The Chip Kelly experiment continues as new starting quarterback Sam Bradford takes over one of the NFL’s best offenses. Kelly, of course, is well known for his offensive innovations and has helped the Philadelphia Eagles to back-to-back 10-plus win seasons. The Eagles get a chance to continue and get back to the postseason when they open Monday Night Football with a trip to the Georgia Dome to face the Atlanta Falcons. Bradford, who has missed the better part of the past two seasons with knee injuries, is finally healthy enough and is in command of the up-tempo Eagles offense. He is surrounded by a wealth of talent including last year’s NFL rushing leader RB DeMarco Murray. Jordan Matthews and rookie Nelson Agholor give Bradford youth but ample talent at the wide receiver positions. Eagles vs Falcons odds favor Philadelphia on the road by a field goal (-3) while NFL picks for week 1 on the over/under total are set at 55½.
The former Rams QB, Bradford was the 2010 Offensive Rookie of the Year after starting all 16 games. He then played in roughly half of the team’s next 64 games suffering knee injuries in consecutive seasons. The Eagles opponent, Atlanta, welcomes new head coach Dan Quinn, former defensive coordinator in Seattle. Quinn’s first task will be improving a defense that finished dead last in the league in total yards allowed per game (398.3). Quinn and the Falcons selected undersized hybrid LB/DE Vic Beasley of Clemson in the first round and acquired Adrian Clayborn in the offseason to help. Along with LB Justin Durant, the defense should improve at least enough to take some of the pressure off of the offense. If Atlanta is going to have any chance of covering the spread as home underdogs in Eagles vs Falcons odds, the defense must be able to slow down the potent Philly offense.
Quarterback Matt Ryan enjoyed his fourth straight 4,000-yard season last year, but he and the rest of the Falcons offense must work under new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan this season. There have been some struggles with the new zone-running based offense and problems with the offensive line have not helped. Atlanta has actually beaten Philadelphia the past two times that the two teams have met. Ryan threw for seven touchdowns in those two meetings. It is doubtful he will have that kind of success Monday night. Look for Philadelphia to have a lot of offensive success against a struggling Atlanta defense. The week 1 season opener (Monday, September 14th) between the Eagles and Falcons can be seen live on ESPN at 6:55pm EST from the Georgia Dome.
Another new era begins in Buffalo as head coach Rex Ryan takes over and LeSean McCoy lines up as the feature back in an offense that needs a catalyst. The new-look Buffalo Bills welcome the AFC South Division champion Indianapolis Colts to Ralph Wilson Stadium in the season opener. Ryan announced that sixth-year pro Tyrod Taylor would start at quarterback for the Bills. Buffalo had picked up Matt Cassel in the offseason and former first-round draft choice E.J. Manuel was also expected to contend for the job. Taylor beat both of them out and begins the season as the Buffalo Bills starter. With Taylor behind center, Colts vs Bills odds in Vegas have Buffalo listed as three point home underdogs (+3) while NFL picks for week 1 have the over/under total listed at 46.
McCoy will take some of the pressure off of Taylor but he is going to have to make some throws. He will have two pretty good young receivers in Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins with which to do so. Beyond that, the weapons are slim. Percy Harvin is not what he used to be, but the Bills are playing a Colts defense that was somewhat mediocre for a playoff caliber team. The Colts did add Trent Cole to pair with OLB Robert Mathis to create a pretty good pass rush tandem. Still, the defense must improve for the Colts to shut down an elite back like McCoy. Indianapolis also drafted defense choosing four players on that side of the ball within the first five picks of the 2015 draft. For Rex Ryan's squad to pull of the week 1 upset in Indianapolis Colts vs Buffalo Bills odds, Taylor will need to utilize Woods and Watkins often while the defense must find a way to contain Indianapolis' potent air attack.
It is no secret though that the strength of the Colts is with their offense. Andrew Luck is one of the best young quarterbacks in the game. The former No. 1 pick threw for 4,761 yards and 40 touchdowns in his third season in the league. The Colts added RB Frank Gore and WR Andre Johnson to an already explosive offense. The Bills defense, which was fourth in the league in scoring and total defense, will have its hands full with Luck and the rest of the Indianapolis Colts offense. Early action has 68% of the gambling public taking the Colts in NFL picks for week 1 laying the points on the road while 62% are backing the under (46). The season opener (Sunday, September 13th) between the Indianapolis Colts and Buffalo Bills can be seen live on CBS at 1:00pm EST from Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The Independent BYU Cougars take on the first of three tough opponents to open the 2015 season when they travel to face the Nebraska Cornhuskers in week 1. It could be four if new Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh gets the Wolverines turned around early. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall’s Cougars will face #23 Boise State and #13 UCLA in Weeks 2 and 3. As for the opener, BYU vs Nebraska odds have the Cougars listed as 6-point betting underdogs on the road against the Cornhuskers. College football predictions for week 1 however are expecting plenty of points put on the board with an over/under total posted at 64½. The BYU offense will get two of its stars back for the opener – QB Taysom Hill and RB Jamal Williams – after both suffered major injuries during the season last year.
Hill suffered a broken leg in early October and was replaced by senior Christian Stewart. Williams rushed for 1,200 yards in 2013 and Mendenhall and his staff hope he can regain that form. Where the Cougars program has excelled recently is on defense, but after last year’s regression Mendenhall found himself concerned enough that he announced he would once again be calling the defense. BYU returns just three starters from a unit that gave up nearly 28 points a game and was 112th in the country against the pass. That will need to change if the Cougars are to cover the 6-point point spread in BYU vs Nebraska odds for week 1. The Cougars opponent, Nebraska, has a new head coach in Mike Riley, the former Oregon State mentor. Riley brings in a pro-style offense that returns QB Tommy Armstrong Jr., two starting receivers in Jordan Westerkamp and De’Mornay Pierson-El, and tight end Cethan Carter. Armstrong filled in admirably for Taylor Martinez in each of the last two seasons.
Last year, Armstrong passed for 2,695 yards and finished with a total of 3,400 yards passing and rushing. The strength of the Cornhuskers may be on defense where the philosophy may change slightly under new defensive coordinator Mark Banker. Nebraska returns a pair of 300-plus pound defensive tackles in Maliek Collins and Vincent Valentine. Junior safety Nate Gerry (6-2, 205) was All-Big Ten last year and led the team in interceptions. Back-to-back losses late in the season to Wisconsin and Minnesota prevented the Cornhuskers from winning the Big 10 West and earning a shot at the conference title. College football predictions for 2015 have Riley and Nebraska facing the same two teams back-to-back once again, this time in mid-October. First, they will have to navigate past a very good BYU team that they have the luxury of playing at home. The week 1 season opener (Saturday, September 5th) between the BYU Cougars and Nebraska Cornhuskers can be seen live on ABC at 3:30pm EST from Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska.
With only four races left until the Chase begins, Kevin Harvick, last year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, still has a firm grasp on the overall lead in the standings and looks to improve his lead at this weekend’s 2015 Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Harvick remains 42 points ahead of second-place Joey Logano, who won last week’s Cheez-It 355 after leading the race for a grand total of one lap. Harvick, who led the race for 29 laps, had fuel issues and wound up third. Another Harvick victory would almost guarantee the top seed in the Chase. NASCAR betting on 2015 Pure Michigan 400 odds favor Harvick to win on Sunday at +450 followed by Kyle Busch (+650), Jimmie Johnson (+800) and Joey Logano (+800).
Definitely the hottest racer on the circuit right now is Kyle Busch. In his last seven races, he has four wins and a second-place finish. He finished second to Logano last week. Another big win could secure his spot in the Chase and boost his overall Cup standing. Busch is currently 30th overall. Big brother Kurt Busch (+900) finished fifth last week to keep the eighth spot in the Cup standings. With two victories on the season, a third would help with seeding for the season-ending Chase. Busch won at Michigan International Speedway just two months ago in a race shortened by rain. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is listed as a +1000 favorite in 2015 Pure Michigan 400 odds and third in the Cup standings, has raced well at MIS over the years. In his last three races at the track, he has finished in the top 10 and was second to Busch in that race won by Kurt Busch in June.
Another NASCAR betting favorite this Sunday would be Brad Keselowski (+900), who hails from Rochester Hills, Michigan, less than two hours from MIS. He will be the hometown favorite and if he can avoid pit problems should keep a firm hold on the fifth spot in the Sprint Cup standings. Others who may figure into the top 10 include Carl Edwards (+1500) who ran well at MIS in June even though historically he has not done well at the track. 2015 Pure Michigan 400 odds have Kasey Kahne a +1400 favorite along with Denny Hamlin (+1800), Matt Kenseth (+900), and Martin Truex Jr. (+900) who could all sneak in and capture a victory this Sunday. Truex Jr. trails Keselowski by just five points. A victory at MIS would surely improve his Cup seeding.
In the past few years, when it comes down to teams that could win the NFC North division, it has been the Green Bay Packers and everyone else. In fact, Green Bay has won four consecutive division titles during the coaching and quarterback era of Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers. 2015 NFC North odds are expecting the Packers to win it again listing the "cheeseheads" at -300 followed by everyone else; the Detroit Lions (+600), the Minnesota Vikings (+600) and Chicago Bears (+1200). The Green Bay Packers will also enter the 2015 season as the clear favorites in Super Bowl predictions to win (+600) despite falling apart in the fourth quarter of last year's NFC Conference championship to the Seattle Seahawks (28-22). Green Bay allowed Seattle to score 15-points in the fourth quarter to force overtime where the Seahawks won and moved onto the Super Bowl.
That was last season however and the Packers are vowing this year will be different. Aaron Rodgers enters his 11th season at QB and will be looking to better throwing 4,381-yards for 38-touchdowns in 2014. Much of the offense remains intact with Eddie Lacy at running back, John Kuhn at fullback and WR's Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb filling the slots. On the defensive side of the ball, Green Bay's first round pick Damarious Randall (Arizona State) will see some snaps throughout the year but the starting tandem of Sam Shields and Casey Hayward will carry most of the load. The Packers could also have won of the best linbacking trio not only in the 2015 NFC North but in all of the league. Julius Peppers will contain the outside with Clay Matthews and Carl Bradford patrolling the inside.
Much ado was made about the Detroit Lions trading DT Ndamukong Suh to the Miami Dolphins during the off-season however head coach Jim Caldwell and his staff beefed up the defensive line by signing Haloti Ngata (Ravens), Tyrinn Walker (Saints) and drafting Gabe Wright (Auburn) to fill the void. QB Matthew Stafford (4,257-yards, 22-touchdowns) returns for his 11th year as the starter and will have the best wide receiver in the league, Calvin Johnson (1,077-yards, 8-TD's), terrorizing opposing defensive backs. Johnson will deservingly draw the attention of numerous double teams which will free up the versatile Golden Tate (1,331-yards, 4-touchdowns) in many situations. The Lions also drafted running back Ameer Abdullah (Nebraska) to balance the rushing attack with Joique Bell. If the Packers don't live up to expectations this season, the Lions could be a profitable option in 2015 NFC North odds to win at +600.
The Minnesota Vikings will be an interesting team to watch this year with RB Adrian Peterson once again behind QB Teddy Bridgewater. Peterson was forced to sit out most of last year due to legal issue stemming from child abuse allegations. With Peterson back in the starting lineup, Bridgewater should have enough time to better last season's mark of 2,919-yards for 14-TD's with WR's Cordarrelle Patterson and the newly acquired Mike Wallace (Dolphins) opening up the passing game. And then there are the Chicago Bears who finished last season going 5-11 SU and 7-9 ATS. Head coach John Fox (Broncos) was brought in to provide a leadership that was lacking with Marc Trestman. The Bears haven't seen the postseason since 2010 and much of the blame can be attributed to QB Jay Cutler. The 10-year pro threw 18-interceptions last season but is hoping the new additions of WR Kevin White (West Virginia) and Eddie Royal (Chargers) will be the missing ingredients to a successful year. When you consider that Cutler will also have the experience of WR Alshon Jefferies, TE Martellus Bennet and RB Matt Forte, there is no reason why Chicago can't defy NFL predictions and vie for the 2015 NFC North title.
The Lions finally got over the hump and qualified for the postseason putting up 11 wins in the regular season with one of the league’s best defenses. Detroit was No. 1 against the run, second in total defense, and third in scoring defense last year. The big question for second-year head coach Jim Caldwell is if the Lions can do it again. Historically, the Detroit Lions have had a difficult time repeating a playoff performance but in 2015, the pieces are in place which could be a profitable situation for Lions Nation. 2015 Super Bowl predictions have listed Detroit as +4000 longshots to win the championship, +2200 to win the NFC Conference and +600 in NFL odds to win the NFC North. Although the Lions lost all-everything defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh as well as running mate DT Nick Fairley, the Lions signed Pro Bowler Haloti Ngata from Baltimore and DT Tyrunn Walker from New Orleans. They also drafted 6-3, 300-pound Gabe Wright out of Auburn.
The rest of the Detroit Lions defense is solid with DE Ziggy Ansah (7.5 sacks) leading the pass rush and LBs DeAndre Levy and Stephen Tulloch plugging the middle. Quarterback Matthew Stafford returns for his seventh season as the Lions starter. Last year, Caldwell and OC Joe Lombardi dialed it back somewhat with Stafford and let the defense control the tempo of games. It was needed as the Lions lacked a proven running game in 2014, finishing a miserable 28th in the NFL. The team took the steps to fix that and make things a little easier on Stafford. Detroit drafted Duke guard Laken Tomlinson, a 6-3, 323-pound mass of an offensive lineman. Then, the Lions went out and got Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah in the second round. The 5-9, 215-pound Abdullah should pair well with fifth-year pro Joique Bell.
Of course, the offense also features the game’s best receiver in Calvin Johnson, who had 71 receptions for 1,077 yards and eight touchdowns, despite missing three games. There is also Golden Tate, who led the Lions in receiving last year with 99 catches for 1,331 yards. Detroit also has a very capable tight end in Brandon Pettigrew and second-year pro Eric Ebron (6-4, 265) is said to be improving. Because of their efforts last season, the Lions will play a much stronger schedule then just those in the 2015 NFC North division. They face both Denver and Seattle in NFL odds for the first four weeks of the season, travel to London to face Kansas City, and have back-to-back Thursday games with Philadelphia and Green Bay. Caldwell and Detroit will find out where they stand in terms of Super Bowl predictions very early in the 2015 season.
Lions Update (9/9/15): Detroit are now +3300 favorites in Super Bowl predictions, +1600 to win the NFC Conference and +450 to win the NFC North.
Current bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey will defend her title once again as she faces the No. 7-ranked Bethe Correia on Saturday night (August 1st) at UFC 190 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The big question that everyone is asking heading into the fight is; does Correia stand any chance against Rousey, who has been a dominating force in the division from day one. The simple answer is no, Correia does not really stand a solid chance against Rousey who has gone a perfect 11-0 and is the most dominant female fighter ever to grace the octagon. Looking at wagering predictions for the bantamweight bout, UFC 190 betting odds have listed Rousey as the overwhelming favorite at -1600 while Correia would pay out +800 on a $100 wager if she wins for what would be a stunning upset. Correia is also unbeaten at 9-0 coming off a TKO of Shayna Baszler in the second round of their fight back on April 26th of this year at UFC 172.
It was only Correia’s second win by TKO. Rousey, on the other hand, has simply destroyed her opponents including her last one, Cat Zingano. Rousey recorded win No. 11 on February 28th of this year at UFC 184 as a -900 favorite in UFC predictions when she forced Zingano into a hammerlock armbar. Zingano submitted just 14 seconds into the fight. The 5-7, 135-pound Rousey won her first eight fights all by submission before dispatching Sara McCann a little over a minute into UFC 170 in February of 2014. Rousey connected with a knee to the body and rendered McCann useless and ended the fight. For those concerned about laying the -1600 on Rousey as the favorite in UFC 190 betting odds, don't be. Consider that in her last two fights, Rousey has two victories, one by submission and the other by knockout. She claimed those two wins by fighting for a total of 30 seconds.
Truly amazing and definitely trouble for Bethe Correia, who nabbed the bout with Rousey with several rounds of trash talk. In comparing the two fighters (Rousey vs Correia), there is virtually no comparison. If Correia is going to have any chance of upsetting Rousey in UFC 190 betting odds, it will be by staying on her feet and attempting to outstrike the champ. The problem with that strategy is that Rousey is a better and more accurate striker than Correia. If Correia gets into a grappling match, it’s over. Rousey’s judo skills allow her to throw her opponents around like rag dolls. UFC 190 gets underway Saturday, August 1st, at 7:00 p.m. ET. The main card bout for the women’s bantamweight championship begins at approximately 11:55pm EST.
Jason Day played well at last week’s The Open Championship but not quite good enough to make the final playoff that was won by Zach Johnson. Day finished one shot behind the top three and wound up tied for fourth place. He looks to bounce back with a victory at the RBC Canadian Open 2015 this weekend at Glen Abbey Golf Course in Oakville, Ontario. Day is the most dangerous player in the field. He has top 10 finishes in his last two events, both majors. He should fare well on the 7,253-yard course. Day currently ranks third in driving distance (309.7 yards) on the tour.
PGA Tour odds for the RBC Canadian Open 2015 favor Jason Day to win the tournament at 8/1 followed by Bubba Watson (16/1), Jim Furyk (16/1) and Matt Kuchar (16/1). Day will face some serious competition from several golfers including a pair who have played well at the RBC Canadian Open in the past. Kuchar wound up tied for second place at the 2013 RBC, the last time that the event was on the PGA Tour. Kuchar has made over 94 percent of the cuts this season, but he has only had one top ten finish in the past five months. Hunter Mahan was winning the 2013 RBC but pulled out of the tournament to be with his wife while she was delivering their first child.
Furyk is another who has played well at the RBC in the past. He has been very inconsistent this season, but is 15th on the tour in greens in regulation. Luke Donald (25/1) has also had his share of unpredictable play this year but may have turned a corner with a T12 finish at The Open last week. Brooks Koepka (22/1) will play the RBC for the first time this year. The 25-year-old is playing well having four top 20 finishes in his last five events. That includes a T10 at The Open. J.B. Holmes (33/1) is another name that could surprise at the RBC. He has not played well lately. In fact, since winning the Houston Open and tying for ninth place at WGC Match Play in April, Holmes has not finished higher than 22nd place.
Be on the lookout for Bubba Watson however. He missed the cut at The Open last week, but finished T21 at the RBC in 2013. Ryan Palmer (30/1), Graham DeLaet (30/1), and Graeme McDowell (40/1) are all in the field and have the potential for top 10 finishes. DeLaet finished a disappointing T68 last week at The Open, while McDowell was T49 and Palmer wound up T30. Other players to take note of in PGA Tour odds for the RBC Canadian Open include Scott Piercy, Tony Finau and Will Wilcox at 40/1 while Steve Stricker would pay out as a 45/1 longshot.
A 19-7 loss to Kansas City in the final game of the season kept the San Diego Chargers at home during the playoffs despite a 9-7 regular season record. The Chargers have averaged eight wins per season over the past five years and made the playoffs just once. All the offseason talk about the franchise; however, was about if and when the club may move to Los Angeles. Regardless of where they play, NFL odds aren't giving the Chargers much of a chance in Super Bowl predictions to hoist the Lombardi trophy listing the squad as 40/1 underdogs, 22/1 longshots to win the AFC Conference and +500 to win the AFC West.
If the San Diego Chargers are to have any chance of winning games in the playoffs, they will have to improve their ground game. Part of that improvement will be just keeping the offensive line healthy. Five different players started at center last year due to injuries. Orlando Franklin was signed from Denver to start at left guard. San Diego moved up in the draft to select Wisconsin All-American Melvin Gordon with the 15th pick in the first round. Gordon’s impact should immediately help quarterback Philip Rivers.
Rivers was the subject of speculation during the NFL Draft when it appeared San Diego might be making a move for Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota. That did not happen and Rivers will be back for his 10th season after throwing for 4,286 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2014. The Chargers defense is solid after finishing ninth in the league in total defense last year. Defensive coordinator John Pagano is going to have to find a way to generate more of a pass rush. San Diego had just 26 sacks last season. Defensive end Cory Liuget, a former first round draft pick, must continue his improvement.
San Diego signed cornerback Patrick Robinson from New Orleans and safety Jimmy Wilson from Miami to bolster the secondary along with veteran strong safety Eric Weddle who led the team in tackles with 114. Much of San Diego’s success in the 2015 AFC West division will come down to staying healthy and improving their running game. The Chargers started 5-1 in NFL odds last season, but couldn’t finish due to a rash of injuries on the offensive line. Staying healthy at the end of the season may be enough to propel the Chargers and head coach Mike McCoy to another playoff berth but to defy Super Bowl predictions and become champions seems unrealistic.
Chargers Update (9/9/15): San Diego are now +4000 favorites in Super Bowl predictions, +1800 to win the AFC Conference and +375 to win the AFC West.
Jordan Spieth will do what only a handful of golfers have done in the past. He will play in this weekend’s 2015 John Deere Classic exactly one week before The Open. Should the young phenom win at St. Andrews next weekend, he would become the first player since 1953 to win a year’s first three majors. The appearance at the John Deere Classic is Spieth’s first since winning the U.S. Open three weeks ago. He has some experience at TPC Deere Run having won the tournament in 2013. With the victory, Spieth became the youngest PGA tournament champion in history. Bookmakers are predicting that the 21-year-old will dominate the field for this weel's PGA Tour event with golf odds favoring Spieth to win at 3/1. Spieth’s chief competition should come from Zach Johnson (9/1) and Steve Stricker (30/1).
The pair have owned the John Deere Classic for the past six years. Since 2009, either Johnson or Stricker has won or finished second. Stricker, who is in a sort of semi-retirement, won the tournament three years in a row (2009, 2010, 2011). Both players should do well once again. They both hit straight off the tee and have solid wedge games. Johnson, the 29th-ranked player in the world, won the John Deere Classic in 2012 and was second in 2009, 2013, and 2014. He is playing well as of late with two Top Ten finishes in his last three starts. Like Spieth, Johnson will also leave quickly after Sunday’s final round and head to Scotland for The Open. Other favorites in golf betting odds to win the 2015 John Deere Classic include Kevin Kisner (14/1), Brian Harman (33/1), Ryan Moore (25/1), Harris English (30/1) and Justin Thomas (33/1).
Kisner is coming off a playoff loss in last week’s Greenbrier Classic. It was his second playoff loss of the season. Harman is the tournament’s defending champion. He was third at the Travelers Championship two weeks ago and should play well. Moore has only two Top Ten finishes in 13 starts this season. If he can be more consistent with his irons, he has a good chance at a third Top Ten. English has not had a great year thus far. He has struggled since tying for second at the Farmers Insurance Open back in February. Thomas, like English, hasn’t played well lately – he tied for 54th at Greenbrier and didn’t make the cut at the Travelers. That being said, Thomas and English could be profitable picks in golf odds to win the 2015 John Deere Classic as they are expected to challenge the rest of the field this weekend.