Archives for: 2013

12/29/13

NFL 2013 NFL Week 17 Predictions

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It's here. NFL regular season final weekend. The playoff picture is almost complete. Green Bay vs Chicago in a winner take all for NFC North. New Orleans & Arizona vying for NFC's final wild card slot. Over in the AFC, it's between Miami, Baltimore & San Diego. (NFL Playoff picture)

9-7 in Week 16. Season totals 156-83 (65.3%). Final 2013 regular season predictions (home team in CAPS)....

Week 17

SUNDAY
TITANS 27 Texans 24
Panthers 30 FALCONS 14
Ravens 21 BENGALS 20
COLTS 35 Jaguars 10
DOLPHINS 24 JETS 14
Lions 28 VIKINGS 26
GIANTS 21 Redskins 17
STEELERS 27 Browns 20
BEARS 24 Packers 23
Broncos 38 RAIDERS 14
PATRIOTS 24 Bills 7
SAINTS 33 Bucs 13
49ers 21 CARDINALS 17
Chiefs 27 CHARGERS 23
SEAHAWKS 26 Rams 24
Eagles 30 COWBOYS 17

12/20/13

NFL 2013 NFL Week 16 Predictions

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Last weekend was featured crazy games highlighted by another Dallas Cowboys December choke. St. Louis surprised New Orleans. Miami bested New England. San Diego knocked off Denver.

Only two weeks remain. NFL playoff picture coming into focus. Must win scenarios for a select few this weekend. Digger slipped off track nailing only 8 of 15 (147-76, 65.9%).

Week 16

SUNDAY
Dolphins 28 BILLS 10
BENGALS 32 Vikings 24
CHIEFS 27 Colts 23
RAMS 24 Bucs 17
Browns 30 JETS 14
REDSKINS 28 Cowboys 27
PANTHERS 31 Saints 28
Titans 24 JAGUARS 23
Broncos 38 TEXANS 34
LIONS 27 Giants 13
SEAHAWKS 24 Cardinals 20
PACKERS 27 Steelers 21
CHARGERS 31 Raiders 17
Patriots 30 RAVENS 23
EAGLES 27 Bears 20
MONDAY
49ERS 26 Falcons 24

12/13/13

NFL 2013 NFL Week 15 Predictions

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Only three weeks of games in the 2013 NFL season. Indianapolis is the only team to have locked up a division title (1 of 8). There's plenty left to be determined from division winners to wild card teams. (NFL standings).

AFC
East: New England (10-3) holding a comfortable lead over Miami (7-6). These two play in Miami on Sunday. Must win for Miami's wild card aspirations.
North: Cincinnati (9-4) maintaining 2 game lead over Baltimore (7-6). Baltimore edges Miami in tie-breakers for AFC's final slot.
South: Indianapolis clinched. Rest of the division playing for self respect (all eliminated from playoff contention).
West: Denver (11-3) holding onto 1/2 game lead over Kansas City (10-3). Denver holds tie break advantage having dumped KC twice. KC is suddenly slumping - losers in 3 of past 4 games after beginning 9-0. One win and KC is playoff bound. San Diego (7-7) is on the outside looking in but it's not over yet after last nights upset victory in Denver.

NFC
East: Philadelphia (8-5) has won 5 straight with Nick Foles leading their rejuvenated attack. Foles had thrown 19 TD's without an INT until last weekend. Dallas (8-6) is trying to keep pace. But, as all fans in Dallas are well aware, December football has not been favorable to this squad in recent years.
North: It's a logjam. Detroit (7-6) holds tiebreaker over Chicago (7-6). Green Bay (6-6-1) is keeping pace. These three teams have been battling key injuries all season long. This division may come down the final snap of regular season action.
South: New Orleans (10-3) coming off a huge win over Carolina (9-4) last weekend. Saints undefeated at home. Carolina looking good for wild card birth - unless they fold in final weeks.
West: Seattle (11-2) appears to be NFC's best. They're coming off a last minute loss to San Francisco (9-4). A win would have locked up the West. Arizona (8-5) has been playing solid football. Prognosticators barely mention Cardinals advancing to playoffs which works well for this squad. They're currently reside in 7th place (top six make playoffs). They finish the year playing Seattle & San Francisco.

Weekend 15 is huge for all teams trying to advance. Weather will be a big factor as winter storms show up again for the second consecutive weekend. Digger's picks went 11-5 last week raising the season total to 139-69 (66.8%). Time for Week 15 selections (home teams in CAPS).
(missed deadline for Thursday night game)

Week 15

SUNDAY
Redskins 27 FALCONS 24
Bears 17 BROWNS 16
COLTS 33 Texans 17
DOLPHINS 27 Patriots 23
Eagles 30 VIKINGS 20
Seahawks 24 GIANTS 7
49ers 27 BUCS 14
JAGUARS 27 Bills 17
Chiefs 38 RAIDERS 10
PANTHERS 28 Jets 6
COWBOYS 31 Packers 28
Cardinals 23 TITANS 21
Saints 35 RAMS 16
Bengals 20 STEELERS 17
MONDAY
LIONS 28 Ravens 24

12/05/13

NFL 2013 NFL Week 14 Predictions

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Now, that's a nice comeback! 12 of 16 correct picks increases Digger's season total to 128-64 (66.7%). Week 13 featured a bevy of great games and huge stats for fantasy coaches.
-Cleveland's Brandon Weeden armed 370 yards & 3 TD's in a losing effort against the suddenly hot Jacksonville Jaguars. Jags pulled off the win in the closing seconds when Chad Henne found Cecil Shorts III for a 20 yard TD play. Browns WR Josh Gordon finished with 261 yards receiving (2 TD). His second consecutive 200+ yard game. He's only 41 yards away from breaking the franchise's all time single receiving record.
-Pittsburgh & Baltimore battled in another typically close game. Steelers comeback efforts fell short by way of a missed 2 point conversion attempt.
-Minnesota & Chicago went toe-to-toe. This game was decided in OT on a Blair Walsh 34 yard FG. Vikes Adrian Peterson rumbled for 211 yards. Bears Josh McCown threw 249 of his 355 yards to WR Ashlon Jeffery. Jeffery's second 200 yard game of the season!
-Nick Foles has Philadelphia playing championship caliber football. Foles 3 TD tosses on Sunday gives him 19 on the season...with ZERO interceptions. He's the highest rated passer in the NFL - 125.2 Eagles improved to 7-5 after edging Arizona 24-21.
-Denver overcame a 21-7 deficit to win a 35-28 thriller in KC. Manning went over 400 yards again. Why didn't I draft him in 1st round???
-New England survived Houston 34-31. Brady to Gronkowski for 127 (TD). Texans backup HB Tate scored 3 times.
-Seattle creamed New Orleans clock on Monday Night Football (34-7) in every area of the contest. Seattle must be considered the NFL's best at this point in time.

Four weekends of football remain. Seattle clinched the NFC West. Indy on the verge of capturing AFC North. Every other division is up for grabs. Every second, every inch, every play magnified the rest of the way.

Let's get to it. Digger's Week 14 selections... (home team in CAPS).

Week 14

THURSDAY
JAGUARS 30 Texans 24
SUNDAY
BENGALS 27 Colts 23
*PACKERS 28 Falcons 14
Falcons 24 **PACKERS 13
PATRIOTS 37 Browns 21
Raiders 24 JETS 7
EAGLES 35 Lions 31
Dolphins 28 STELLERS 24
BUCS 28 Bills 14
Chiefs 24 REDSKINS 23
RAVENS 27 Vikings 16
BRONCOS 55 Titans 17
CARDINALS 26 Rams 24
Giants 27 CHARGERS 21
Seahawks 30 49ERS 16
Panthers 33 SAINTS 31
MONDAY
BEARS 28 Cowboys 20

* = Packers win if Rodgers starts.
**= Packers lose if Rodgers does not start.

11/28/13

NFL 2013 NFL Week 13 Predictions

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

Week 12 was a crazy weekend of NFL action. Green Bay vs Minnesota ended in a 26-26 tie! Detroit was dumped by Tampa Bay. The suddenly explosive Rams carved up Chicago 42-21. It's never easy watching good teams fail miserably... Texans flat out stink and proved it by losing to woeful Jacksonville... at home! Indianapolis is getting exposed - Cardinals flew right past them 40-11. Broncos coughed up a huge lead as Brady's hot 2nd half led the way to 34-31 OT victory. Cowboys offensive line woke up just in time to protect Romo for a final game drive to win on the last play in NY 24-21.

So what does this all mean in regards to teams playoff hopes? (standings) Simplest answer, it's remains a fight to the finish. Only 6 of 32 teams have no shot at playoff action. As of right now, AFC's 6th seeded team would be the 5 win, 6 loss Tennessee Titans by virtue of tie-breaker rules vs 5 others. Final seed might back in with a losing record. Two NFC division leaders sporting mediocre 6-5 records. Crazy stuff indeed.

Speaking of crazy... only 6 correct picks last weekend thanks to a bevy of upsets. 116-60 (65.9%) Nearly every game has huge implications this weekend. Home team in CAPS.

Week 13

THANKSGIVING
LIONS 34 Packers 24
COWBOYS 40 Raiders 17
RAVENS 23 Steelers 17
SUNDAY
BROWNS 26 Jaguars 14
COLTS 24 Titans 23
Bears 24 VIKINGS 16
Dolphins 20 JETS 10
EAGLES 24 Cardinals 20
PANTHERS 27 Bucs 17
Patriots 42 TEXANS 9
BILLS 17 Falcons 13
Rams 31 49ERS 27
Broncos 34 CHIEFS 23
Bengals 28 CHARGERS 20
Giants 24 REDSKINS 20
MONDAY
SEAHAWKS 30 Saints 27

11/21/13

NFL 2013 NFL Week 12 Predictions

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The NFL playoff picture has become mighty crowded.
-NY Giants (4-6) are clawing their way back into NFC East contention. Dallas (5-6) visits NY in a game of the week atmosphere. There's been plenty of trash talking heading into this one.
-Denver (9-1) handed KC their (9-1) first loss of the year and are tied atop AFC West. They meet again in two weeks.
-Two AFC teams are tied at 5-5 (Miami, NY Jets).
-Six 4-6 teams (Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Baltimore, Tennessee, Oakland, San Diego). Football is a game of inches. Each team listed above will be scrapping, fighting & clawing for every inch. Every play will have a decisive impact on their fortunes.

NFC is just a muddied....
-Philadelphia (6-5) leads NFC East but last place Washington (3-7) is only two off in loss column.
-Detroit & Chicago are tied (6-4) with Green Bay (5-5) trailing by 1 in NFC North.
-NFC South is a two team fight with Carolina (7-3) pressuring New Orleans (8-2).
-NFC West San Francisco & Arizona (both 6-4) fighting for Wild Card entry.

Week 11 was our bounce back weekend. 11 correct picks puts the season totals at 110-52 (67.9%).

Time to pick'em (home team in CAPS).

Week 12

THURSDAY
Saints 45 FALCONS 17
SUNDAY
Steelers 27 BROWNS 24
LIONS 37 Bucs 31
Packers 24 VIKINGS 20
CHIEFS 24 Chargers 17
Bears 27 RAMS 17
Panthers 28 DOLPHINS 13
RAVENS 26 Jets 19
TEXANS 17 Jaguars 10
Titans 28 RAIDERS 24
Colts 27 CARDINALS 24
GIANTS 34 Cowboys 27
Broncos 38 PATRIOTS 20
MONDAY
49ers 27 REDSKINS 21

11/17/13

NFL 2013 NFL Week 11 Predictions

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We stumbled a bit in Week 10. 7 right, 7 wrong. Not good by our standards. Season total now stands at 99-48 (67.3%). Jags first victory and Rams destroying Indy cracked our crystal ball.

AFC/NFC playoff races remain wide open based on equal sharing of mediocrity. A few very big divisional games this weekend will go a long way in determining team destinies.

Time to pick'em (home team in CAPS).

Week 11

THURSDAY
Colts 27 TITANS 14
SUNDAY
BEARS 24 Ravens 20
BILLS 27 Jets 14
BENGALS 27 Browns 13
EAGLES 31 Redskins 17
Lions 24 STEELERS 23
Falcons 28 BUCS 14
Cardinals 20 JAGUARS 10
TEXANS 17 Raiders 14
Chargers 42 DOLPHINS 17
SAINTS 35 49ers 20
GIANTS 27 Packers 6
SEAHAWKS 26 Vikings 10
BRONCOS 27 Chiefs 24
MONDAY
PANTHERS 31 Patriots 24

Bye: Dallas, St. Louis

11/07/13

NFL 2013 NFL Week 10 Predictions

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Week 9 results weren't up to usual standards. 7 right, 6 wrong. Losing two starting QB's early in games didn't help matters. Digger's season total now stands at 92-41 (69.2%).

The NFL season is half over. Many teams still struggling to find consistency and wins. There's still hope for many teams fighting to right their season. Week 10 games have become make or break for notables teams: Giants, Redskins, Cardinals, Dolphins, Bills, Ravens and Chargers. Injuries are becoming huge. Green Bay lost Aaron Rodgers for at least a month opening the door for NFC North rivals (Lions/Bears) to take their best shot.

Time to pick'em (home team in CAPS).

Week 10

THURSDAY
Redskins 24 VIKINGS 20
SUNDAY
Seahawks 27 FALCONS 20
Lions 33 BEARS 24
Eagles 23 PACKERS 21
TITANS 20 Jaguars 9
COLTS 27 Rams 10
GIANTS 30 Raiders 17
STEELERS 21 Bills 14
Bengals 31 RAVENS 17
49ERS 24 Panthers 23
Texans 17 CARDINALS 16
Broncos 42 CHARGERS 24
SAINTS 31 Cowboys 27
MONDAY
Dolphins 21 BUCS 17

·Bye: Cleveland, Kansas City, New England, NY Jets

10/31/13

NFL 2013 NFL Week 9 Predictions

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Now that's what I'm talking about. 11-2 on Week 8 picks brings AWAS season total to 85-35 (70.8%). My bookie will be broke soon enough!

There's just one unbeaten team (Kansas City) and one winless team (Jacksonville). How long will they keep their streaks going? NFC East gets uglier by the week after Dallas complete collapse vs Detroit. Seattle and SF will battle to the final week of the season in NFC West as will KC and Denver on AFC side.

Week 9 doesn't have a single "must watch" game on paper. This is the weakest weekend I can ever remember. Just flat out ugly with the lone exception Monday night when Chicago visits rival Green Bay. Time to pick'em (home team in CAPS).

Week 9

THURSDAY
Bengals 27 DOLPHINS 17
SUNDAY
Chiefs 21 BILLS 17
COWBOYS 28 Vikings 17
Titans 27 Rams 13
Saints 37 JETS 10
Chargers 28 REDSKINS 21
PANTHERS 33 Falcons 24
RAIDERS 17 Eagles 13
SEAHAWKS 26 Bucs 14
Ravens 23 BROWNS 21
PATRIOTS 24 Steelers 20
Colts 30 TEXANS 20
MONDAY
PACKERS 27 Bears 23

Bye: Arizona, Denver, Detroit, Jacksonville, NY Giants, San Francisco.

10/23/13

NFL 2013 NFL Week 8 Predictions

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Back to back 11 win weekends improves Digger's season total to 74-33 (69.2%). I'm posting on time this week after the fiasco from a few days ago. Week 7 featured Eli Manning's New York Giants winning their first of the season (1-6) and brother Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos losing their first (7-1). Kansas City remains as the leagues lone undefeated squad (7-0). Andy Reid has these guys believing. Good ball control offense and tenacious defense are ruling the day for KC.

New York Jets backed into a win over hated rival New England last weekend thanks largely to a first time ever called penalty against Pats special teams on a errant field goal attempt by the Jets. Controversy immediately irrupted after Pats special teams were called for pushing his own man aiding to block a field goal attempt. What is happening in the NFL? Stupid rules lead to stupid penalties. Technically, yes, I guess New England did commit this ridiculously stupid infraction (how did this rule ever become law in the first place???). But, to call it in OT for the first time after then type of incident happens on nearly EVERY field goal and extra point attempt is beyond believe. Long story short, Jets inched closer and kicked a game winning OT field goal to stun Patriots.

Good games featured in Week 8. Perfect time to jump between games in progress (home team in CAPS).

Week 8

THURSDAY
Panthers 31 BUCS 24
SUNDAY
LIONS 30 Cowboys 28
CHIEFS 28 Browns 10
PATRIOTS 24 Dolphins 14
SAINTS 42 Bills 10
Giants 28 EAGLES 24
49ers 36 JAGUARS 3
Jets 24 BENGALS 21
Steelers 21 RAIDERS 17
BRONCOS 48 Redskins 14
Falcons 26 CARDINALS 21
Packers 52 VIKINGS 10
MONDAY
Seahawks 31 RAMS 13

·Bye: Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, San Diego, Tennessee.

NFL 2013 NFL Week 7 Predictions

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11 wins in Week 6 brings Digger's season total to 63-29 (68.4%). Week 7 predictions weren't posted due to time delay mechanism failure. Our apologies. Better late than never... here's how we had the weekend pegged
(home team in CAPS).

Week 7

THURSDAY
Seahawks 30 CARDINALS 10
SUNDAY
FALCONS 33 Bucs 17
LIONS 26 Bengals 24
DOLPHINS 20 Bills 17
Patriots 27 JETS 17
Cowboys28 EAGLES 13
REDSKINS 34 Bears 23
PANTHERS 28 Rams 14
Chargers 35 JAGUARS 10
49ers 28 TITANS 9
PACKERS 34 Browns 14
CHIEFS 27 Texans 21
STEELERS 24 Ravens 23
Broncos 37 COLTS 27
MONDAY
GIANTS 26 Vikings 17

·Bye: New Orleans, Oakland.

2013 World Series Preview: Cardinals vs Red Sox

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The time has come to crown a new World Series Champion. Two proud franchises will go head to head. St. Louis Cardinals vs Boston Red Sox. NL's best team of 2013 vs AL's best team of 2013.

Boston & St. Louis are perfectly matched teams. Both teams feature clutch hitting, aggressive base running, solid defense, strong bullpens and solid managers. Each game will be tight. Here's a break down of what to expect.

Starting pitching. If there's an edge to be had in this Series it belongs to the Cardinals rotation. Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94), Michael Wacha (4-1, 2.78) & Joe Kelly (10-5, 2.69) are projected starters in first three games. Wainwright is as clutch as they come. Devastating variety of pitchers figure to keep Red Sox hitters off balance all night long. Wacha has been lights out this post-season going 3-0 while surrendering just 1 run in 21 innings. They will be going head to head up in Boston vs Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75) and John Lackey (10-13, 3.52). There's no margin for error in World Series play. Lester & Lackey need their A games. Edge: Cardinals

Lineups: Clutch hitting Adam Craig returns to Cards lineup after a 7 week absence. He'll DH in Games 1 & 2 and relegated to PH duties when games shift to St. Louis. Top to bottom both lineups are as tough as they come. Nearly all Cards hitters get it done in clutch situations. Boston features significantly more power and have been pretty clutch themselves this post-season. The games will boil down to whichever team is successful with situational hitting vs tough starting pitching. Question for Boston is who plays 1B in St. Louis? Napoli or Ortiz. Remember, no DH in NL park. Edge: Even.

Bullpens. Very strong relievers fill both bullpens. Cards have overall edge for middle relief and setup men while Boston's closer has been lights out (Uehara).

Weather factor: A factor seldom discussed when addressing World Series games. A cold front moved into Fenway this afternoon. Cold blustery weather forecast for Games 1 & 2 in Boston could effect pitcher's ball grip. This is somewhat significant as breaking ball may not bite sharply or pitchers susceptible to hanging one from time to time. 30 degree weather has arrived. A cold front is also expected in St. Louis. 50's daytime, 30's nighttime. Edge: even.

Managers: Red Sox have been running this season. Cards hit and run. These teams love their skippers. Both experts in situational substitutions from the pen and off the bench.

Defense: Better infield D belongs to Boston. OF & C (Molina) to St. Louis. Edge: Errors are huge in World Series play.

Outlook: It boils down to Cardinals rotation vs hot Red Sox hitters. Napoli, Victorino & Ortiz have been clutch. Beltran padding record book. World Series has potential for an epic 7 games. Red Sox prevail, 4 games to 3.

10/11/13

NFL 2013 NFL Week 6 Predictions

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9 wins, 5 wrongs last week. 52-25 (67.5%) thru 5 weeks of action. And the winners in Week 6 will be.... (home team in CAPS).

Week 6

THURSDAY
BEARS 31 Giants17
SUNDAY
Bengals 24 BILLS 20
Lions 26 BROWNS 24
CHIEFS 30 Raiders 13
Panthers 27 VIKINGS 24
JETS 28 Steelers 10
Eagles 31 BUCS 20
Packers 35 RAVENS 14
TEXANS 23 Rams 14
BRONCOS 56 Jaguars 7
SEAHAWKS 24 Titans 17
49ERS 28 Cardinals 10
Saints 35 PATRIOTS 31
COWBOYS 27 Redskins 21
MONDAY
Colts 28 CHARGERS 27

10/05/13

2013 MLB Playoffs - AL Division Series: Rays vs Red Sox

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Tampa Bay Rays (92-71) vs Boston Red Sox (97-65)

Boston rebounded from AL East worst in 2012 to baseball's best record in 2013. What a difference one year and one competent manager can make. Boston is a team on a mission. Solid hitting, solid pitching, solid base runners, solid defense = 97 wins. Gutsy Tampa Bay does it all with a limited budget and fairweather fans (dead last in home attendance). Yet, this teams plays fundamental baseball behind a talented manager and strong pitching staff.

Pitching:
Boston rotation - Lester (15-8), Lackey (10-13), Buchholz (12-1) & Peavy (4-1). Tampa rotation - Moore (17-4), Price (10-8), Cobb (11-3) & Hellickson (12-10). Red Sox won season series (12-7). Rays facing a powerful top to bottom Red Sox attack. Sox feature strong starters and lights out bullpen. Edge: Boston.

Offense:
Red Sox stocked lineup will give Rays pitchers fits. Ellsbury, Victorino, Pedroia, Ortiz, Napoli, Gomes, Saltalamacchia, Drew & Middlebrooks form one of baseball's best lineups. Speed, power, timely hitting & playoff experience can score in bunches. Red Sox hitters will not be denied in this series.
Rays weaker lineup manages to get the job done but is no match for a slugfest -CF Jennings, 2B Zobrist, RF Myers, 3B Longoria, DH Young, LF Rodriguez, SS Escobar, 1B Loney, C Lobaton/Molina. Rays manufacture runs. Heart of the order is clutch but will have a tough time keeping up with Red Sox attack.

Prediction: Red Sox dominated in regular season. Rays clawed and scratched their way into playoffs. Red Sox are the better team. Sox in 4.

10/03/13

2013 MLB Playoffs - NL Division Series: Braves vs Dodgers

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Atlanta Braves (96-66) vs Los Angeles Dodgers (92-70)

Pitching:
Bring on the heat. Both of these NLDS pitching staffs feature flame throwers. Dodgers with Cy Young front-runner Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and relievers paced by closer Kenley Jansen. Kershaw & Greinke represent the best 1-2 punch in this year's playoffs on paper. Don't crowd the plate against Braves starters Medlen, Teheran & Minor. Fire baller closer Kimbrel saved 50 of 54 and sports a career 15.1 strikeouts per 9 innings.
Probable rotations: (LA) Kershaw, Greinke, Ryu vs (Atl) Medlen, Minor, Teheran.

Offense:
Dodgers enter the series with two big injuries. Matt Kemp is inactive. Andre Ethier will only be used as a pinch hitter in NLDS. LA's Game 1 lineup: LF Crawford, 2B Ellis, SS Ramirez, 1B Gonzalez, RF Puig, 3B Uribe, CF Schumaker, C Ellis. Dodgers offense was banged up early on in 2013. Ramirez & Kemp missed time with injuries. Puig was still playing minor league ball. Manager Don Mattingly seemed only moments away from being replaced after LA stumbled to a 30-42 record. LA caught fire when Puig joined the lineup. Their lineup was juiced once Ramirez returned. Before you knew it LA finished the year 62-28 and Mattingly went from potential firing to Manager of the Year candidate. Timely hitting & lights out pitching is their theme.
Atlanta decided to keep Uggla off of their roster ... by choice. Uggla was miserable at the dish batting an anemic .179. His defense at 2B will be sorely missed. Braves opening lineup: CF Heyward, RF J. Upton, 1B Freeman, LF Gattis, C McCann, 3B Johnson, SS Simmons, 2B Johnson = 4th highest run production in NL.

Prediction: Kershaw & Greinke are just too tough in a best of five series. Dodgers play much better defense too. Dodgers sweep.

10/02/13

NFL 2013 NFL Week 5 Predictions

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Denver & Peyton Manning are destroying every team in their path. Broncos football is 2nd to none thus far after 4 weeks of play. Next up, Cowboys (2-2) in Big D. Speaking of big... big trouble brewing for winless Giants, Steelers & Jaguars. On the flip side, joining Denver as unbeaten teams are New Orleans, Kansas City, New England & Seattle.

9 of 15 correct picks last weekend brings Digger's season total to 43-20 (68.3%). Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Washington bye week (home in CAPS).

Week 5

THURSDAY
BROWNS 26 Bills 14
SUNDAY
Saints 31 BEARS 17
Patriots 27 BENGALS 21
PACKERS 27 Lions 23
Chiefs 21 TITANS 10
Seahawks 33 COLTS 10
RAMS 13 Jaguars 10
Ravens 27 DOLPHINS 17
Eagles 31 GIANTS 14
Panthers 34 CARDINALS 17
Broncos 48 COWBOYS 10
49ERS 27 Texans 23
Chargers 35 RAIDERS 13
MONDAY
FALCONS 24 Jets 10

2013 MLB Playoffs - NL Division Series: Pirates vs Cardinals

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Ready, set, go. National League Division Series Playoffs begins Thursday night in St. Louis. Pittsburgh scorched the Cincinnati Reds 6-2 in a one game Wild Card to advance.

2013 is Pittsburgh's first playoff appearance since 1992 and Pirates fans were ready, willing and able participants. They're boisterous energies taunted Cincinnati's starting pitcher all night. Perhaps their energy caused an ineffective Cueto to drop the baseball in between pitches? Now it's off to play the Cardinals in NLDS action.

Pittsburgh Pirates (94-68) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (97-65)

Pitching:
Bucktober baseball opens up with A.J. Burnett who went 3-1 against the Cardinals this season taking on Adam Wainwright (1-0 in 3 starts vs Pit). Both hurlers feature knee buckling off speed stuff to compliment electric fastballs. Hitters for both teams could be in for a long night if these guys bring their A games. Bucs haven't chosen a Game 2 starter against Lance Lynn. Lirano starts Game 3 back in Pittsburgh where he's been dominant all season. Both teams employ stingy bullpens. Situational pitching will dictate the day.

Offense:
Pittsburgh is fired up. Hitters are in the zone. Lead off man Marte's hand healed and he's seeing the ball well. Neil Walker is raking. McCutcheon is MVP candidate. Morneau's due for a power surge. Byrd has been exceptional since being stolen from the Mets. 3B Alvarez is a streaky ball masher. Russell Martin crushed 2 round-trippers in the WC game. SS split of Barmes/Mercer shouldn't be taken for granted. Pirates are feeling it having won 4 straight. Big test coming up on the road against Wainwright.
Cardinals hitters have produced many thrilling playoff games in recent years. However, Mr. Clutch Allen Craig's foot injury will keep him out of NLDS action. Craig was hitting an astonishing .454 with 83 RBI in only 130 AB with runners in scoring position. Clubbing .700 with bases loaded on 7 of 10 with 20 RBI. A serious MVP candidate before injury. Probable Game 1 lineup features 55 double man Carpenter leading off followed by prime time playoff hitter Carlos Beltran (RF). LF Matt Holliday (.300) is 3rd. Allen's replacement Matt Adams at 1B slugging .505. The Cards Mr October Molina bats 5th (.373 RISP). CF Jon Jay (.351 OBA) followed by 3B Freese. Starting SS remains to be seen between Descalso and Kosma. Cards lineup is very talented, very clutch and no strangers to playoff baseball.

Prediction: Best of 5 series has all the makings of going the distance. Cards hitters possess more patience meaning they don't necessarily chase bad pitches. Cards clutch lineup feast on opposing pitchers mistakes. A deadly combination in post-season play (and for a team riding a 6 game win streak). This all goes away if Burnett's on his game but he's known to throw many pitches so fatigue factor likely comes into play. Bucs lineup is dangerous but a bit more free swinging.
NLDS destined for 5. If Liriano (3-0, 0.75 vs StL) pitches Game 5 then Bucs advance.

09/27/13

2013 A.W.A.S. Baseball Awards

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The 2013 Major League Baseball season is coming to an end. Another spectacular season soon to be etched into baseball history. It's been a season filled with high and low moments. Winners, losers, no hitters, records, pennant races, suspensions and retiring legends.

All World All Sports examined the best and worst of 2013. Time to announce our annual awards.

MVP
AL: Miguel Cabrera (Detroit). Miggy becomes the first AL player to win back to back awards since Frank Thomas (1993-94). Detroit doesn't win AL Central without his contributions.
NL: Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh) I'm prediction NL MVP official voting will be the closest in history. So many deserving players. Paul Goldschmidt (Arizona), Freddie Freeman (Atlanta), Yadier Molina (STL), Matt Carpenter (STL). McCutchen gets my vote as being an essential cog in Pittsburgh first winning season & first post-season appearance since 1992.

CY YOUNG
AL: Max Scherzer (Detroit) Another very close battle with plenty of deserving candidates. However, 21-3, .970 WHIP, 6.4 H/9, 10.1 K/9 too much to overlook.
NL: Clayton Kershaw (LA) Near unanimous selection will give Kershaw his 2nd Cy Young in 3 seasons.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
AL: Wil Myers (TB)
NL: Jose Fernandez (Miami)

MANAGER OF THE YEAR
AL: Terry Francona (Cleveland)
NL: Clint Hurdle (Pittsburgh)

FIREMAN OF THE YEAR
(Top Closer)
AL: Greg Holland (KC)
NL: Craig Kimbrel (Atlanta)

MAN OF THE YEAR
Mariano Rivera (NYY). Mariano Rivera pitched his final game in Yankee Stadium last night. Baseball's oldest current player (44) goes down in history as the games greatest closer, ever. He's known as one of the greatest men ever to play. Not just because of raw natural ability. He's a man's man. Religiously devoted, giving & unselfish Rivera's one of the few players liked by nearly everyone. Never a bad word ever published in a town known for unrelenting media attention. Not a dry eye in Yankee Stadium last night when Mariano was removed from the game with 2 outs in the 9th inning. Rivera wept like a child in Andy Pettitte's arms as a sold out crowd rewarded with a thunderous & never to be forgotten standing ovation.

09/26/13

NFL 2013 Week 4 Predictions

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11 correct Week 3 predictions raises our season total to 34-14. Week 4 is the first bye week of young season (Green Bay & Carolina). NY Giants, Washington, Pittsburgh, Minnesota & Tampa Bay are not used to losing their first three games of the year. All sit at 0-3 looking for answers.

-Giants offensive line is horrendous. Running game inept. Eli Manning 8 INT's.
-Washington's bottom ranked defense and RGIII not playing well.
-Aging Pittsburgh has no rhythm on offense.
-Minnesota lost to Cleveland, enough said.
-Tampa Bay makes QB change. Rookie QB from NC State Mike Glennon takes over. Josh Freeman benched, demands trade.
-Jacksonville, no hope in sight. -64 DIFF worst in NFL.

Every game seems big this week. Huge implications for all involved. Time to announce crystal ball results (home team in CAPS).

Week 4

THURSDAY
49ers 34 CARDINALS 14
SUNDAY
Ravens 27 BILLS 13
Bengals 27 BROWNS 20
LIONS 37 Bears 24
CHIEFS 28 Giants 17
BUCS 17 Cardinals 16
Colts 31 JAGUARS 10
Seahawks 27 TEXANS 21
Steelers 21 VIKINGS 20
Jets 27 TITANS 23
Redskins 20 RAIDERS 10
BRONCOS 52 Eagles 17
CHARGERS 31 Cowboys 23
FALCONS 30 Patriots 24
MONDAY
SAINTS 37 Dolphins 17

09/21/13

NFL 2013 Week 3 Predictions

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NFL's second week of action produced great fantasy stats for lucky team owners. Julio Jones (182 yards, TD), Jimmy Graham (179, TD) & James Jones (178) posted monster yard totals. Aaron Rodgers tossed for 480 & 4 scores to lead QB's. Packers backup RB James Starks filled in admirably for injured 1st stringer to post 158 combined (rush/receiving) and a TD.

Week 3 represents early season must win games. NY Giants have been horrible & might catch a break in Carolina. Redskins rebound? Vikings victorious? Will Tampa Bay buck their losing ways? We'll soon find out.

I posted 10 correct picks last weekend. Season total after two weeks stands at 23-9 (72%). Time to get back on track (home teams in CAPS).

THURSDAY
Chiefs 24 EAGLES 21
SUNDAY
Packers 35 BENGALS 31
COWBOYS 27 Rams 10
Chargers 30 TITANS 17
VIKINGS 31 Browns 3
PATRIOTS 35 Bucs 10
SAINTS 35 Cardinals 3
Lions 23 REDSKINS 17
PANTHERS 20 Giants 13
RAVENS 28 Texans 21
Falcons 24 DOLPHINS 20
JETS 17 Bills 16
49ERS 27 Colts 17
SEAHAWKS 33 Jaguars 0
Bears 21 STEELERS 20
MONDAY
BRONCOS 52 Raiders 7

09/12/13

NFL 2013 Week 2 Predictions

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Week 2 predictions (home team in CAPS). 13 correct picks in Week 1. Time to call my bookie after finishing 13-3.

THURSDAY
PATRIOTS 37 Jets 10
SUNDAY
FALCONS 31 Rams 17
Panthers 27 BILLS 14
Vikings 21 BEARS 17
PACKERS 38 Redskins 20
COLTS 24 Dolphins 21
CHIEFS 28 Cowboys 24
RAVENS 31 Browns 0
TEXANS 35 Titans 21
EAGLES 42 Chargers 14
Lions 30 CARDINALS 16
Saints 31 BUCS 17
RAIDERS 13 Jaguars 9
Broncos 45 GIANTS 35
49ers 21 SEAHAWKS 20
MONDAY
BENGALS 23 Steelers 21

09/05/13

NFL 2013 Week 1 Predictions

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Are you ready for NFL 2013? Buckle up! Another sensational season kicks off beginning with a rematch from the AFC Championship Game. Denver appears to have the best team on paper as they seek revenge vs last season's Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore lost a slew of All Pro defensive player (retired).

There's plenty to talk about heading into the new season. NY Jets open the season with rookie Gino Smith at QB attempting to wake up one of the leagues ugliest offensive systems. Can Minnesota's MVP RB surpass 2,000 yards in back to back seasons? Does San Francisco have what it takes to get back to the Super Bowl this season? Can Eli Manning survive one of football's worst offensive lines and weak running attack? Who else agrees Cleveland will not win a single game this year? Will Dallas finally return to the playoffs? Philadelphia rebuilding or rejuvenated with a new head coach? Answers will be coming soon.

Week 1 action is here. Time for annual All World All Sports week by week predictions (home team in CAPS)

THURSDAY
BRONCOS 38 Ravens 14
SUNDAY
Patriots 34 BILLS 10
BEARS 20 BENGALS 17
Dolphins 28 BROWNS 3
SAINTS 38 Falcons 31
Texans 27 COLTS 23
Bucs 24 JETS 14
STEELERS 23 Titans 17
LIONS 33 Vikings 28
COLTS 24 Raiders 7
SEAHAWKS 30 Cardinals 6
Chiefs 24 JAGUARS 6
RAMS 27 Cardinals 14
49ERS 31 Packers 27
Giants 35 COWBOYS 28
MONDAY
REDSKINS 24 Eagles 23
Texans 42 CHARGERS 21

NFL 2013 Predictions

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The 2012 NFL season was one to remember. It was a rough beginning thanks to replacement referee's dominating headlines with one bad call after another. When regular ref's returned, so did spectacular play capped off by sensational playoff action.

Defending Champion Baltimore Ravens attempt to become the first back to back champs since the 2003-04 New England Patriots. The Ravens will have their hands full after a busy off season of retirements and roster changes. Can Baltimore pull it off? Odds are long. Only time will tell.

NFC
EAST

1) NY Giants - Offensive line will make or break Giants chances in '13.
2) Washington Redskins - RGIII and company take next step forward. Is he knee sound?
3) Dallas Cowboys - Big D soap opera continues. Same old questions linger. It's all up to Romo.
4) Philadelphia Eagles - A new era begins.

NORTH
1) Green Bay Packers - Playoff frustrations continue. Explosive offense. Suspect defense.
2) Minnesota Vikings - MVP Peterson ran wild for 2,097 yards. Can he break 2,000 again?
3) Detroit Lions - Offense will roar if line can offer protection.
4) Chicago Bears - Tough division. Bears foes getting stronger. Began 7-1 last year before stumbling to 10-6 finish.

SOUTH
1) Atlanta Falcons - 13-3 last year before painful 1st round playoff exit.
2) *New Orleans Saints - Bountygate is over. Coaching staff returns. Brees primed to light up scoreboards.
3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Bucs quickly maturing. Tenacious D. Offense has weapons. Don't be surprised if TB has big season.
4) Carolina Panthers - Taking baby steps. Steve Smith is only bonified WR and will be doubled all season long. Others must step it up when number called or it's going to be a very long season.

WEST
1) San Francisco 49ers - Poised to battle for division crown vs Seattle for years to come. Exciting offense, stingy defense.
2) *Seattle Seahawks - They came together in 2nd half of season. Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and hard hitting defense set the tone.
3) St. Louis Rams - One small step at a time.
4) Arizona Cardinals - It's going to be a long year in Arizona.

NFC Champion - Green Bay Packers

AFC
EAST

1) New England Patriots - Brady's offense has new faces. Results will be same in soft division.
2) Miami Dolphins - Maturing team hopes to win more than they lose.
3) New York Jets - Ugly from top to bottom beginning with pathetic front office and coaches.
4) Buffalo Bills - No place to go but up.

NORTH
1) Baltimore Ravens - Super Bowl Champs have plenty of new faces on D. Flacco steady as they come under pressure.
2) Pittsburgh Steelers - Aging quickly. Is there enough gas left in the tank for a playoff run?
3) Cincinnati Bengals - Division contenders if they finally learn to stop making stupid mistakes.
4) Cleveland Browns - Get ready for Charlie Brown football highlights.

SOUTH
1) Houston Texans - They were rolling until costly injuries took hold. They lost final 3 of 4 and didn't look good in playoffs.
2) Indianapolis Colts - 11 wins stunned football world. NFL is ready for them this year. 11 will be tough to repeat.
3) Tennessee Titans - Will excel if line creates running lanes for Chris Johnson.
4) Jacksonville Jaguars - Long rebuilding process underway.

WEST
1) Denver Broncos - Poor coaching decision in Championship Game cost Broncos a trip to the Super Bowl. Manning has new weapons and is on a mission.
2) Kansas City Chiefs - Andy Reid has these guys ready to play.
3) San Diego Chargers - Norv Turner era finally over. Rivers & Co. need to stay healthy.
4) Oakland Raiders - Get ready for ugly football.

AFC Champion - Denver Broncos
Super Bowl Champions - Denver Broncos

03/28/13

MLB 2013 Preview: Kansas City Royals

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-Digger's Daily-

Can Kansas City take the American League by surprise in 2013? It's been 27 years and counting since Kansas City's last playoff appearance. The Royals were one of baseball's top teams during the mid 1970's-80's. Royals teams recorded just one winning season since 1994. Enough is enough. Royals management has made a determined effort to win now.

New faces for 2013 - starting pitchers Jamie Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Wade Davis & Ervin Santana give KC an instant boost on the mound. Add maturing young players into the mix and Royals fans have good reason to be hopeful. These guys can hit too. DH/1B Billy Butler, LF Alex Gordon, 3B Mike Moustakas, CF Lorenzo Cain, RF Jeff Francoeur, C Sal Perez, 2B Chris Getz and SS Alcides Escobar.

Let there be no doubt. Kansas City Royals are much improved heading into 2013. They're playing energized spring ball sporting a Major League best 23-7 record. Of course, spring training is practice ball so lets not get overly excited. Can they carry a winning attitude from spring ball to regular season play? Why not? AL Central is up for grabs. Detroit and Chicago have been tabbed as favorites. Minnesota and Cleveland fading. KC controls their own destiny this season.

Forecast: KC may have mortgaged their future to win now. They were panned for trading top prospect Wil Myers to land Shields & Davis. Another notorious slow start in April must be avoided. On paper, this team has talent and potential. A winning season well within reach. Anything less might lead to a total team shakeup in July. 81 wins a reality. Playoffs if they reach 90. Exciting days coming to KC.

03/22/13

MLB 2013 Preview: New York Mets

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-Digger's Daily-

The 2013 New York Mets has local fans dreading a return to the late 1970's. This team is not shaping up well on paper. Quite frankly, Mets ownership should be completely embarrassed on the state of baseball in Willets Point.

There's no room for error by Mets players. This squad must learn to manufacture runs one at a time. Unfortunately, many outs will be given away in a small ball game atmosphere (sacrifice bunts/caught stealing). Ike Davis needs to rebound from a 2012 first half from hell. He did well in latter months and one can only hope Davis bat is consistent from April through September this season. Fan favorite David Wright is nursing a rib injury and might not be ready opening day. There you have it. Davis and Wright as the Mets only two proven players on offense and defense. Yep, that's it!

As for the rest of the lineup: An open competition between lightweight hitters in NL's weakest outfield. LF belongs to developing talent Lucas Duda who disappointed in '12 after an impressive mid-season call up in '11. CF will be light hitting Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Re-tread light hitting Marlon Byrd is rumored to have won spring training's RF battle. Collin Cowgill and Jordany Valdespin to be spot starter/utility type role players.

Up the middle infield defense leaves much to be desired. Ruben Tejada (SS) and Daniel Murphy (2B) have potential to reach base. Their biggest handicap is keeping opponents from doing the same. Not much range and weak arms will drive pitching staff crazy all year long. Davis and Wright are top notch on the corners. Catching is another potential sore spot. John Buck has a career line of .235/.303/.405. He's hit over .227 only two times during past six seasons. It should be quite clear this team will need to scrap and claw for every single run in 2013. No margin for error. It can be done. Just don't bet on it. Back up Anthony Recker was a solid minor league hitter. Only 66 MLB AB's. He could be a nice surprise if given a regular chance to play.

New York Mets pitchers need to dominate every night if this team expects to win more than they lose. All need solid defense behind them. On paper, only Wright and Davis will provide help. Jonathan Niese is an All Star caliber pitcher getting better each year. Matt Harvey is another stud. Pure ace material but still must learn consistent command of stellar pitches. He's the real deal. Johann Santana still isn't 100% and will likely begin '13 on the DL. If he can regain and keep arm strength, then, Mets have a great 1-2-3. Shaun Marcum was brought in as a 4th starter and the final rotation slot has yet to be determined.

Bullpen is very deep and talented. These guys need to shut down inherited runners and not give up late inning runs. Baseball is a funny game. Mets will not be scoring often but could shock the baseball world behind strong pitching. Bullpen arms are very lively. Brandon Lyon, Bobby Parnell, Josh Edgin, Pedro Feliciano, Scott Atchison and potential closer Frank Francisco (injured). Francisco is the wrong choice closing out for a deep and talented pen. I have a feeling he won't last long. The final bullpen slots yet to be determined.

Forecast: By all logical accounts the Mets are headed to 90+ losses in 2013 unless Terry Collins finds Gil Hodges old playbook lying around. Lack of defense and extra base power might make for a very long season. Don't give up on this overly picked on team just yet even when there's nothing to get excited about. Games are won and lost on the field - not on paper. If they hustle, execute small ball & pitch - then expect some late season excitement.

03/21/13

MLB 2013 Preview: New York Yankees

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-Digger's Daily-

Will the 2013 New York Yankees go down in history as the largest payroll team finishing with a losing record? Can anyone remember the last time New York finished with a sub .500 record? Get ready fans, 2013 is shaping up to be a very long season.

Yankees are supposed to be in cost cutting mode. 2013 cumulative salaries exceed $200M. Only one major off season roster adjustment for the first time in ages (Kevin Youkilis). It could be a very long season for Yankees fans accustomed to winning. Then again, perhaps the 2013 version goes back to baseball basics. Hit, run, pitch & field. It's their only hope.

New York limps into opening day missing key cogs. Captain Derek Jeter's ankle is hurting. Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira will miss significant time. Mariano Rivera returns after missing most of '12. This squad reminds me of the late 90's pennant winning clubs. All prognosticators believe the Yankees are cooked. I think there's a great deal of hope.

2013 will not be another fodder of free swinging, no clutch, rally killing strikeout artists. Ichiro & Gardner provide contact, speed, defense and superb base running ability. Youkilis is a solid contact hitter who gnaws away at pitch counts. Robinson Cano is baseball's best second basemen and was WBC's batting star. 1B Dan Johnson is due. A great career minor league hitter for both power and average finally gets a shot in a hitters park after early years in Oakland. I predict a break out season in hitter friendly AL East if he can steal time away from Juan Rivera. Rivera might open the year at 1B and platoon in LF with recent pick-up Brennan Boesch. Rivera is a streak hitter who showed temporary flashes as an Angel. Boesch can rake it and New York's short right porch might make him an instant hit with Bleacher Bums. Russell Martin wasn't retained opening the door for catcher's Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart. Both are adequate defenders but can't hit a lick. Travis Hafner will DH. A carefully planned lineup could go a long way. Gardner, Ichiro, Youkilis, Cano, Hafner, Boesch, Johnson/Rivera, Nunez & Cervelli/Stewart on opening day. This lineup will put the ball in play. 2012 lineup struck out an alarming 1176 times featuring six with 90+, three with 100+, led by Granderson's 195. Why hasn't this club fired their hitting coach? Jeter will hopefully return soon. (However, don't expect much range from a surgically repaired ankle which is already causing problems. Nunez time to shine is now or never).

How well will the starting rotation pitch in 2013? CC Sabathia, Kuroda & Pettitte are a solid front three if A.P. can stay healthy. Back end is up for grabs. On again, off again Hughes tries to fulfill expectations (again). Ian Nova & David Phelps are battling for the final starting slot. There's no room for error in April. Hurlers need to come out of the gates in mid-season form or it will be a long season.

Bullpen, if not over worked, is a strength. Rivera returns to close and looks strong. Robertson, Logan, Aardsma, Joba, Eppley & Rapada have live arms. A very formidable pen on paper. We'll soon see how they perform in April.

Forecast: AL East is very tough. Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Rays & Yanks will battle all season long. Yanks need a strong April or they won't be able to keep pace. Small ball, hit and run, defense & pitching. Rivera is not a long term solution at 1B if Teix is out for the year. Yanks already spurned by Chipper Jones & Derek Lee. This squad may win as few as 79 games or as many as 95.

03/17/13

MLB 2013 Preview: Detroit Tigers

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-Digger's Daily-

Detroit will open the 2013 season as defending American League champions. San Francisco disposed of the Tigers in 4 straight World Series games leaving this squad hungry for revenge. They were simply out played in nearly ever facet of the game. So what's in store for '13?

2011 Cy Young winner Justin Verlander anchors Detroit's rotation. Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Max Sherzer fill out 2-4 slots. Second year man Drew Smyly looks like the favorite to nail down the final rotation spot and would be the teams only left handed starter. Just how far can these guys carry Detroit's title hopes remains to be seen. Big question marks remain for bullpen arms. Former closer (and still unsigned free agent) Jose Valverde was perfect in 2011 (49-49 in save opportunities). 2013 was a different story as he was terrible during September and the post-season. Closer duties are up for grabs this spring and nobody seems to be a front-runner at this time.

On offense, this might be one of the Tigers best lineups in recent memory. Triple Crown & AL MVP Miguel Cabrera and 1B slugger Prince Fielder are the headliners. Veteran Torii Hunter comes to town and takes over in RF. DH Victor Martinez returns after sitting out the entire 2012 season. DP combo of Infante & Peralta are clutch regular season performers. CF is anchored by rising star Austin Jackson. LF belongs to promising Andy Dirks. Runs should be plentiful.

Forecast: Bench depth might be an issue if starters get miss significant time with injuries. Starting rotation will need to go deep into games. Bullpen remains team weakness on paper. Detroit will win AL Central once again. However, if late inning pitching doesn't step up to protect leads then World Series hopes will remain on hold.

03/14/13

MLB 2013 Preview: San Francisco Giants

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-Digger's Daily-

The countdown to opening day has begun. Can San Francisco become baseball's first team to win back to back World Series titles in the new millennium? Winners in 2010 & 2012 has Giants fans believing they can win it all again in 2013.

Not much has changed since last season. The strength of this team lies squarely on the shoulders of starting pitchers. Cain, Bumgarner, Lincecum, Vogelsong & Zito remained injury free last year. They accounted for every start except two. The only question mark on this staff is two time Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum. He's was far removed from usual domination. His pitching motion isn't the same as Cy Young years and it's safe to assume more of the same until he corrects a major mechanical flaw.

San Francisco's offense usually doesn't dazzle but they're one of the top clutch hitting teams when the game is on the line. Don't forget how they became champs. During the '12 playoffs they came behind from 0-2 NLDS and 1-3 NLCS deficits before sweeping away Detroit in World Series action. Buster Posey was the only hitter to connect for more than 20 HR (24). Pablo Sandival's 63 RBI were good enough for 2nd highest (Posey 103). A full season from RF Hunter Pence will to wonders for scoring a few more runs. However, this one key missing ingredient from their attack as power.

Another strength is one of the National Leagues best bullpens. Relievers get the job done. Somehow they're always ready to go. Giants pitchers only completed 5 of 162. One of the keys in 2013 is keeping these guys healthy. Manager Bruce Bochy seems to make the right moves at the right time.

Forecast: Champs remain the team to beat. NL West will be a dogfight from beginning to end. Expect many dramatic 1 run contests. SF will go as far as their rotation takes them. 2013 will be challenging. 88-92 wins.

01/31/13

Super Bowl XLVII - Super Prediction

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-Digger's Daily-

The time has come to crown a new NFL champion. It's dubbed the "Brother Bowl". Jim Harbaugh's San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1) are 3 1/2 point favorites to beat brother John Harbaugh's Baltimore Ravens (10-6).

We've listened to a few sideshows heading into the big game.
- Super Bowl XLVII represents Ravens LB Ray Lewis final NFL game. He's been equally admired and criticized all week. Admired for his sensational play on the field. Severely criticized for three things...1) his involvement in a fight years ago leaving one man dead. No one was ever convicted and Lewis has refused any and all commentary. 2) Criticized for appearing to place himself above Ravens teammates by way of solo celebrations and post-game interviews. Most shockingly 3) accused of using PED's in a Sports Illustrated article. The magazine said Lewis sought help from a company that says its deer-antler spray and pills contain a banned product connected to human growth hormone.
- 49ers WR Randy Moss declared himself the best wide receiver in NFL history. Jerry Rice was quick to point out Moss hasn't won any Super Bowl's nor is he the leader in most receiving statistics. Moss is no stranger to controversy which seems to erupt in every city he's played during a fine career.
- 49ers DB Chris Culliver was forced to quickly take back anti-gay comments made earlier this week. During a live radio interview Culliver quipped: "I don't do the gay guys, man. I don't do that," Culliver said during the one-minute taped interview. "Ain't got no gay people on the team. They gotta get up outta here if they do. Can't be with that sweet stuff." So much for freedom of speech. 49ers officials quickly clamped down on Culliver.
- Legendary Miami Dolphins QB Dan Marino was exposed for fathering a child out of wedlock with another woman. Rumors swirl of Marino paying millions to the "other" woman to keep their affair (and child) silent. “This is a personal and private matter. I take full responsibility both personally and financially for my actions now as I did then,” Marino said. “We mutually agreed to keep our arrangement private to protect all parties involved.”
- Both Jim and John Harbaugh tried keeping media focused on their Super Bowl teams instead of Harbaugh vs Harbaugh (first time in history two brothers are head coaches of Super Bowl teams).
- Marshall Faulk keeps "Spygate" alive. "Spygate" was big news when New England Patriots were caught illegally filming opponents practice sessions. Faulk's Rams were defeated by New England in SB XXXVI 20-17. "Am I over the loss? Yeah, I'm over the loss," Faulk told CSNNE.com's Tom Curran on Tuesday. "But I'll never be over being cheated out of the Super Bowl. That's a different story. I can understand losing a Super Bowl; that's fine … But how things happened and what took place. Obviously, the commissioner gets to handle things how he wants to handle them. But if they wanted us to shut up about what happened, show us the tapes. Don't burn 'em."
(Commissioner Goodall burned tapes submitted as evidence against New England and cleared them of wrong doing for the SB game).

So, now that we've tackled the bizaar, are you ready for some football? Who will win?

Super Bowl XLVII features two very good head coaches. Two very strong defenses. Two clutch offenses. Sunday's game is probably the best player for player matchup in recent memory. Defense is expected to rule the day. Time to break down some key elements...

QB: (even) SF is led by tattooed rookie sensation Colin Kaepernick. He runs at will and can burn defenses with strong armed throws. He started SF's final 7 games after early season starter Alex Smith was sidelined by injury. He's a handful to shut down. If there's one team capable of slowing him down it's Baltimore's tenacious defense.
Baltimore has steady handed Joe Flacco leading the way. He has good vision, strong arm and protects the ball well. He'll face a furious 49ers pass rush and ever changing defensive schemes. I'll rank them even for one main reason. Although Kaepernick is more dynamic based on his rushing ability, Flacco reads defenses better and is cooler in the pocket. K's has never faced a defense like Baltimore's. Sunday might turn out to be a daunting learning on the job experience.

RB: (even) Frank Gore (SF) vs Ray Rice (Bal). Offensive lines key for both players. Both excellent runners and receivers out of the backfield. It'll be interesting watching how their coordinators fit them into game plans.

WR: (Ravens) I give the edge to Baltimore here. Boldin, Smith, Jones find ways to get open and have played great in playoff action. Flacco and these guys are on the same page. If Ravens line gives protection then look for a big day from these guys.
Randy Moss put a bullseye on his own back and Baltimore will make him pay dearly. Crabtree has been their go to guy all season and I expect Ravens defenders to keep him blanketed all game long.

TE: (even) Vernon Davis (SF) vs Dennis Pitta (Bal). Davis is a bruiser. Defenders better square up and wrap up or Davis will run them over. Pitta is a clutch chain mover and gives Flacco options.

Defense: (even) Both teams come flying after the ball. Niether is fooled often. All players appear healthy. 49ers were burned early and often against Atlanta in NFC Championship Game. However, they clamped down in the second half and completely stymied the Falcons soaring attack. Ravens were chewed up by Denver in divisional round but rebounded to keep Tom Brady and Patriots completely off balance.

Special teams: (Ravens) Ravens have a clear advantage here. Justin Tucker converted 30 of 33 field goals. Jacoby Jones returned 3 kicks for touchdowns (1 kickoff, 2 punts). He's a big key for field position this game. Niners kicker David Akers (29 of 42) has been struggling for most of the 2nd half of the season including a miss in the Championship Game. A miss on Sunday can make or break SF. His past misses might force Harbaugh's hand into going for it on 4th down when he might normally decide to kick.

Final outcome: It's going to be a great game. I'm expecting a very tight first half. The second half will belong to Baltimore. Ravens win 30-17.