a 158.3 passer rating – the highest attainable mark – and completed his first 18 passes of the game. Combined with his seven completions in a row to end the previous game, Tannehill set an NFL record with 25 consecutive completions (Donovan McNabb, 24 in 2004).

“You look at our work out there and it really was a team effort,” says Tannehill.

The Patriots improved to 6-0 for only the third time in their history (2004, 2007) with a 30-23 win over the New York Jets. Quarterback Tom Brady (55,312) surpassed 55,000 career passing yards last week, becoming only the fifth quarterback in NFL history to accomplish the feat.

Tom Brady3
Inflated: Patriots and Brady are perfect

Against the Jets, Brady passed for 355 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, his NFL-record 17th game with at least 350 passing yards, two passing touchdowns and no interceptions.

“I’m really proud of our team,” says Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on the team’s win over the Jets. “It’s always good to come out on top. We’ve got a long way to go here. It’s a short turnaround and we’ll have to get ready in a hurry now for Miami.”

The Dolphins have played with a greater intensity over the past two weeks but their record at Foxboro is not a good one, having lost on eight of their last nine visits (including the last six – their longest run of road defeats since they first clashed in 1966).

In the past three games against the Dolphins, Julian Edelman has made 26 catches for 322 yards and scored two touchdowns. He could be a good bet to bag another at 1.91.

The Patriots have failed to cover big spreads in their last two home games and it is very rare that they fail to beat the number with such regularity. The Dolphins are hot, but their defence, particularly on the backend, lacks depth. If they don’t get pressure up front and rattle Brady early, it could be a long night. The Patriots may well put the Dolphins in their place again, but the odds for an upset are just too big to ignore. We think the Patriots will either win, covering the handicap, or they will lose – and the Dolphins’ odds of 4.00 is certainly worth a saver.

VERDICT: MIAMI 24 NEW ENGLAND 38

BEST BET: NEW ENGLAND -7.5 @ 1.91

DETROIT at KANSAS CITY

Sunday, 14:30

(-4.5, Total Points 45.5)

The third 2015 International Series Game marks the first time NFL games will be played on consecutive Sundays at London’s Wembley Stadium.

Jaguars at Wembley
London calling: The Bills and Jaguars last week

Last week, the Jacksonville Jaguars outlasted the Buffalo Bills 34-31 in the UK as rookie running back T.J. Yeldon rushed for 115 yards with a touchdown and quarterback Blake Bortles threw the game-winning touchdown pass (31 yards) to wide receiver Allen Hurns with 2:16 remaining.

The Chiefs will play their first game in London and the team’s first international game since a 1998 preseason contest against Green Bay in Tokyo, Japan.

“It is an honour for Kansas City to represent the NFL on an international stage,” says Chiefs President Mark Donovan. “We are excited for the opportunity this creates for our fans, our city and the global growth of the Chiefs brand.”

The Lions are traveling to London for the second consecutive year. Last season, Detroit knocked off Atlanta in a thrilling 22-21 come-from-behind victory.

“I really enjoyed the entire week,” says Lions wide receiver Golden Tate about last year’s experience. “I can’t say enough great things about everyone who welcomed us into the country. We’re happy to be able to come out and try to expand our game.”

The Chiefs have won four of the last six meetings with Detroit, who seek their third consecutive win over Kansas City, something they have never done.
They also made several coaching changes on Monday, including promoting 31-year-old quarterbacks coach Jim Bob Cooter to the offensive coordinator position. He will call the offensive play and anticipates some scheme changes.

The Chiefs are considered 3.5-point favourites by odds-makers and will seek to avenge a 48-3 beating the last time these two met (in 2011).

Nine of the last 13 International Series games at Wembley has seen a victory for the ‘road’ team (in this case, Detroit).

Jaguars at Wembley 2
After the storm: Wembley way

The Chiefs’ defense only had six interceptions last season – they have six already this term. Yet they have given up 28 plays of over 20-plus yards – only Baltimore (29), Detroit (31) and Indianapolis (32) have more.

With Kansas City’s ability to rush the passer and Detroit’s inability to keep Stafford protected, don’t expect the Lions to create too many big-play opportunities for Calvin Johnson.

Chiefs’ quarterback Alex Smith is not going to set the world alight, but the former No.1 draft pick is quietly putting together a nice season, completing 62.8 per cent of his passes for a total of 1,824 yards. His efficiency in the red zone can improve, as can his protection – only Russell Wilson (31) has been sacked more than Smith (25).

The Chiefs will be better if WR Jeremy Maclin, who has missed the last two games with concussion, returns. Defensive lineman Mike DeVito also missing the last two games, could be back.

We fancy the hosts to cover the spread and be the first team to get to 10 points at odds of 1.62.

VERDICT: KANSAS CITY 27 DETROIT 20

BEST BET: KANSAS CITY -4.5 @ 1.91

CINCINNATI at PITTSBURGH

Sunday, 16:00

(+1.5, Total Points 48.5)

The Bengals and Steelers will meet in an important AFC North showdown at Heinz Field.

Cincinnati, which had a bye in Week 7, is 6-0 for the third time in franchise history (1975, 1988). Since realignment in 2002, the Bengals are the first AFC North team to start a season 6-0.

Andy Dalton
Perfect start: Andy Dalton

Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton, who leads the league with a 116.1 passer rating, has 22 career wins on the road. With a victory at Pittsburgh, Dalton will tie Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan for the most road wins by a starting quarterback in his first five seasons during the Super Bowl era (since 1966).

“It’s huge to be 6-0,” says Dalton. “This is exactly where you want to be at this point. You want to win every game that you play so we just have to keep it going. We can’t look back at what we’ve done, we have to keep doing exactly what we have been doing and keep pushing to be the best we can be.”

Pittsburgh will look to rebound after last week’s 23-13 loss at Kansas City.

Running back Le’Veon Bell rushed for 121 yards for the Steelers (4-3) while wide receiver Antonio Brown had six catches for 124 yards. Brown recorded his 20th career 100-yard receiving game, joining Hines Ward (29) and Pro Football Hall of Famer John Stallworth (25) as the only players in franchise history to accomplish the feat.

Against the Bengals, the Steelers will hope to get Roethlisberger back, who has missed the past four games with an MCL injury.

The Steelers went 2-2 with Michael Vick and Landry Jones in quarterback relief but ranked 24th in passer rating during that stint, compared to a No. 6 ranking in the first three games with Roethlisberger.

The Bengals have lost five of their last six trips to Heinz Field, and 13 of their last 17 overall to the Steelers, yet they are the form horses. Still, the Steelers cannot afford to fall too far off the pace in the AFC North and they are a different team with their star passer at the helm.

We take the underdogs to come out on top in a game that could be settled by a field goal.

VERDICT: CINCINNATI 24 PITTSBURGH 27

BEST BET: PITTSBURGH +1.5 @ 1.91

GREEN BAY at DENVER

Monday, 01:30

(+3.5, Total Points 45.5)

For the fourth time in NFL history, two teams 6-0 or better will meet. Both teams are coming off a bye and aiming to get to 7-0.

In the Super Bowl era, 32 teams have started 7-0 and all 32 made the playoffs. Fifteen of those 32 advanced to the Super Bowl with nine of those clubs being crowned champions.

aaron rodgers
Pack unbeaten: Aaron Rodgers

“We’re 6-0 but there’s room for improvement,” says Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who leads the NFC with a 115.9 passer rating. “At this point, we don’t need to win pretty every week. We’d like to. But they all count the same. We’ll take them all.”

Both teams have had offensive success in the past but this year, the defenses have played a vital role in their team’s 6-0 start.

The Packers lead the NFL allowing 16.8 points per game while the Broncos are tied for second at 17.0 points per game.

The defenses have excelled in the red zone as Denver leads the league in opponent’s scoring percentage (66.7 percent) and Green Bay ranks second (71.4). And rushing the passer has been key for each team as the Broncos lead the NFL with 26 sacks while the Packers are tied for second in the league with 23.

“I’m a firm believer in the idea that defense wins championships,” says Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall.

The game also features the only two quarterbacks in NFL history to average at least two touchdown passes per game.

Rodgers (2.08; 241 touchdowns in 116 games) has the highest mark in league annals while Denver’s Peyton Manning (2.05; 537 touchdowns in 262 games) ranks second.

We do find it strange that an unbeaten home team is considered the underdog and while they have won the last three meetings, the Packers have lost five of their last six trips to the rarefied air of Denver. We reckon Peyton Manning can lead the Broncos to victory, so the points are a bonus.

VERDICT: GREEN BAY 17 DENVER 23

BEST BET: DENVER +3.5 @ 1.91

NEW YORK JETS at OAKLAND

Sunday, 21:05

(+1.5, Total Points 44)

The Jets have won three of their last 12 trips to Oakland and are coming off a 30-23 road loss in New England, which dropped them to 4-2 for the year.

Ryan Fitzpatrick
Whiskers: Fitzpatrick a cool cat

Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is 3-0 against Oakland and has passed for 723 yards and seven TDs. Running back Chris Ivory is in good mid-season form and he topped the 100-yard mark from just 10 attempts when these two teams last met. He seeks a third game in a row with a TD against Oakland and a fourth consecutive game with a TD.

The Raiders are coming off a 37-29 victory at San Diego, which left them at 3-3 for the year and firmly in the hunt for an AFC wild-card place.

Last season, the Jets held the Raiders to 25 net rushing yards and an average of 1.7 yards per run when they won 19-14 in New York.

Oakland quarterback Derek Carr has completed 120 of 181 passes (566.3 per cent) for 1,399 yards, with 11 TDs and 3 interceptions. He has tossed at least two touchdown passes in four of the last five games, including three last week against the Chargers.

Receiver Michael Crabtree is arguably one of the biggest beneficiaries of Carr’s improvement. The former 49er snagged a team-high six catches for 63 yards and a TD last week, and could be worth a wager to score a TD at any time.

This is a pivotal game for both teams. With unbeaten New England and Denver almost certain to win the respective divisions, the playoff route for both franchises will come via the wild-card route and a head-to-head tie-breaker may come into play.

The Jets’ defense is solid and veteran Fitzpatrick has added an extra dimension with his running ability. We take a chance on the Jets to control this game on the ground and grind out a rare win in California.

VERDICT: NEW YORK JETS 19 OAKLAND 16

BEST BET: NEW YORK JETS -1.5 @ 1.91

NEW YORK GIANTS at NEW ORLEANS

Sunday, 18:00

(-3, Total Points 49)

The New York Giants have not lost three consecutive trips to the Superdome since 1979 and they may well be value to upset the odds on Sunday.

Big Blue arrive on the back of a 27-20 victory over the banged-up Dallas Cowboys, while the Saints shocked the Indianapolis Colts with a 27-21 road win.

Eli Manning
Going home: Eli Manning

Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning, a New Orleans native, threw four touchdowns in their last meeting and has started 174 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL.

Receiver Odell Beckham is also from New Orleans and played for LSU. He has 16 TDs in 19 NFL games.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees has won four of his last five starts against the Giants and is 2-0 against them in the Superdome, averaging 366 yards per game, with eight TDs and no interceptions.

The Giants will have to be wary of Saints’ running back Mark Ingram, who rushed for 143 yards and a TD last week, Ingram’s father, Mark, played wide receiver for the Giants from 1987-92.

The Giants are the best of a bad bunch in the NFC East, yet they have been effective in taking the ball away, having a +10 turnover ratio.

The Giants are worth a small wager with a field-goal start and we reckon Beckham is a fair bet to continue his TD streak at around 1.91.

VERDICT: NEW YORK GIANTS 31 NEW ORLEANS 23

BEST BET: NEW YORK GIANTS +3 @ 1.91

OTHER HANDICAP PREDICTIONS

ARIZONA -4.5 at Cleveland: The Browns (2-5) had been steadily improving before their 24-6 defeat in St Louis last week, and while they hold a 33-13-3 series edge, the Cardinals (5-2) have not lost on three consecutive visits since 1962. Arizona 24 Cleveland 17

MINNESOTA -1.5 at Chicago: The Vikings (4-2) have lost their last seven trips to the Windy City – their worst run of form in Chicago (2-4) since they first met in 1961, but they are playing much the better ball at present and while we still consider them paper tigers and Chicago is coming off a bye, we take the visitors to record a rare road win. Minnesota 23 Chicago 20 OT

SAN DIEGO +2.5 at Baltimore: Philip Rivers is carrying the Chargers (2-5) on his back at the moment and aims for a fifth consecutive game with over 300 yards passing. The Ravens (1-6) have unravelled quickly, but showed plenty of heart in a 26-18 loss in Arizona to think that they have not yet quit on John Harbaugh. This handicap should be the other way round, however. Baltimore 17 San Diego 23

SAN FRANCISCO +8 at St Louis: The Rams will look to square the all-time series at 64-64-3 but the Niners have won three of the last four meetings. The Niners (2-5) are a shadow of the team they were last year but while the Rams (3-3) beat Cleveland 24-6 last week, they are still also-rans in the NFC West. The spread look a little lofty. San Francisco 23 St Louis 27

ATLANTA -7.5 over Tampa Bay: The Falcons (6-1) managed to beat the Tennessee Titans 10-7 in a dreadful game last week, while the Buccaneers (2-4) managed to lose 31-30 in Washington, having allowed a big lead to slip. Matt Ryan has won six of seven home starts against the Bucs, who will do well to contain running back Devonta Freeman, who leads the league with 825 yards (165 per game). Atlanta 41 Tampa 28

DALLAS +6.5 over Seattle:  Seattle (3-4) has never lost four consecutive meetings in Dallas and will probably take advantage of the injury-ravaged Cowboys (2-4). However, the NFC champions are not firing on all cylinders and the Cowboys may keep this closer than expected. Seattle 23 Dallas 17

HOUSTON -2.5 over Tennessee: A horrible game to have any definite opinions about. Houston (2-5) showed some spark after going 41-0 down at half-time in Miami, eventually going down 41-26. Tennessee gave Atlanta a heap of trouble, but still found a way to lose last week. The Titans are better but home advantage should see the Texans prevail. Houston 24 Tennessee 14

INDIANAPOLIS +7 at Carolina: The unbeaten Panthers (6-0) have only lost once to the Colts (3-4) in five all-time meetings, but despite the fact that Indianapolis are struggling – particularly against the run – they are still firmly in the hunt for the AFC South title. The Panthers can keep their noses in front of Atlanta in the NFC West with a win, but it is folly to give up points to a quarterback of Andrew Luck’s calibre. Indianapolis 24 Carolina 28

WEEKEND BETTING PREVIEW – MCB’s Premier League Guide

Your improved club betting service will be arriving very soon. In the meantime, we look to continue our good run and, complete with industry average odds, take a glance at the big matches at both ends of the Premier League…

CHELSEA v LIVERPOOL

These two sides have endured a tricky time of late, to say the least.

Jose Mourinho
Mourinho: Under real pressure

Jose Mourinho is really starting to feel the heat after his side lost their fifth game of the season away at Upton Park last weekend. Dumped out of the League Cup on Tuesday, a fair number of Chelsea (1.95) fans are now starting to call for Roman Abramovich to replace the controversial Portuguese boss with former manager Carlo Ancelotti, who is without a club since leaving Real Madrid in the summer.

Jürgen Klopp has drawn both league games since taking over at Liverpool (4.15) and seems to have made defence his number one priority. The Reds have conceded just once in the two games and appear to be far more stable at the back since the German took over from Brendan Rodgers.

That said, Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid shared 12 goals in the last four meetings between Klopp and Mourinho.

We fancy goals again in this one and wouldn’t be surprised to see a scoring draw being played out. [CC]

VERDICT: CHELSEA 1 LIVERPOOL 1 @ 7.50

BEST BET: BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE @ 1.75

CRYSTAL PALACE v MAN UNITED

Crystal Palace (3.75) can count themselves unlucky after last week’s loss at Leicester. The Eagles had a good share of possession and could have easily been awarded two penalties during the game.

David De Gea
De Gea: Keeping clean sheets

As with last season, Manchester United (2.05) are really struggling with consistency in the league. The Red Devils find themselves in third position, but will feel as though they should be a few places higher, especially after lacklustre away performances at Swansea and Arsenal resulted in defeats.

Brede Hangeland went into the Leicester game in great form. However, the big Norwegian really struggled at the King Power Stadium. Hangeland looked very uncomfortable when dealing with the pace of the Leicester attack and his error led to Jamie Vardy’s second-half winner.

David De Gea has seamlessly slotted back into the Manchester United side after his summer transfer fiasco. The Spanish international has kept three clean sheets in his last four Premier League appearances and made some vital stops against City last week.

Palace have performed well against the big boys this season and we fancy that continue on Saturday. We see Alan Pardew’s men getting at least a point here. [CC]

VERDICT: PALACE 1 MAN UNITED 1 @ 7.00

BEST BET: PALACE/DRAW (DC) @ 1.80

MAN CITY v NORWICH

Manchester City (1.25) returned to the top of the league on goal difference after their solid point away at local rivals Manchester United last weekend. That said, the creativity of David Silva and Sergio Aguero was really missed and Manuel Pellegrini will be concerned about the lack of chances his side fashioned at Old Trafford.

VINCENT KOMPANY
Kompany: Back in starting line-up

Alex Neil is enduring a tough time currently. Norwich (11.00) are without a win in their last six Premier League games and have conceded 12 goals during that period.

Vincent Kompany returned to the City line-up at Old Trafford and all seems to be well with the skipper again. Rumours suggested that Kompany and his manger weren’t seeing eye-to-eye after a recent situation with the Belgian national team, but the influential skipper was marvellous on his return to the side last Sunday after publically cooling the feud with Pellegrini earlier in the week.

The Canaries look a decent side when going forward, with the likes of Nathan Redmond, Robbie Brady and Matt Jarvis all causing problems to opposition defences. However, the problem lies with their back four, which appears to be in tatters. The whole defensive unit seems to be lacking in both organisation and pace, which was particularly evident when Norwich conceded six goals at St James Park a few weeks ago.

We fancy City to exploit the visiting defence and win convincingly at The Etihad. [CC]

VERDICT: MAN CITY 3 NORWICH 0 @ 9.00

BEST BET: MAN CITY -1 (HANDICAP) @ 1.75

NEWCASTLE v STOKE

Newcastle’s (2.50) sixth successive defeat to Sunderland in the Wear-Tyne derby has left them two points adrift of safety. There is no doubt that Steve McLaren’s side – who whipped Norwich 6-2 the previous weekend – are a Jekyll and Hyde outfit.

Giorginio Wijnaldum
Making an impact: Giorginio Wijnaldum

Yet their problems are clear. While they have found the net with regularity, thanks in part to the arrival of Giorginio Wijnaldum, they can’t defend with any consistency. They have leaked 11 goals in the last three Premier League games and along with Bournemouth, have shipped a league-high 22 goals in 10 games.

Stoke (2.80) have yet to hit the heights of last season and, after winning three on the trot, slipped to an ugly 2-0 home defeat by improving Watford on Saturday.

Goals have usually been the norm when these two meet. While the last three clashes have yielded less than 2.5 total goals, nine of the previous 10 clashes saw at least three goals scored.

Stoke have won one of their last nine at St James’ Park, but have managed to score at least once in seven of their last eight visits. They are 1.33 to do so again.

Newcastle are much better going forward than they are at the back and given their fair home form against Stoke, we see them scoring at least once. That may be enough to win either half, and they can be backed at 1.73 to do so. [SM]

VERDICT: NEWCASTLE 2 STOKE 2 @ 14.00

BEST BET: BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE @ 1.73

SWANSEA v ARSENAL

Swansea (5.00) have a happy knack of knocking off the Premier League’s giants as Manchester United found to their cost earlier this season.

Garry Monk
Safe hands: Garry Monk

Arsenal (1.67) were on the wrong end of a 2-1 scoreline at the Liberty Stadium last season and the Swans did the double, recording a single-goal victory at the Emirates Stadium in May.

The Gunners’ record in Swansea is not bad, however, having won three, drawn one and lost two of their last six visits.

Gary Monk’s side have not been easy to predict this term. They have yet to record back-to-back wins, but they are usually a solid team in the first half, having trailed at the break just twice in their last 10 Premier League games.

Arsenal have been far more consistent, having won six of the last seven league games, with their only defeats coming against high-flying West Ham and champions Chelsea.

Victory would set them up nicely for their crucial Champions League game at Bayern Munich, which comes four days before the North London derby against Tottenham on Sunday week.

It would not be the biggest shock in the world should Arsenal lose this, particularly as they may be caught looking ahead to those big games.

Still, Swansea have a couple of injuries and the Gunners are playing with confidence. We think the good run can continue. [SM]

VERDICT: SWANSEA 0 ARSENAL 2 @ 9.00

BEST BET: ARSENAL TO WIN THE SECOND HALF @ 1.91

WATFORD v WEST HAM

There is no doubt that both of these sides have performed above expectations so far this season.

Ighalo
Ighalo: Impressing many

Watford (2.55) got arguably their most impressive result of the season last weekend. Quique Sanchez Flores got his tactics spot-on during his side’s win away at Stoke, with skipper Troy Deeney netting his first ever Premier League goal.

Chelsea and Jose Mourinho may have made all the headlines after last week’s game at Upton Park, but nobody should forget how impressive West Ham (3.05) were during their victory.

Odion Ighalo may not have scored at the Britannia Stadium, but he did make all the headlines after his two wonderful assists. The Nigerian striker has arguably been Watford’s best player this season and his link-up play with captain and strike partner Deeney has impressed many so far.

Andy Carroll scored the winner against Chelsea last week after coming on as a second-half substitute. The big Geordie frontman made an instant impact, and will be hoping his impressive hold-up play can persuade boss Slaven Bilic to include him in the starting line-up for the first time this season.

Of the five Premier League games played at Vicarage Road so far this season, only one has ended with more than two goals being scored. We expect that to continue this week, and fancy a low scoring draw here. [CC]

VERDICT: WATFORD 1 WEST HAM 1 @ 7.00

BEST BET: UNDER 2.5 GOALS @ 1.80

WEST BROM v LEICESTER

Goals are usually guaranteed when these two Midlands rivals meet. No fewer than 12 of the last 15 meetings have yielded three goals or more and the last goalless draw came almost 48 years to the day.

Jamie Vardy
In the England frame: Jamie Vardy

Only Manchester City (24) and West Ham (22) have scored more Premier League goals than Leicester (20) this season and the exploits of Jamie Vardy have propelled him into the England squad ahead of next summer’s European Championships.

Under Tony Pulis, West Brom (2.75) are proving very hard to beat. They are in the top half of the table, just three points away from the top six and have won their last two – both single-goal victories over Sunderland and Norwich.

However, they have managed to score more than once in just two of their 10 league games – and they lost both times.

It seems clear that the onus will be on the Foxes (2.50) to break West Brom down. Not that they won’t be able to. City have won four of their last six trips to the Hawthorns. Indeed, eight of the last 12 clashes between the two has seen victory for the visiting team.

This is an awkward game for punting purposes. Leicester are playing with a freedom that is refreshing, yet Pulis has instilled a discipline that, while not pretty to watch, is hugely effective.

We think going against the trends might be the best bet and a goalless draw will ensure this is the last game on Match Of The Day.

VERDICT: WEST BROM 0 LEICESTER 0 @ 9.50

BEST BET: UNDER 2.5 GOALS @ 1.80

EVERTON v SUNDERLAND

Everton (1.50) have been dealt a massive blow with the news that Phil Jagielka will miss up to nine weeks with medial knee ligament damage following their 2-1 defeat at Arsenal last weekend.

Phil Jagiekla
Big loss: Phil Jagielka

The Toffeemen have won just three of their 10 games in the league, but Sunderland only managed to get off the mark on Sunday with a 3-0 win over struggling Newcastle.

The Black Cats have won three of the last five meetings but have not won on three successive trips to Goodison Park since 1902-04.

Sunderland (7.00) may have moved off the bottom of the table but are still firmly in the mire and will be happy to get a point. Prior to losing their last two meetings at home, Everton had been unbeaten in the last 13 clashes with Sunderland at Goodison Park.

Sunderland are a best-priced 1.50 to be relegated and while there is a long way to go, we still think Sam Allardyce will have far too much to do to sort out the Black Cats. We take Everton for a comfortable home win.

VERDICT: EVERTON 3 SUNDERLAND 1 @ 12.00

BEST BET: EVERTON WIN AND OVER 2.5 GOALS @ 2.20

SOUTHAMPTON v BOURNEMOUTH

These two sides are separated by just 24 miles and with Portsmouth dropping into the fourth tier of English football, this has become a rather big game for those on the south coast.

Eddie HOWE
Howe: Cursing injuries

Bournemouth (6.75) have come down to earth with a bang after their impressive start to the season and were beaten convincingly at home to Tottenham last weekend.

Southampton (1.55) are in fine form, with Ronald Koeman’s men now unbeaten in their last four league games after drawing away at Liverpool last time.

Eddie Howe will be cursing his luck after three of his key players were ruled out for long periods with injuries. The loss of Max Gradel, Tommy Elphick and particularly Callum Wilson has seen a dip in both form and performance levels from the Cherries.

Sadio Mane continued his fine early season form against Liverpool, grabbing a late leveller in the process, however he will be suspended for this one after his late red card.

A convincing home win is the only outcome we can see here. [CC]

VERDICT: SOUTHAMPTON 3 BOURNEMOUTH 0 @ 12.50

BEST BET: SOUTHAMPTON -1 (HANDICAP) @ 2.55

TOTTENHAM v ASTON VILLA

The Tim Sherwood era was all too brief at Villa Park and while Aston Villa (7.00) dropped to the foot of the Premier League, it must be remembered that they sold two quality players in Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph, who were always going to be very difficult to replace.

KANE
Back in form: Harry Kane

Tottenham (1.44) thumped an injury-ravaged Bournemouth 5-1 last week, while Villa lost their sixth consecutive game, falling 2-1 at home to Swansea.

Villa are in a death spiral. They have been circling the relegation zone for the past three seasons and this could be their year that they fall.

They have not won any of their last nine league games and have Man City and Everton up next.

Spurs have lost one of the last 14 meetings with Villa and while they have lost just once – on opening day – they have drawn five of the last nine league games. With Harry Kane hitting his stride, this looks an obvious home win, but it may be wise to tread carefully.

VERDICT: TOTTENHAM 2 ASTON VILLA 0 @ 6.50

BEST BET: TOTTENHAM TO WIN @ 1.44

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NFL PICK SIX – Your betting guide to Week 7

Three teams – CincinnatiDenver and Green Bay – have reached the 6-0 mark so far in 2015. Carolina (5-0) and New England (5-0) aim to join that list in Week 7, as the Panthers travel to San Francisco and the Patriots host the New York Jets.

MyClubBetting handicapper and Lindy’s Sports UK Editor Simon Milham takes a look at the betting trends and some of the best bets ahead of Week 7 of the 2015/16 NFL season. The odds are correct at the time of writing and are industry average.

(Handicap is denoted by +/- for the home team)

SEATTLE at SAN FRANCISCO

Friday, 01:25

(+5.5, Total Points 41.5)

The NFC champion Seahawks are in a 2-4 hole after allowing yet another fourth-quarter lead to slip and are now two games behind the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West.

Jim Tomsula
Under fire: Jim Tomsula

The 49ers have a similar record, despite outlasting the disappointing Baltimore Ravens.

Yet these two teams are still miles apart, talent-wise. The Seahawks have won the last three meetings and five of the last six. However, they have lost five of the last six clashes in San Francisco.

The winner can still win the division but the loser can start thinking about next season’s draft order.
First season head coach Jim Tomsula has been under pressure from day one in San Francisco, and speculation is swirling that Seattle head coach Pete Carroll will return to the college ranks before too long.

That is a ready-made excuse for Seattle’s players to tank but, in reality, they will only beat themselves if they fail to deal with the Niners. With little wiggle room, taking San Francisco too lightly is an excuse not on the agenda.

VERDICT: SEATTLE 28 SAN FRANCISCO 13

BEST BET: SEATTLE -5.5 @ 1.80

BUFFALO at JACKSONVILLE

Sunday, 13:30

(+4.5, Total Points 41.5)

Buffalo did as we predicted they would last week – they lost 34-21 at home to Cincinnati. It leaves them at 3-3 for the season and chasing the unbeaten New England Patriots in the AFC East division.

Wembley NFL
It’s back: NFL returns to Wembley

The Jacksonville Jaguars fell to 1-5 for the year, following a 31-20 home defeat by the Houston Texans. Both are looking to bounce back at Wembley, as the Jaguars ‘host’ the second of three International Series games in London this autumn.

Jacksonville have lost on both previous trips to London, having failed to cover the handicap on each occasion, but this presents by far their easiest opportunity.

The Bills flew in on Monday and while the Jags left it until Friday to arrive, that may not necessarily be to Buffalo’s benefit.

Jaguars’ quarterback Blake Bortles is growing in confidence and while the ‘home’ team has won just three of the last 12 London games, we think this game has upset potential. Take the Jaguars at 1.90 in receipt of 4.5 points and if you can get on, have a speculative punt on this being the first game in London to enter overtime.

VERDICT: BUFFALO 23 JACKSONVILLE 26 OT

BEST BET: JACKSONVILLE +4.5 @ 1.91

ATLANTA at TENNESSEE

Sunday, 17:00

(+4.5, Total Points 42.5)

Atlanta dropped their first game of the season last week, as the trends suggested they would, at New Orleans.

Tennessee were woeful at home against the Miami Dolphins, losing 38-10. The trends suggest that the Falcons could be upset again, having lost six of their last eight against the Titans and five of the last six trips to Houston/Tennessee.

Devonta Freeman 2
Man crush: Devona Freeman is a beast

Costly turnovers (three fumbles, two in the red zone) a poor third-down conversion ratio (3-of-12) and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown were largely to blame for the Falcons’ 31-21 defeat to the Saints.

Yet Devonta Freeman, their second-season running back, is proving a force that can’t be stopped. He had 156 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns against the Saints.

And he could be key, given that the Titans are giving up 139 yards a game on the ground. They failed to stop Miami’s woeful ground game last week and there is no quick fix, since they are riddled with injuries.

What worries us about this game the handicap. The Falcons are asked to concede just four points to a vastly inferior team that is going nowhere.

It looks an obvious game to swerve for betting purposes, yet we would be all over Atlanta if they were giving up a touchdown. We think the Falcons will cover and Freeman will score again, but we take a chance on Marcus Mariota exposing an Atlanta secondary that has its problems.

VERDICT: ATLANTA 31 TENNESSEE 23

BEST BET: TENNESSEE OVER 20.5 POINTS @ 1.91

HOUSTON at MIAMI

Sunday, 17:00

(-4.5, Total Points 43.5)

Miami (2-3) looked like the team we thought they were going to be at the start of the season when dismantling Tennessee last Sunday, as the Dan Campbell era began with a bang.

Houston Cheerleaders
Things are looking up: Houston cheerleaders

Miami’s defense, which had slumbered through the first four games, sparked to life and limited the Titans to 10 points. Ryan Tannehill still threw two interceptions, however, and still does not appear to be able to carry the team on his shoulders.

The Texans (1-5) won their first game of the season, outlasting Jacksonville after a 21-point fourth-quarter blitz, led by dominate wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who ended the afternoon with 148 yards and two touchdowns.

Miami’s secondary has struggled all year and Brian Hoyer has thrown three touchdowns in each of the last three games, obviously helped by the confidence he has in Hopkins.

Houston has never lost to Miami in seven previous meetings (three in Florida), but this is a very different Dolphins team. J.J. Watt rushing Tannehill fills us with dread, and while we take the Fins to win, given their rivalry history, the points look tempting

VERDICT: HOUSTON 21 MIAMI 23

BEST BET: HOUSTON +4.5 @ 1.91

NEW ORLEANS at INDIANAPOLIS

Sunday, 17:00

(-4, Total Points 52.5)

Indianapolis (3-3) hung tough with New England last Sunday before eventually going down 34-27. The good news was that Andrew Luck appears to have recovered from a shoulder injury that kept him out of two games. Luck threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns, without being intercepted.

andrew luck 5
Back in business: Andrew Luck

New Orleans (2-4) salvaged some price – if not their season – with a stunning upset victory over division rivals Atlanta – and now hope to win their eighth game in 10 meetings with the Colts, whom they upset (31-17) in in the 2010 Super Bowl.

There is still some uncertainty swirling over the respective head coaches, in particular Sean Payton, who could be in line for a switch to the Miami Dolphins or San Francisco 49ers at the end of the season, despite having two years of his contract still to run.

Coaching issues aside, the Saints managed to move the ball at will in the first half against Atlanta and Drew Brees was precise in throwing for 312 yards. The defense forced three turnovers and the starting tight end dominated. This was a far cry from the abject performance they produced in Philadelphia two weeks ago.

The Colts have the benefit of playing in the AFC South division that will do well to boast two teams with a winning record this year. Still, they are a better team than their record implies. With Luck back on track we expect the Colts to win a shootout.

VERDICT: NEW ORLEANS 24 INDIANAPOLIS 34 

BEST BET: INDIANAPOLIS -4 @ 1.91

TAMPA BAY at WASHINGTON

Sunday, 17:00

(-3.5, Total Points 43.5)

Tampa Bay (2-3) go in search of a piece of history on Sunday, hoping to record their third successive win in the nation’s capital. The Redskins invariably have trouble with the Buccaneers and have come out on the wrong side of some close games, with five of the last six meetings settled by less than one score.

Kirk Cousins
Care needed: Kirk Cousins

Though they have lost four times, the Redskins (2-4) are only a game behind NFC East leaders Philadelphia, who boast a 3-3 record, so their season is far from over.

The Buccaneers are coming off a bye week following their 38-31 win over Jacksonville. They were somewhat fortunate, having had to recover an on-side kick in the final minute to secure victory.

Tampa Bay move the chains well. They racked up 411 yards on offense against a solid (and unbeaten) Carolina team and will get a few players healthy off the bye – including tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

Washington trotted out an inexperienced offensive line – with just 14 starts combined – against the New York Jets, who boast one of the most talented defensive units in the game. They paid the penalty, managing just 34 yards on the ground without left tackle Trent Williams and centre Kory Lichtensteiger. While the line fared well in pass protection, Kirk Cousins still has accuracy issues and he has had too many games with multiple interceptions.

This promises to be one of the more intriguing match-ups of the weekend and we will take a chance on the Redskins to cover, given that Cousins has a full complement of targets for the first time in a while.

VERDICT: TAMPA BAY 14 WASHINGTON 23

BEST BET: WASHINGTON -3.5 @ 2.00 

OTHER HANDICAP PREDICTIONS

CLEVELAND +5.5 over St Louis: The Browns keep losing heartbreakers and will probably do so again. We like their moxie, though. Cleveland 21 St Louis 23

DETROIT +3.5 over Minnesota: Not sure how many time we have to say it, but Minnesota are an ordinary team dressed up in a scary costume. The Lions win two of every three games at home to the Vikings. The trend is scheduled to go against them this time, but trends are not always our friend. Minnesota 17 Detroit 23

NEW ENGLAND -8.5 over New York Jets: While the Patriots have issues in stopping the run, they rarely fail to cover lofty spreads back-to-back. They let us down in Indy, but the Jets are due a let-down. A statement game from Belichick and co.  New York Jets 16 New England 34

OAKLAND +3 at San Diego: The Chargers covered the handicap in defeat at Green Bay and are looking to win for the seventh time in eight meetings over their AFC West rivals. The handicap should be larger, so it is potentially a game to swerve and it would not surprise us in the least should the Raiders sneak it. Oakland 33 San Diego 28

DALLAS +4.5 at New York Giants: The Cowboys have not won six consecutive meetings or won three consecutive in New York since 1980.  Dez Bryant may be back for the Cowboys, yet it may not matter. Dallas 27 NY Giants 31

PHILADELPHIA +3.5 at Carolina: The Carolina Panthers looked bigger and faster on both lines against Seattle, and that is saying something. While everyone and his dog thinks that Chip Kelly’s offense will unravel, the Eagles continue to prove the critics wrong. We like the Panthers a lot, but the pressure to go 7-0 may be all too much. Philadelphia 24 Carolina 20

ARIZONA -7.5 over Baltimore: The Ravens lost to San Francisco last week. That is a death spiral if ever there was one. The Cardinals are out to show they are among the NFC elite on Monday Night Football. This could get very scary. Arizona 41 Baltimore 17

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK SIX – Your betting guide to Week 8

After five out of six winners last week, MyClubBetting handicapper and Lindy’s Sports UK Editor Simon Milham takes a look at the betting trends and some of the best bets ahead of Week 8 of the 2015/16 NCAAF season…

(Handicap is denoted by +/- for the home team)

FRESNO STATE at AIR FORCE

(-17.5, Total Points 57)

Saturday, 19:00

Fresno State Bulldogs halted a five-game slide when downing UNLV 31-28 last week, while Air Force let us down, going down to Colorado State as a four-point favourite.

Karson Roberts
Big day: Karson Roberts

Air Force were undone through the air, with the Rams passing for almost 300 yards in the way to 456 yards. Air Force quarterback Karson Roberts was more of a threat on the ground, leading the rushing attack with 79 yards on 24 carries and completing just nine of 15 passes.

Garrett Brown is always a problem for opposing cornerbacks and his ability opens up the ground game for the Falcons.

Air Force defeated the Bulldogs 37-34 in the Silicon Valley Bowl in 2000, but their last meeting ended in a 48-17 win for Fresno State. The series stands at 4-3 to the Falcons and they have won two of three meetings at home.

The Bulldogs have failed to cover the handicap in their last four games and they are also 0-4 in their last four road games. The Falcons are 5-0 against the handicap in their last five home games.

At some point those trends have to end, but it may not be this week. We take the Falcons to bounce back in style.

BEST BET: AIR FORCE -17.5 @ 2.00

DUKE at VIRGINIA TECH

(-2.5, Total Points 43)

Saturday, 20:30

Change is needed at Virginia Tech. After dropping to 3-4 overall and 1-2 in the ACC after losing 30-20 to Miami, change cannot come soon enough. This is Tech’s worst start to the season since 1992 and Frank Beamer, the winningest active coach in major college football, is starting to get concerned that the streak of 22 consecutive bowl appearances might be in jeopardy.

Michael Brewer
Happy return: Michael Brewer

Fortunately for Beamer, who turned 69 at the weekend, change is afoot. Senior quarterback Michael Brewer, who broke a collarbone five weeks ago, will return to start against Duke.

Four turnovers did not help the cause against the Hurricanes and Tech now has to go 3-2 over its final five games to become bowl eligible.

The Hokies are 4-6 in ACC home games since the start of the 2013 season, including a 17-13 loss to Pittsburgh this season.

Duke, who are coming off a bye, will be no pushovers, having won seven of its last eight ACC road games.

However, The Blue Devils have won just two of their last 15 meetings at Virginia Tech.

While they boast the top scoring defense in the ACC (9.3 points per game), are second in total defense (252.8ypg) and first in pass defense (131.2ypg), we feel the Hokies will come away with a narrow win and can cover the spread. This could well go over the points total line, too.

BEST BET: VIRGINIA TECH -2.5 @ 1.95

AUBURN at ARKANSAS

(-5.5, Total Points 47.5)

Saturday, 17:00

Auburn will come up against a power running game at Arkansas, who have piled up 177.3 yards per game on the ground on the SEC. Auburn are second last in the league at stopping the run, allowing an average of 197.6ypg.

The Razorbacks had three straight 200-plus-yard outings before struggling to just 44 yards on 25 carries against Alabama two weeks ago – but that happens quite a lot when coming up against one of the best run defences in college football.

Sean White 2
Cemented spot: Sean White

They have had a week off to recover from that Bama bruising and will look to win at home for the first time since defeating UTEP 48-13 on Sept 5 (they dropped three in a row at home thereafter, including a 16-12 howler to Toledo).

Auburn won 30-27 against Kentucky in its last outing and Sean White earned the quarterback jersey for the foreseeable future with a 17 of 27, 255-yard night, to take the Tigers to (4-2, 1-2 in the SEC).

The Tigers have not been the punters’ pals in recent weeks, however. Favoured in every game except against LSU, they have covered the handicap just once – against Kentucky.

The Razorbacks (2-4, 1-2 SEC) have lost the last two meetings with Auburn and are 10-13-1 in the all-time series. Yet their performance against Alabama, who pulled away late for a 27-14 win, offers plenty of hope.

In what we anticipate to be a close game, the x-factor could be Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson. He was 3-for-3 on field goals against Kentucky and has converted three field goals of 50-plus yards this season. He has never missed an extra point in 75 attempts and he is also an excellent place-kicker. In wat could develop into a game of field position, Carlson could prove invaluable. We take the Tigers to keep within the spread.

BEST BET: AUBURN +5.5 @ 2.00

PITTSBURGH at SYRACUSE

(+6.5, Total Points 51.5)

Saturday, 17:00

Pittsburgh have won nine of the last 10 meetings with Syracuse but both the last two games in the Carrier Dome have been close and low-scoring. If it stays low-scoring, it would benefit the hosts.

The worry for us is that this will be relatively high-scoring, going above the 46.5 line, and Syracuse has just come out of a bruising encounter with Virginia, who beat the Orangemen 44-38.

Eric Dungey
Impressive: Eric Dungey

Pittsburgh (5-1, 3-0 ACC) is ranked in the AP Top 25, their only loss coming on the road to Iowa (27-24), which came on a 57-yard field goal as time expired. The Hawkeyes are currently unbeaten and look a fair bet to land in the Big Ten title game.

Though Pitt lost ACC offensive player of the year James Connor to an injury in the first game of the season, the Panthers have compensated with a solid passing game and that may not be slowed by the Syracuse secondary who have been regularly torched this term.

Syracuse are decent along the defensive line but the offense lacks an identity and their offensive line play has been inconsistent.

Pitt have won five games by a combined 39 points and those wins were not against top-tier college teams. Still, while Syracuse have a very young and promising quarterback in 19-year-old Eric Dungey, they possess something of a Swiss cheese secondary and we look for the Panthers to cover the spread with a second-half surge.

Yet rather than playing the Panthers on the handicap, we look for a relatively high-scoring affair and take positive view on the total points.

BEST BET:  OVER 51.5 POINTS @ 1.91

TENNESSEE at ALABAMA

(-17.5, Total Points 56.5)

Saturday, 20:30

Alabama (6-1, 3-1 SEC) are rolling. Though only ranked at No8, courtesy of their loss to Ole Miss last month, they have won four straight, including two road wins against teams ranked in the top 10 (Georgia and Texas A&M).

Alabama stadium
Imposing: Bryant-Denny Stadium

Tennessee (3-3 SEC) have lost their last eight games against Alabama, whom they have not beaten since 2006. The Tide won 34-20 in Knoxville last October.

The Vols lost three of four games from Sept 12-Oct 3, blowing leads against Oklahoma, Florida and Arkansas. Before last week’s bye, they came for behind to beat Georgia, for the first time in six years, 28-31 on Oct 10.

Tennessee have been underdogs of between 15.5-29.5 points every game this decade against the Crimson Tide, who are giving up just 2.4 yards per carry, 5.3 yards per pass and 4.0 yards per play. Their defence is among the best in college football and the suffocated the life out of Texas A&M in a 41-23 win in College Station last weekend.

We are not convinced by Alabama quarterback Jake Coker, who can get rattled at times by pressure, but with Tennessee failing to get much pressure up front, he should be better than average this week.

The Vols have a chance of keeping this close if attacking the Bama secondary, which has been up and down in recent weeks. We think they can. Lose here and their slim hopes of making the college playoffs will have all but disappeared.

BEST BET: TENNESSEE +17.5 @ 1.67

HAWAII at NEVADA

(-8.5, Total Points 49.5)

Saturday, 21:00

Hawaii (2-5, 0-3 MWC) have a realistic shot at winning on the road for the first time this season when they travel to Nevada to take on the Wolfpack.

James Butler
Dangerman: James Butler

Nevada (3-4, 1-2) handed Wyoming their first victory in over 12 months when losing 28-21 last week, while Hawaii lost a 28-27 decision to New Mexico. A missed chip-shot field goal by Hawaii place-kicker Rigoberto Sanchez led to an 80-yard winning scoring drive that ended on a 28-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Austin Apodaca to Dameon Gamblin with 55 seconds left. Zach Rogers added the extra point to seal the win.

The Wolfpack have won the last four games against the Rainbow Warriors and are 6-1 at home against Hawaii.

The biggest problem facing Hawaii is the Wolfpack’s running game. They have the second-best tandem in the nation with James Butler and Don Jackson, who are each averaging over 87 yards per game. The threat of WR Jerico Richardson, who has 43 receptions this season, opens up the running lanes, but one of the strengths of this Hawaii team is their linebacking unit and while the threat may not be nullified, it may be stifled.

We are going against history and current form with this pick. We have faith in the Warriors to keep it close.

BEST BET: HAWAII +8.5 @ 1.91

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WEEKEND BETTING PREVIEW – MCB’s Premier League Guide

Your improved club betting service will be arriving very soon. In the meantime, we look to continue our good run and, complete with industry average odds, take a glance at the big matches at both ends of the Premier League…

ASTON VILLA v SWANSEA

GREALISH
Grealish: Talented

Many people suspect that Aston Villa (3.00) need to avoid defeat in order for Manager Tim Sherwood to keep his job. Villa lost 2-0 away at Chelsea last weekend, with both goals coming from basic defensive errors.

Swansea (2.05) have hit a bad patch after their good start. Gary Monk’s side lost at home to Stoke on Monday night and are now without a win in their last five league games.

Jack Grealish has been the stand-out for Villa so far this season. The Villa academy product seems to be one of the only players in the squad who looks comfortable in possession.

However, it does appear that he is missing playing alongside lynchpins Fabain Delph and Christian Benteke, who both left in the summer.

The goals have dried up for Swansea, who have scored just three in their last five games. That is partly due to the dip in form displayed by Bafetimbi Gomis, who is without a goal since August.

We see a tight encounter ensuing at Villa Park on Saturday, but we think the hosts will do enough to allow their manager to hold onto his job – for now! [CC]

VERDICT: VILLA 1 SWANSEA 1 @ 7.00

BEST BET: VILLA/DRAW (DOUBLE CHANCE) @ 1.55

LEICESTER v CRYSTAL PALACE

Maintaining progress: Claudio Ranieri

The words that springs to mind with this duo is ‘overachievers’. Leicester (2.30) are currently fifth in the table and only Manchester City and West Ham have scored more than their 19 league goals this term. Defensively, they are conceding too many – only struggling Sunderland, Newcastle and Norwich have allowed more than the 17 conceded by the Foxes, who have not kept a clean sheet all season.

Palace (3.00), who are sixth following their 3-1 home defeat by West Ham, have been much tighter at the back, allowing just 10 goals in nine games. However, Leicester have lost just once, while Palace are more boom or bust, having won five and lost four.

Claudio Ranieri has continued the good work undertaken by Nigel Pearson and has added a touch more flair, something that can also be said of his counterpart, Alan Pardew, who is one of the best tacticians in the game.

Leicester have not won any of the last four meetings, with Palace winning the last two at the King Power Stadium, but they have never won three consecutive meetings at Leicester.

While we would be happy to lay Palace, equally we would not put anyone off backing Leicester for a home win at around 2.30. However, this looks like it has ‘draw’ written all over it. Confused? Actually, so are we. [SM]

VERDICT: LEICESTER 0 CRYSTAL PALACE 0 @ 10.00

BEST BET:  LEICESTER WIN, DRAW NO BET @ 1.57

NORWICH v WEST BROM

On the move: Saido Berahino

West Brom (2.70) should be safe from a relegation battle, although the likely sale of Saido Berahino in the January transfer window will go a long way to determining their fate. The Baggies may need to win games such as this before he departs, as goals will be hard to come by if Ricky Lambert, Jose Salomon Rondon and Victor Anichebe are the best combination that manager Tony Pulis can come up with.

Albion have won three of their opening nine games and have drawn another two. All three of their victories have come by a single goal and they have kept clean sheets in their two draws.

If forced to come out of their shell, as they did when conceding against Crystal Palace, Everton, Chelsea and Manchester City, invariably they lose.

Norwich (2.00) looked defensively naïve in their 6-2 defeat by Newcastle, but they created several opportunities and they have a fair record against the Baggies, winning five of the last seven meetings.

Recent history has not favoured the bookies, with just two draws in the last 20 meetings, with just four wins recorded by the home team in the last 12 meetings.

West Brom are defensively sound, while Norwich are always likely to concede. The Baggies have won two of their four games on the road and draw another, so we feel the value may lie with the visitors. [SM]

VERDICT: NORWICH 0 WEST BROM 2 @ 21.00

BEST BET:  WEST BROM TO WIN EITHER HALF @ 2.40

STOKE v WATFORD

Deeney: Needs a goal

(2.15) are starting to settle down after their tough start to the season. The Potters are coming off an impressive away win at Swansea and have now won three straight league games.

Last week’s 3-0 defeat to Arsenal marked the first time Watford (3.85) had conceded more than two goals in a league game since Quique Sanchez Flores took over in the summer.

In our minds, it is no coincidence that Stoke’s upturn in form has gone hand-in-hand with Bojan’s return from injury. The former Barcelona man was outstanding in the narrow victory over Swansea on Monday evening, combining with wingers Marko Arnautovic and Xherdan Shaqiri on numerous occasions.

Watford had a terrific first-half against Arsenal, and were by far the better side before their second-half capitulation. Captain Troy Deeney will be alarmed by his lack of goals so far this season. The physical forward is yet to score a Premier League goal after switching to a role behind partner Odion Ighalo.

We fancy a comfortable home win here. [CC]

VERDICT: STOKE 2 WATFORD 0 @ 10.00

BEST BET: STOKE TO WIN @ 2.15

WEST HAM v CHELSEA

Carroll: Fit again

Chelsea (1.90) got back to winning ways last weekend, strolling to victory against a below-par Aston Villa side at Stamford Bridge, with Jose Mourinho surprising everyone with his team selection.

The Chelsea manager left out PFA Player of the Year Eden Hazard due to his lack of defensive effort and included teenager Ruben Loftus-Cheek, although the latter was eventually replaced at half time.

Slaven Bilic is continuing to prove doubters wrong at Upton Park. West Ham (4.15) got their fifth win of the season with an away victory at Crystal Palace last week, claiming fourth place in the process.

Diego Costa returned for the Champions against Villa. The fiery Spanish international was in dominant form and had a hand in both goals at Stamford Bridge last weekend.

Andy Carroll and Enner Valencia have both returned to the first team set-up of late, boosting the number of players available to Slaven Bilic.

The Hammers may have improved recently, but they have won just one of the last 19 meetings with Chelsea and we expect that trend to continue this weekend. We fancy an away win here. [CC]

VERDICT: WEST HAM 1 CHELSEA 2 @ 9.00

BEST BET: CHELSEA TO WIN @ 1.90

ARSENAL v EVERTON

Confidence restored: Olivier Giroud

Arsenal (1.44) are in the midst of attempting to salvage their Champions League campaign and had another tough outing against Bayern Munich in midweek. Some fans would argue that in order to win the Premier League, they could do without their European distractions due to the lack of squad depth. Everton (6.50) have no such European worries this term but they were made to look worse than they are against Manchester United last week in a 3-0 home defeat, and have won just three of their opening nine games.

Arsenal have not lost at home to Everton since 1996 and the Toffeemen have won just two of the last 20 meetings overall. Though they have drawn four of the last seven meetings, the Gunners look as though they are in title-winning form after winning five of their last six (four of them without conceding), their only defeat coming at the hands of Chelsea in controversial circumstances.

Last weekend’s win over Watford was a big fillip, particularly for French striker Olivier Giroud, who has had to wait his chance. His goal would have certainly helped his confidence and, if selected, he should cause the Everton defence plenty of problems. The odds say this should be easy for Arsenal. It might not be, but they should still prevail. [SM]

VERDICT: ARSENAL 2 EVERTON 1 @ 8.00

BEST BET: BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE @ 1.66

SUNDERLAND v NEWCASTLE

Instant hero: Sam Allardyce

Sunderland (2.50) recorded a piece of history with their 1-0 win the Wear-Tyne derby last season: It was the first time they have managed to win five successive meetings with Newcastle (2.80). My Club Betting Brand Ambassador Sam Allardyce, who played for the Black Cats in the Eighties, has taken over at The Stadium of Light and will become an instant hero should his side extend that streak over the Magpies. Newcastle, buoyed by their 6-2 over Norwich, have been victorious on just one of the last seven visits.

Newcastle’s defensive frailties are there for all to see. They battered Manchester City in the first half of their clash at the Etihad three weeks ago, but eventually lost 6-1. Their win over Norwich last Sunday was their first of the season, yet it could have gone either way, with the Canaries missing several chances. Sunderland are still searching for their first win, but have held West Ham and Swansea at home, and were unlucky to lose to Tottenham. Expect a tight game but take a chance on the visitors to sneak it. [SM]

VERDICT: SUNDERLAND 0 NEWCASTLE 2 @ 14.00

BEST BET: UNDER 2.5 GOALS @ 1.80

BOURNEMOUTH v TOTTENHAM

Off the mark: Harry Kane

Tottenham have made a sluggish start to the season by their own high standards, having drawn five of their nine games, but they have been beaten just once – on opening day at Old Trafford. On their day, they are among the best attacking sides around, as they showed when thumping Manchester City 4-1. And that is without talisman Harry Kane yet to find his true from this season.

On paper, with their odds at 2.30, they are a monster bet – one of the best bets of the weekend. They also have a propensity for scoring late goals, which may be worth noting if you like in-running betting.

Bournemouth (3.00) are well organised but have won just two of their nine games and are struggling without top scorer Callum Wilson, and two other influential players in Tony Elphick and Max Gradel, who are all injured.

The Cherries were thumped 5-1 at Manchester City last weekend and have conceded before the interval in their last three games.

Ordinarily, we would be all over Tottenham like a rash. They need to pick up the pace if they are to have designs of Champions League football next season and are facing an injury-ravaged side.

However, Tottenham are simply too big a price. They should be a shade of odds-on – the fact that they are odds against sets alarm bells ringing.

Still, we go against our better, cynical judgement, and say that Spurs will win. [SM]

VERDICT: BOURNEMOUTH 1 TOTTENHAM 3 @ 18.00

BEST BET: TOTTENHAM LEAD AT 60 MINUTES @ 2.50

MAN UTD v MAN CITY

Sterling: Hat-trick hero

The first Manchester derby of the season takes place on Sunday afternoon as Manchester City (2.75) make the short trip across town to Old Trafford. Both teams are coming into this one after convincing league victories.

Manchester United (2.60) impressively beat Everton 3-0 at Goodison Park, while a Raheem Sterling hat-trick inspired City to a dominant win at home against Bournemouth.

United were victorious in this fixture last season, winning 4-2 back in April.

David Silva and Sergio Aguero will both miss this one, which is undoubtedly a huge blow for City and reflects on their inflated price.

United’s Anthony Martial was named player of the month for September, but the young Frenchman is without a goal since his brace at Southampton. That said, his arrival has allowed Wayne Rooney to flourish after returning to the ‘number 10’ role.

Both sides have scored in four of the last six meetings and we expect that to continue here. [CC]

VERDICT: MAN UTD 2 MAN CITY 2 @ 14.00

BEST BET: BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE @ 1.65

LIVERPOOL v SOUTHAMPTON

Klopp: Home debut

Jürgen Klopp will take charge of his first home game as Liverpool (1.90) manager on Sunday evening. The eccentric German made his Premier League debut last weekend, overseeing the Reds’ goalless draw against Tottenham at White Hart Lane.

Everybody at Southampton (4.30) will still be reeling after last week’s 2-2 draw with Leicester, which saw the Saints surrender a two-goal lead. Ronald Koeman’s side had to settle for a point after conceding a brace from Jamie Vardy, the second of which came in stoppage time.

Liverpool are suffering an injury crisis at the moment, with Joe Gomez and Danny Ings both being ruled out long term with cruciate knee ligament injuries. Belgian youngster Divock Origi is currently the only fit striker at the club after recent injuries to Christian Benteke and Daniel Sturridge.

In truth, neither of these sides look particularly assured at the back at this moment, so we can see goals being on the agenda at Anfield. [CC]

VERDICT: LIVERPOOL 2 SOTON 2 @ 17.00

BEST BET: OVER 2.5 GOALS @ 1.95

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2015/16 NBA SEASON: THE MCB BETTING GUIDE

The NBA returns to our screens in the early hours of October 28th and myclubbetting.com basketball enthusiast Calum Chinchen has prepared this complete season preview containing everything you need to know about the upcoming campaign.

All the quoted prices are an average from across the industry and were correct at the time of publish.

Don’t forget to keep your eyes on myclubbetting.wordpress.com for regular betting guides and previews!

Defending Champions: Golden State

EASTERN CONFERENCE

The Cleveland Cavaliers have arguably the strongest starting five in the NBA when everybody is fully fit, with the presence of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love causing defences from all across the country to shake in their boots. LeBron James returned to his hometown club last season, signing for Cleveland after an incredibly successful spell in Miami which saw him win two NBA Championships. There is no doubting that LeBron is among the greatest players of his generation, and many see him as the heir to Michael Jordan’s throne as the greatest player in history. The incredibly talented Small Forward excels in all areas of the game and is equally comfortable when crashing boards defensively as he is when converting routine lay-ups at the other end of the court.

LeBron: Dominant

Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving are also massive players for Cleveland. Irving is one of the best point guards in the league, and loves to dominate the basketball, while the giant Love is a man who was born to convert three pointers when under pressure. The three mentioned players will need to combine as they did during the regular season last year, rather than their sub-standard showing in the playoff final series, where the Cavaliers were comfortably beaten by Golden State. We see Cleveland making a real charge for the NBA Championship this year, comfortably taking the Central Division and Eastern Conference titles in the process.

The injury suffered by key man Derrick Rose has affected everybody associated with the Chicago Bulls. The popular point guard suffered a leg fracture in pre-season practice and now looks likely to miss a large chunk of the season. Rose showed his typically dominant style of play throughout last season, and was absolutely superb during their Eastern Conference play-off campaign. Rose will need to return sooner, rather than later if The Bulls are going to mount a realistic charge for the lucrative NBA Championship. That being said, we see the presence of powerful center Joakim Noah and talented power forward Pau Gasol being enough for Chicago to finish behind Cleveland in the Central Division, thus making it to the playoffs.

Wade & Bosh: Vital for Miami

The Miami Heat really struggled to come to terms with the loss of LeBron James last season, and that had a huge influence on many of their performances, especially in big games. Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh made up the other two thirds of ‘The Big Three’ when LeBron was with the Heat, and the fact that both men have stayed with the club is a huge boost for everyone associated. The pair are among the best players in the league and will be looking to show that they don’t need to rely on a certain Mr James in order to be successful. Bosh is a converted center who is at his best when dominating opponents with his typically aggressive style, while Wade is arguably the best shooter in the NBA when operating at top-form. The Heat seem to have finally moved on from LeBron and have looked a revolutionised team during preseason. We see them as a surprise package this year and really fancy them to beat Atlanta to the Southeast Division title and cause problems in the resulting playoff campaign.

We fully expect the Toronto Raptors to dominate the Atlantic Division. The Canadian outfit play arguably the best team basketball in the entire NBA, and use their salary budget across the entire roster, rather than focussing on expensive stars. The Raptors are at their strongest when DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are combining on the court, with the two men contributing to a large majority of the teams total points during games. There is no doubt in our minds that Toronto will win The Atlantic Division, however as with last year’s campaign, we see them falling short in the playoffs.

BEST BET: MIAMI TO WIN SOUTHEAST DIVISION @ 3.00

WESTERN CONFERENCE

The Golden State Warriors deservedly won last year’s NBA Championship, claiming the Pacific Division and Western Conference titles on route. Golden State key man, Stephen Curry was named MVP last season, after he led his side to an impressive 67 wins during the season and individually breaking the regular season three point record. The prolific point guard threw an unbelievable 286 three pointers during the regular season, and averaged a more than impressive 23.8 point average. The most impressive thing was that Curry didn’t let his form drop during the playoffs, recording a 26.0 points average during the finals, thus leading his side to victory against Cleveland. As impressive as the Warriors were last year, we just feel a lot of their success was down to one man, and any injury to Stephen Curry may prevent them from reaching their potential during this campaign. Sadly, we cant see a repeat of last seasons glory for Golden State.

Durant: Needs to stay fit

Kevin Durant had an injury hit campaign for the Oklahoma City Thunder last year. The 2013/14 MVP was hardly on the court last season, and that massively contributed to the Thunder’s disappointing campaign. That being said, when Durant is fit and well, Oklahoma look like one of the most dangerous sides in the entire NBA, especially when the towering small forward finds himself on court at the same time as Serge Ibaka and Russell Westbrook. Spaniard Ibaka is one of the most defensively dominant players around, using his 6 foot 10 inch frame to his advantage when crashing boards at both ends of the court. On the other hand, Russell Westbrook resembles an artist on the court, with the talented point guard often plotting attacks in a patient and precise manner before releasing the ball to the always prolific Durant, who usually converts. If the three mentioned men stay fit and together for the entire campaign, then we see no reason why the Thunder can’t conquer the Northwest Division and the resulting Western Conference title on route to the finals.

The San Antonio Spurs had a below par season last year, exiting the playoffs in the first round after defeat to the LA Clippers. Tim Duncan is a man who everyone associates with the Spurs, and the veteran center is going into his nineteenth season with the club after signing an extension in the summer. Frenchman Tony Parker has become one of the most prolific Point Guards on the planet over the years and his scoring ability has become crucial to the Spurs. We fully expect San Antonio to make an improvement on last year’s disappointing showing, and fancy them to pip James Harden’s Houston Rockets to the Southwest Division crown, but we don’t see them challenging for the NBA Championship if we are honest.

Griffin: Prolific

The LA Clippers are now without a doubt, the dominant force in Los Angeles, with the Lakers no longer being a match for Doc River’s exciting young team. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul are the key men for the Clippers, and when both men bring their best to the court, it often means their team comes away with a victory. Eight time NBA all-star, Chris Paul is a point guard who is relatively short in stature, measuring in at a mere 6 foot. That being said, the man commonly known as CP3 has the ability to single-handedly control games from start to finish, and often finds himself at the top of the NBA assists and steals standings at the end of the regular season. Blake Griffin is a man who benefits from the generosity and unselfish style of CP3, and the prolific power forward is himself a five time NBA all-star. Griffin is commonly known for his crowd pleasing dunks, but the more educated basketball enthusiast will know that he is far from a one trick pony. The Oklahoma City native is a wonderful athlete who has a rounded game, and is equally comfortable when rebounding or scoring, however Clippers fans will be hoping to see Griffin add more assists to his game during this campaign. We can see the Clippers building on a successful 2014-15 season with another solid campaign this year, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see them reach the Western Conference finals.

BEST BET: OKLAHOMA TO WIN WESTERN CONFERENCE @ 6.00

VERDICT

There is no doubt that the Western Conference is going to be the more exciting watch for neutral fan this season. We fully expect Golden State, San Antonio, Oklahoma and the LA Clippers to reach the Western Conference playoffs, and feel that the competitive nature of the games will take enough out of them to hinder them come the NBA Finals.

We can see the now settled LeBron James dominating opponents in The Eastern Conference and leading his Cleveland side all the way to the NBA finals, and in our minds picking up the regular season WVP title on route.

The fact that Cleveland are in a far easier division and conference to their nearest rivals may allow them to rest key men during the regular season, allowing them to freshen up for the inevitable playoff campaign.

In our minds, that will be enough to see the Cleveland Cavaliers lifting the 2015/16 NBA Championship.

CHAMPIONSHIP WINNERS: CLEVELAND @ 3.80

REGULAR SEASON MVP: LEBRON JAMES @ 4.00

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK SIX – Your betting guide to Week 7

MyClubBetting handicapper and Lindy’s Sports UK Editor Simon Milham takes a look at the betting trends and some of the best bets ahead of Week 7 of the 2015/16 NCAAF season…

(Handicap is denoted by +/- for the home team)

WEST VIRGINIA at BAYLOR

(-21.5, Total Points 75.5)

Saturday, 17:00

Bookmakers are expecting a glut of points when the No.2-ranked Baylor Bears entertain the West Virginia Mountaineers. It is easy to see why. Both boast high-powered attacks and the visitors are staring down the barrel of a 0-4 start in the Big 12 conference, with TCU to follow on one of the most difficult schedules in college football. All credit to Oliver Luck, but that is one mean, nasty slate.

Skyler Howard, West Virginia 2
Keeping it close: Skyler Howard

West Virginia upset the Bears in Morgantown last season and effectively kept the out of the playoffs. Having lost to both Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, The Mountaineers may be vulnerable, although they do have one of the few Big 12 defenses that can actually challenge Baylor.

We worry about the amount of turnovers that WVU are conceding – nine in the last two games – and that could be a factor. Shelton Gibson and Jovon Durante may be young, but they are ball hawks quarterback Skyler Howard could find himself having a frustrating afternoon.

Still, we reckon a three-score handicap could be too big. So we’ll take West Virginia to cover, but an eclipse of the points total might be the way forward.

BEST BET: OVER 75.5 POINTS @ 1.91

AIR FORCE at COLORADO STATE

(+4, Total Points 54)

Saturday, 20:30

Air Force (3-2, 2-0 Mountain West) have won eight of the last nine meetings with Colorado State (2-4, 0-2) – they seem to like the Ram-Falcon trophy. There is no accounting for taste.

Garrett Griffin
Comeback: Garrett Griffin

The Falcons are entering the heart of the Mountain west schedule and tight end Garrett Griffin is expected to return for the clash with Colorado State. That is a massive boost, as he has faced six weeks on the sidelines and is a major part of their offense. The 6ft 4” senior caught 16 passes for 307 yards last season, with four touchdowns. While those numbers do not sound fantastic, his blocking is a vital part in the Falcons’ game.

While Nick Stevens is still the starting quarterback for CSU, backup Coleman Key will continue to see playing time for the Rams. Neither were particularly effective in their 41-10 loss to Boise State last week, when they finished with a combined 151 yards passing and a season-low 256 yards of offense.

Their turnover ratio, at minus-nine, is one of the worst in the nation and they are one of the most penalised teams in the nation. For that reason, we are going with Air Force to cover the handicap.

BEST BET: AIR FORCE -4 @ 2.00

VIRGINIA TECH at MIAMI

(-3.5, Total Points 51.5)

Saturday, 20:30

It was no surprise to our readers that the Hokies snapped a two-game losing streak when picking up their first ACC win of the season with last week’s 28-13 victory over N.C. State.

The Hurricanes have lost two in a row – to Cincinnati and Florida State – after beginning the season 3-0 and the Hokies have won eight of the past 12 meetings.

Miami has to find a way to stop the run. They give up an average of 169 yards per game and five yards per rush, which is good news for Tech, who ran for 200 yards in their win over N.C. State.

Brad Kaaya
Real Deal: Brad Kaaya

The Hokies’ run defence has not been particularly stout either, but it is unlikely that the Hurricanes will manage to rack up over 300 yards as they did against them last season.

Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya is learning all the time and has tossed eight touchdowns to just one interception. We’d like to see more from him, but the gameplans have not been allowing a speedier progression.

Virginia have some notable defensive injuries and are without All-American cornerback Kendall Fuller, so expect Miami receiver Stacy Coley to get more looks from Kaaya this week.

Miami is better against the pass, although Tech receiver Isaiah Ford will cause Miami plenty of problems and tight end Bucky Hodges is a massive target, who will receive plenty of double-team coverage. He has yet to have a breakout game and this is probably not the place he is going to do that.

If Miami can stop those two, they have a legitimate shot at getting off their losing streak. We take them to cover the field goal handicap, but it may go down to the wire.

BEST BET: MIAMI -3.5 @ 2.00

SOUTH FLORIDA at CONNECTICUT

(-3, Total Points 45)

Saturday, 17:00

Marlon Mack
Tough yards: Marlon Mack

Connecticut and South Florida both gained resounding wins last week and both the Cornhuskers and Bulls are at a crossroads in their respective seasons.

UConn hammered UCF 40-13, while USF manhandled Syracuse in an arguably more impressive win, slapping 45 points upon the Orangemen.

UConn’s offensive line is not the best and we feel that with running back Marlon Mack and quarterback Quinton Flowers playing well (combining to spearhead a 540-yard outburst last week), the Cornhuskers will be under pressure on the back end.

UCF has only managed one complete game this season and UConn is only allowing 19 points per game, but while we would ordinarily lay points to a team from the south travelling to a cold climate, we feel the key will be the Bulls’ defense, whose front seven will cause all sorts of chaos.

Flowers may not enjoy a stellar afternoon himself, but we look for Mack to grind it out on the ground and seal the deal for the visitors.

BEST BET: SOUTH FLORIDA +3 @ 2.00

HAWAII at NEW MEXICO STATE

(-6.5, Total Points 49.5)

Sunday, 00:00

Hawaii have not exactly been punter friendly in recent weeks, having fallen to 0-2 on the Mountain West and 2-4 overall. Their 28-14 loss at home to San Diego State last week saw them start slowly and they allowed 218 yards and three scores on the ground.

Max Wittek2
Point to prove: Max Wittek

That inability to stop the run could spell trouble against the lobos, whose triple option attack has helped the ground game to rank 11th-best in the nation.

Throw in the fact that Hawaii have not managed to score single point in their three road games on the mainland – being outscored by Ohio State, Wisconsin and Boise State by a  combined 121-0 – and you can see why many will be picking the hosts to cover the handicap.

Slowing Lobos’ running back Donnel Pumphrey will be key for the Warriors, who rank last in the nation in time of possession.

With QB Max Wittek nursing a knee injury, Hawaii ranking last in the Mountain West in rushing offense (at 87.2 yards per game), NMSU should be more heavily favoured than they are.

We have no idea why this should be the case. Every fibre of our betting boots says a home win and a cover. But for some nagging reason, we are going to follow the money and pick the road team on the spread. This isn’t an exact science, you know.

BEST BET: HAWAII +6.5 @ 1.80

ALABAMA at TEXAS A&M

(+4, Total Points 53.5)

Saturday, 20:30

Nick Saban’s Alabama, ranked No.10, have faced more teams coming off a rest advantage than any team in the nation. It is a scheduling quirk that does not seem to have hindered the Crimson Tide, who are 5-1 for the season.

Derrick Henry
Ground and pound: Derrick Henry is key

The unbeaten Texas A&M (5-0), ranked No.9, have had an extra week to prepare for one of the most powerful teams in College Football – and there could be over 110,500 at Kyle Field, the SEC’s largest stadium. It will also be one of the loudest that a Saban team has encountered, so it will be interesting to see how freshman pair, quarterback Jake Coker and receiver Calvin Riddle, fare.

The key for Bama is getting the ground game moving – and Kenyan Drake and Derrick Henry should get plenty of room between the tackles, as the Aggies rank 12th in the SEC against the run.

A loss will see Alabama fall two games behind the Aggies in the race for the SEC West title and the up-tempo attack employed by the hosts is well suited to giving Bama fits.

If the Tide are forced to play catch-up and get away from their natural field-position battle game, forcing them to abandon the run, this could get interesting.

We feel they will be able to make a few early stops and control the tempo, however.

BEST BET: ALABAMA -4 @ 1.91

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NFL PICK SIX – Your betting guide to Week 6

Four teams – AtlantaCincinnatiDenver and Green Bay – have reached the 5-0 mark so far in 2015. Carolina (4-0) and New England (4-0) aim to join that list in Week 6, as the Panthers travel to Seattle and the Patriots visit Indianapolis.

MyClubBetting handicapper and Lindy’s Sports UK Editor Simon Milham takes a look at the betting trends and some of the best bets ahead of Week 6 of the 2015/16 NFL season. The odds are correct at the time of writing and are industry average.

(Handicap is denoted by +/- for the home team)

ATLANTA at NEW ORLEANS

Friday, 01:25

(+3.5, Total Points 51.5)

There are some notable firsts for the Falcons this season. Atlanta are the first team in NFL history to start the season 5-0 with four wins after trailing in the fourth quarter. Running back Devonta Freeman is the first player in the Super Bowl era with seven rushing touchdowns in his first three career starts and he leads the NFL with eight touchdowns.

Devonta Freeman
Rookie rumbles: Devonta Freeman

The question is: Will they win their first Vince Lombardi Trophy in head coach Dan Quinn’s first season? They are 5-0 for only the second time in their history and their next four opponents – the Saints, Titans, Buccaneers and 49ers – are a combined 5-16.

New Orleans already sit at 1-4 and have the league’s worst-ranked defensive unit. Worse still, they have not faced a top-10 rated quarterback yet. Another loss to a division rival and their playoff hopes will be hanging by a thread. Sean Payton already looks like he will end his tenue in New Orleans at the end of the season, with Miami a likely destination if Dolphins’ interim head coach Dan Campbell does not win fast.

Atlanta has won the last two meetings and you have to go back to 1999 to see three consecutive series defeats for the Saints. The Falcons won three of their last 12 trips to the Superdome and have not won on back-to-back visits since 2001/02. Saints’ passer Drew Brees has won seven of the last nine meetings at home against the Falcons.

Five of the last seven meetings in the Superdome saw over 50 points scored, although the last two clashes have gone Under.

The fact that the Falcons are favoured by a field goal, coupled with the fact that the home team is usually at an advantage on a short week, would indicate that these two teams may not be as far apart as the line would indicate. With Freeman a versatile threat out of the backfield and Jacob Tamme a safety blanket with good hands for QB Matt Ryan, we think receiver Julio Jones could be the difference.

The line looks bogus to us. Even with history on their side and the Saints at home in prime time, once you get on a losing roll, it is hard to get off. We take the Falcons to win comfortably.

VERDICT: ATLANTA 37 NEW ORLEANS 24

BEST BET: ATLANTA -3.5 @ 1.91

MIAMI at TENNESSEE

Sunday, 18:00

(-2.5, Total Points 43.5)

Dan Campbell
Bill Parcells disciple: Dan Campbell

Miami’s lack of desire and heart was shocking to witness as they lost to the New York Jets at Wembley two weeks ago. That abject performance cost head coach Joe Philbin his job.

Interim head coach Dan Campbell has talked a great game in his pressers since and he is a players’ coach who can motivate. Practices have been a lot crisper this week and there is simply too much talent on this roster to think that they won’t come out of their 1-3 funk to start the campaign.

Tennessee are also 1-3 after losing a 14-13 squeaker to the Buffalo Bills at home last week but rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota has been playing well, tossing two or more touchdowns in three of his first four starts.

Likewise, Dolphins’ QB Ryan Tannehill is aiming for a fourth consecutive game with two touchdown passes.

Both Tennessee and Miami cannot run the ball effectively, so there should be some aerial fireworks. Tannehill has the better set of receivers but holds onto the ball too long to be effective (partly down to an ineffective gameplan and slow starts), and while the better quarterback in our opinion, Mariota is still a rookie and he locks on to receiver Kendall Wright too much. If the Dolphins’ defensive front gets a fire lit under them – which we suspect it might – Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon could have a productive afternoon.

The Dolphins have never lost three consecutive meetings in Houston/Tennessee and we reckon Campbell can start turning around the culture quickly.

VERDICT: MIAMI 24 TENNESSEE 17

BEST BET: MIAMI +2.5 @ 1.91

HOUSTON at JACKSONVILLE

Sunday, 18:00

(-1.5, Total Points 42.5)

Both teams enter this game with just one win under their belts. Houston’s quarterback situation is a mess, but Brian Hoyer appears to have cemented the position for the time being after completing 24 of 31 passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns in a losing effort to Indianapolis.

Still, between them, Nate Washington, Cecil Shorts and DeAndre Hopkins have helped the Texans to 300 yards per game through the air,

JJ WATT
Jaguars killer: J.J. Watt

Jacksonville, who will head to London to take on the Bills next week, appear to be heading in the right direction, despite their 1-4 record. Second-year passer Blake Bortles had the best game of his career in a 38-31 defeat at Tampa last week, passing for 303 yards with four touchdowns and a passer rating of 125.4. Bortles is on pace to shatter the Jaguars’ single-season passing touchdown record of 23, set by David Garrard in 2010.

Houston’s J.J. Watt has feasted upon the Jaguars and Blake Bortles before. In fact, the linebacker has more sacks against the Jaguars in his career than all but one team he has faced, and has sacked Bortles six times in two meetings.

Watt has lined up on the left side of the line this season and he will go against rookie right guard A.J. Cann and right tackle Jeremy Parnell may be slowed by a sore knee. Watt has 11.5 sacks in eight games against the Jaguars, whose right guard Brandon Linder, who has had most success against Watt, is ruled out for the season.

Watt is the difference-maker and we see the Texans winning this with a bit to spare.

VERDICT: HOUSTON 27 JACKSONVILLE 13

BEST BET: HOUSTON +1.5 @ 1.91

CHICAGO at DETROIT

Sunday, 18:00

(-3, Total Points 43.5)

You have to go back to 1973 to find the last time that the Chicago Bears lost five consecutive meetings with the Detroit Lions. They have lost the last four to their NFC North rivals, but the Lions are favoured by a field goal, despite having lost their opening five games. The last time they started 0-5, they lost their next 11.

Matt Forte
Running hard: Matt Forte

While they may not be as bad as their 2008 vintage, the defence is poor and the offense is not much better. They even benched quarterback Matt Stafford last week.

Chicago came back to beat Kansas City 18-17 at Arrowhead last week, with Jay Cutler tossing two touchdowns in the last 3:05 to propel the Bears to 2-3 for the season.

Bears’ running back Matt Forte has 10 touchdowns against the Lions in 14 previous meetings and may be worth a punt at 1.90 to score a TD at any time. Likewise, receiver Alshon Jeffery could be a difference-maker – he has four TDs in five games against the Lions and is 2.10 to score on Sunday.

This looks a tough game to weigh up. We do not believe the Bears should be underdogs but instead of looking for a handicap winner, we reckon Detroit’s rookie running back Ameer Abdullah might have a nice afternoon. We take him to score a touchdown at any time.

VERDICT: CHICAGO 23 DETROIT 17 OT

BEST BET: AMEER ABDULLA ANYTIME TD SCORER @ 2.00

NEW ENGLAND at INDIANAPOLIS

Monday, 01:30

(+10.5, Total Points 54.5)

A rematch of last season’s AFC Championship game, which the Patriots won 45-7. And the Super Bowl champions enter this game with a perfect 4-0 record, boasting the No.1 offense in the NFL. They go up against the 31st-ranked defense. They also lead the league in yards per drive, yards per play, and first downs per drive.

Each of the last three games have seen the Patriots run all over the Colts, racking up 234, 246 and 177 yards respectively.

But with Nate Solder tearing triceps this week, the Patriots are thin at the tackle position and they may well have more success through the air.

The Patriots have won six in a row over the Colts and have managed no fewer than 31 points or more in each of those wins – and wile Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck may return from injury, if he doesn’t, we don’t hold out much hope that 40-year-old veteran Matt Hasselbeck will be able to keep this close. Luck has also thrown an interception in his last five games and the Patriots are ford=sing over two turnovers per game.

Tom Brady3
Court Case: Tom Brady

Of course, there is added spice to this one. From the AFC title game grew ‘Deflategate’, the controversy surrounding suspicions that the Patriots manipulated football air pressure in order to assist quarterback Tom Brady.
After a lengthy and costly investigation, the NFL punished the franchise and the quarterback. The Patriots accepted theirs; Brady did not, and he won in court (despite his phone being smashed, no doubt frustrating him no end, as he would have been able to… ahem… clear his name).

Anyway, it has kept hacks happy throughout the summer and given some other folk nightmares…

The Patriots say this is all behind them. The score will reflect otherwise. Their foot will be kept firmly on the throat of the Colts for grassing them up.

This should be one-way traffic and we are happy to lay the double-digit spread.

VERDICT: NEW ENGLAND 51 INDIANAPOLIS 24

BEST BET: NEW ENGLAND -10.5 @ 2.10

DENVER at CLEVELAND

Sunday, 18:00

(+4.5, Total Points 42.5)

Denver holds a 21-2 record over the Browns in the last 23 meetings and has won the last 10 clashes.

Furthermore, the Broncos won 10 of the last 12 meetings at Cleveland, their last loss coming in 1989. In fact, those tow road defeats came by a combined five points.

While Browns tough QB Josh McCown is coming off a franchise-record 457 yards passing in an overtime victory in Baltimore, he is dealing with a left ankle injury. And this Broncos’ defense is nasty, gritty and fast.

We take Peyton Manning to lead the Broncos to a 6-0 start in a game that will be in the balance until the fourth quarter.

VERDICT: DENVER 28 CLEVELAND 17

BEST BET: DENVER -4.5 @ 1.91

Peyton
Perfect: Peyton Manning

Other Week 6 handicap predictions

PITTSBURGH +3.5 over Arizona: Sometimes you just have to murmur ‘Any Given Sunday’ and wonder if Cameron Diaz wold make a better NFL owner than Kevin Costner would make a GM. This is one of those games. The Cardinals should take advantage of Michael Vick’s mistakes, but somehow the Steelers will find a way to win. Pittsburgh 23 Arizona 17

CINCINNATI -3.5 over Buffalo: Buffalo QB Tyrod Taylor is not healthy, the Bills led a charmed life at Tennessee and their defense is keeping them in games. Cincy have momentum after a comeback win against Seattle and the chance to move to 6-0. You just know these Bengals are going to mess it up. But we’ll ride with them in hope. Buffalo 20 Cincinnati 24

KANSAS CITY +3.5 at Minnesota: Kansas City are not as bad as their record would indicate. Minnesota are an ordinary team riding their luck. That has to change soon but they should still win. Kansas City 20 Minnesota 21

WASHINGTON +6.5 at New York Jets: Who do they think they are, the New York Jets? Can they prove that their Wembley walloping of the Dolphins was no fluke? They appear to have found an identity. They know who they are. But so do we: they are the team that has never beaten Washington at home. Washington 27 NY Jets 23

SEATTLE -7 over Carolina: Carolina will fall to 4-1 as they get the backlash from Seattle’s defeat in Cincinnati. The Seahawks’ defense cranks it up a notch and we can get some sleep in before watching the points-fest in Indy. Carolina 13 Seattle 31

BALTIMORE -2.5 at San Francisco: San Francisco can stick a fork in the Ravens’ season but are so poor that they’d probably pick up a spoon instead. Baltimore 28 San Francisco 24

SAN DIEGO +10.5 over Green Bay: The Chargers have only beaten the Packers once in 10 attempts. Will Green Bay ever fail to cover a double-digit spread? Perhaps. San Diego 21 Green Bay 27

NEW YORK GIANTS +4 at Philadelphia: Giants suffered alternate wins and losses at Philly on the last five visits. They are due to win. Easy, really. NY Giants 28 Philadelphia 16

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MCB INSIGHT: FIVE REASONS WHY BIG SAM IS PERFECT FOR SUNDERLAND

By Calum Chinchen

 Shortly before the International break, Dick Advocaat chose to vacate his position as Sunderland Head Coach after picking up just three points this season and failing to win a single league game.

This prompted Sunderland Chairman Ellis Short to appoint Sam Allardyce, who was free to begin work immediately, after leaving West Ham in the summer.

The man affectionately known as ‘Big Sam’ played for The Black Cats during the early eighties and was the fans’ first choice to take the job – by a considerable distance.

Allardyce, who is also Brand Ambassador at myclubbetting.com, seems to be the perfect fit for the North East club and we tell you exactly why…

Allardyce: MCB Brand Ambassador

SET PIECES

Sunderland are a side who currently look hapless from set piece scenarios at both ends of the pitch.

Allardyce has always placed a huge emphasis on set pieces and often assembles a physically imposing starting 11 to aid this, something that is already in place for him at his new club. Towering Sunderland defenders John O’Shea, Younes Kaboul and Sebastian Coates are perfectly-suited for the physical style Allardyce is fond of. Once he has imposed his tactics on such players, it should be a different story for the Northeast club, particularly when defending set-piece situations.

O’Shea: Club captain

Big Sam will also need to address the issue of delivery at set-pieces in the final third, and will be highlighting the importance of Sebastian Larsson and Jordi Gomez. The two men have an abundance of talent between them when it comes to distribution and delivery. However, neither has shown much of that this season, partly due to the fact that neither have had a solid run in the team. Allardyce will be looking for a similar impact from the two men; Think Stewart Downing and Matt Taylor – both found themselves in the starting 11 on a consistent basis at West Ham due to their consistent quality of dead ball delivery.

The combination of a penalty area loaded with a Sunderland physical presence and quality dead ball service should lead to the Black Cats climbing the table.

MAN MANAGEMENT

Allardyce is an old-school disciplinarian and although he has worked with some of the most troublesome characters in the game during his career, he has always managed to maintain a stable dressing room.

One man that particularly comes to mind when speaking of discipline (or the lack of it) is El-Hadji Diouf. Diouf signed for Big Sam at Bolton with a terrible reputation from his time at the Merseyside giants Liverpool. Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher both recently revealed that Diouf was disliked by the entire playing staff at Liverpool, citing numerous inappropriate incidents that took place during the Senegalese forward’s time at the club, with both criticising his attitude.

Diouf & Gerrard: Cross words

Although Diouf inevitably continued to struggle with discipline throughout his career, he was rarely in such trouble under Big Sam. The temperamental forward was sensational at times during his three years at Bolton under Allardyce, even developing into a fans’ favourite at the Reebok Stadium.

Big Sam re-signed Diouf when managing at Blackburn a number of years later and even attempted to do the same when at West Ham, before being advised against doing so by the board.

In our minds, it no coincidence that Allardyce was the only manager Diouf failed to challenge or speak about negatively during has career.

Allardyce also has the ability to create a siege mentality within his playing staff, often creating a ‘them against us’ attitude when speaking at press conferences or post-match interviews to get the desired effect from his players. This was particularly evident during his first season at West Ham, when he eventually guided the side to Premier League promotion.

RELATIONSHIPS WITH SENIOR PLAYERS

Allardyce has always built relationships with senior players at the clubs he has been in charge of. Captain John O’Shea and vice-captain Lee Cattermole are the clear leaders within the Sunderland dressing room and we expect Allardyce to forge strong relationships with both men in order to turn the club’s fortunes around.

Kevin Nolan is the most notable example of such a bond. Nolan was a key figure under Allardyce at Bolton and West Ham, captaining both clubs. Allardyce and his skipper seemed inseparable, with Nolan generally the link between the stern manager and his playing staff. Nolan is currently a free agent after leaving the Hammers in the summer – so watch this space.

DEFENSIVE ORGANISATION

The Sunderland defence is currently in tatters, with the Black Cats yet to keep a clean sheet. Shoring up the Black Cats’ back four will be one of Big Sam’s highest priorities.

Allardyce has a reputation for building sides around a defence, which has been evident at every one of his previous roles.

Sunderland’s main problem so far this season has come in the full-back areas. Dick Advocaat employed a style which encourages full-backs to join attacks, which often left The Black Cats exposed on the counter attack.

Big Sam: Set to make changes

Modern day full-backs are often encouraged to get forward at every opportunity, with very little defensive responsibility being placed on their shoulders. Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs and Manchester United’s Matteo Darmian are among the many players who have been converted to the full-back position after spending the majority of their youth careers playing in attacking roles.

This is something Allardyce doesn’t condone, often employing converted central defenders in the full-back positions and limiting the attacking duties on such players.

This may have a negative effect on his side’s attacking play, but it certainly has a positive impact defensively and it is rare to see a Sam Allardyce managed side being caught on the break after committing too many men forward.

It would surprise nobody if current Sunderland full-backs Billy Jones and Patrick van Aanholt immediately find themselves out of the starting 11, being replaced by more solid options.

BOUNCEBACKABILITY

There is no doubt that Ellis Short has employed Sam Allardyce with Premier League survival on the forefront of his mind.

However, if the worst were to happen and Sunderland weren’t able to avoid relegation, they have the ideal man at the helm. Allardyce has twice led a side to promotion from the Championship, most recently with West Ham back in 2012.

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