For Entertainment Purposes …

December 4th, 2010

Now Joe is sure his readers fly to Vegas to wager legally, versus placing bets with the guy whose cell number changes every week. 

Regardless of how or why you wager, Joe knows there are many aspiring handicappers reading. So tplease the gambling crowd, Joe has turned to superpicker Bob Fox. A writer for various sports publications over the years, Fox flashed his stellar picking skills backin 2008 on, when Joe had a contest here among sports media.

Fox gives you a handful of games here every week. To date, Fox is 29-18 on the season. Not too shabby.

By BOB FOX analyst

South Carolina Gamecocks 31, Auburn Tigers 28
The SEC championship game has huge national title implications, as the 9-3 South Carolina Gamecocks do battle for the second time this season vs. the 12-0 Auburn Tigers. With a win, the War Eagles will punch their ticket to the BCS title game, but a loss could derail that dream. Auburn trailed South Carolina 20-7 in their first game this year (Sept. 25), but forced four turnovers and scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The ol’ ball coach of the Gamecocks is Steve Spurrier and he knows a little something about playing in the SEC championship game. Spurrier-coached Florida played in the first five SEC title games and seven overall in his tenure at Florida. Spurrier was 5-2 in those games. He has a very talented squad this year at South Carolina, led by QB Stephen Garcia (18 TD passes vs. 9 picks) RB Marcus Lattimore (1,114 yards rushing and 17 TDs) and WR Alshon Jeffery (75 receptions and 8 TDs).  Overall the Cocks are ranked 46th in the nation offensively, while they are ranked 30th in the country on defense, including a robust No. 5 ranking against the run.  That will be key, as the Tigers are obviously led by Heisman Trophy favorite QB Cam Newton, who loves to run when given that option. Newton has rushed for 1,336 yards and 18 TDs, and the Tigers are ranked No. 6 nationally in running the rock. Newton also tossed 24 TD passes to just six interceptions this season. Bottom line, the Gamecocks will have to play pretty much error-free football, but they have the type of offense and defense that can handle the Tigers, and I see an upset win that will cause a huge ripple in the BCS standings.
Tampa Bay Bucs 24, Atlanta Falcons 23
I heard former Tampa Bay Bucs great Derrick Brooks talking about this upcoming game on The Steve Duemig Show the other day, and he said that the 7-4 Bucs have to play their A game to get a win against the 9-2 Falcons. I think Brooks is spot on in his analysis, and the season-ending injury to S Cody Grimm last week doesn’t help matters for the Bucs, especially going up against a high octane passing offense led by QB Matt Ryan. Critics have said the Bucs haven’t beat anyone on their schedule with a winning record and that the Bucs often seem to win ugly. Ugly or not, the Bucs are close to realizing an opportunity to make the playoffs this year and with a win this week vs. the Dirty Birds, all critics will have to shut their pie hole. However, the Bucs will have to play an almost perfect game to accomplish that. I think they can do that. The last couple of weeks the Bucs have been much better vs. the run and that will be key as RB Michael Turner will be toting the rock early and often for the Falcons. Plus, the Bucs have to be concerned about containing Ryan and his assortment of weapons, including WR Roddy White and TE Tony Gonzales. Atlanta is ranked 10th overall in the NFL in offense (8th in rushing and 13th in passing). The Bucs meanwhile are ranked 24th in offense and will be facing the 20th ranked defense of the Falcons, who have issues in stopping the pass, as they are ranked only 26th in pass defense. The Bucs will need to have a balanced game plan offensively against the Falcons, led by QB Josh Freeman (15 TD passes compared to just 5 picks) and RB LeGarrette Blount, who has really sparked the Bucs rushing attack with his bruising style. Bottom line, the Bucs have to make more big plays than the Falcons, and that won’t be easy, but the Bucs certainly have the ingredients to make that happen in front of their faithful throng at the Ray Jay. 
Baltimore Ravens 20, Pittsburgh Steelers 17
This is the battle for AFC North supremacy Sunday night, with the 8-3 Steelers going on the road to face the 8-3 Ravens. This game will match two top-10 defenses, and both can be very physical. OLB James Harrison of the Steelers has been fined a whopping $125,000 so far this year because of some questionable hits as a matter of fact. But the big story Sunday night is the health of QB Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben has a right foot injury that some reports have called a break or fracture, while the Steelers deny the foot is broken. Either way, Roethlisberger is the master of getting away from pass pressure and this injury will not help matters for Big Ben. Roethlisberger is a huge factor, as he has had another nice season (12 TD passes compared to just four picks) after his four game suspension earlier this year. RB Rashard Mendenhall is also a prominent figure in the Steelers offense, as he has rushed for 962 yards and nine TDs. The Ravens offensively have a nice balance led by QB Joe Flacco (18 TD passes to just eight picks), RB Ray Rice, WRs Anquan Boldin & Derrick Mason, plus TE Todd Heap. But like all contests between these two teams, the team that plays the best defense usually wins. I see LB Ray Lewis, S Ed Reed and company making more big plays than their counterparts with the Steelers, led by the physically intimidating Harrison and S Troy Palamalu.
New England Patriots 24, New Yorks Jets 20
The war of words started Monday, when head coach Rex Ryan of the 9-2 Jets uttered this statement, “I came here to win,” Ryan said.  “As much as I respect and admire Bill Belichick, I came here to kick his ass, and that’s the truth. That’s just the way it is.” I would call those fighting words as the Monday night game approaches. The 9-2 Patriots aren’t easily frightened under the direction of Belichick. It helps when one has a QB of the caliber of Tom Brady. Brady leads the NFL with a 105.8 QB rating, as he has thrown 23 TD passes to just four picks.  rady is getting plenty of help with his receiving corp, as Wes Welker seems to be back in his usual productive form, plus is getting key help from Deion Branch as well. The two-headed rookie monster at TE, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, have combined for 61 receptions and nine TDs to help matters. The ground game of the Pats is led by BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who has rushed for 627 yards and 9 TDs. The 13th ranked offense of the Patriots will need all the help they can get versus the third-ranked defense of the Jets, led by ILB David Harris, S Jim Leonhard and CB Darrelle Revis. The Jets offense has been pretty productive as of late behind QB Mark Sanchez, RB LaDainian Tomlinson and WRs Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes. The Jets should have some opportunities vs. the 31st ranked defense of the Pats. Still, I see the Pats behind Brady and company making more big plays in this battle to take control of the AFC East division.

4 Responses to “For Entertainment Purposes …”

  1. New Era Buc Says:

    Great work Bob Fox. Sounds pretty reasonable to me. Ryan will force a pick to Talib while trying to feed big mouth White. Biggest Buc game in years. To bad the rest of the country won’t see it.

  2. Eric S Says:

    I truly didn’t get how any pundit could pick South Carolina. It really boggles my mind. Cam on the turf in the Georgia Dome. That was a no brainer. Auburn’s D is actually very good against the run, so South Carolina had to count on Garcia to win the game. I am very happy that I helped my sister win a College Pick ‘Em Contest. We are going to be splitting $700. This was a 12 week contest and I only had 10 games to pick this week. Auburn and VT were the easiest games by far to pick against spread. Turned out I was right.

  3. Bob Fox Says:

    Thanks New Era Buc. Matt Ryan has been in a zone recently, but that has been in the comforts of the Georgia Dome. I’m still concerned about the loss of Cody Grimm, but Aqib Talib has a knack for making big plays, as does his bookend at CB…Ronde Barber. The key for the Bucs is stopping the running game of the Falcons. The running game and Michael Turner set up Ryan with play action passes, and he has excelled in that area.

    Eric, I’m sure the money will come in handy for the holidays. I’ve had a pretty good season picking college games, and I know I was not alone in picking South Carolina yesterday. The Gamecocks should have won the first contest earlier this year between the two squads as a matter of fact. The turning point of the game yesterday was obviously the Hail Mary pass right before halftime. That definitely took the wind out of South Carolina’s sails. Right now I see Auburn beating Oregon in the BCS title game, and I also see Wisconsin bursting TCU’s bubble in the Rose Bowl.

  4. Eric S Says:

    The hail mary certainly helped. South Carolina should not have been so close anyway because a holding call pretty much wiped out the previous Auburn drive. The hail mary evened things out in my mind on how the game should have been anyway.

    Even with the hail mary, South Carolina had the ball first in the 2nd half. They could have scored there and made a 7 point game. They didn’t and the rest was history. I thought Auburn’s D would play a more complete game one of these days. They like the Bucs D have played great in the 2nd half.

    The first game between SC and Auburn was only Cam’s 4th game at Auburn. The guy has been getting more and more confident. So I still don’t get the pick. LSU’s run D was one of the highest rated when they played Auburn and Auburn ran all over LSU. And Cam is a very underrated passer with 3 very good receivers. I still don’t get the pick, but that was your opinion.