The way the PAT was, the ball was snapped from the two-yard line, which resulted in more than a 99% success rate. In fact, kickers got some grief if their extra point attempt didn’t go directly in the middle of the uprights. Now that grief might have a little merit.
The new rule change will have the ball snapped from the 15-yard line, which has still had about a 90% success rate on field goal attempts in the NFL in recent years. However, that 9-10% drop in the success rate could change the outcome of games, and especially picks against the spread for NFL games this season.
One thing that has remained the same is that a two-point conversion attempt will still be taken from the two-yard line. However, in the past, teams on defense couldn’t run the ball back and score in the case of an interception or a fumble. The new rule change will allow that to happen now. It’s rare that turnovers happen that far down the field anyway, but it could potentially be a four-point swing if the defense is able to score on the two-point conversion attempt.
For the casual NFL fans, this rule change does nothing more than make you stay seated for a little longer before you go get another snack or beverage. The PAT isn’t going to be as automatic anymore, but it’s still going to have a pretty high success rate. Kickers won’t have to lower their elevation of their kicks even at the 15-yard line, but they also won’t be able to shank it and still make the kick.
Whether you play fantasy football or if you just make NFL bets against the spread or straight up, these rule changes have a minor affect on how you make your picks. You really can’t rely on statistics about kickers missing the PAT, because not too many missed any. However, if you watch the games closely, some kickers barely squeak in the PAT inside the uprights at times. It’s those kickers that you will have to watch out for and really consider them when making your picks. The last thing you want to happen this upcoming season is the PAT rule to lose you a fantasy game, or even worse, make you lose your bet against the spread. Every point matters in the NFL with a lot of the games coming down to a field goal. The bottom line is that you shouldn’t be too affected by the rule change, but just be aware and take the trends into consideration when making your expert NFL picks for the upcoming season.
J.R. Smith showed exactly why the Cavaliers acquired him in the middle of the season. With Irving limited, Smith stepped up and put together a career performance. He ended up scoring 28 points, which included hitting 8 out of 12 three-point shots. When he got hot, there was no one that could stop him.
Even LeBron James just had to sit back and admire the performance at times. But LeBron also had his own work to do. He finished with 31 points and 8 rebounds to lead the Cavaliers in scoring. If that duo continues to play at that level for the rest of the series, then the Hawks may not have much of a chance to win.
The encouraging thing for Atlanta is that Smith doesn’t get that hot that often. Now that they let him beat them one time, you can bet that coach Mike Budenholzer won’t let it happen again. Even if they would have defended Smith well enough in game one to hold him to just five three-pointers, then the Hawks probably would have won the game.
When the Cavaliers go on a scoring streak, they make it last a long time. The Hawks now have the tough task of limiting those runs and trying to flip the momentum to their side, especially at home. Atlanta got away from their balanced scoring in game one. Jeff Teague scored 27 points, but the rest of the usual scorers for Atlanta were pretty silent.
Even though they are only down by one game in the series, this game should be played like game seven for the Hawks. They already lost home court advantage and they can’t afford to lose two straight games at home. If that happened, they would be forced to win two games in Cleveland. Expect the Hawks to make some adjustments and put a little more pressure on Smith. They could run into the issue of LeBron trying to take over the game, but at least they will cut down on the three-pointers by slowing down Smith. Expect the Hawks to bounce back and take game two. We like Atlanta for our NBA picks for today.
Some might say that Golson is taking the easy way out by transferring from Notre Dame. He lost his starting job to Malik Zaire last season, but was given the opportunity this spring and fall to win the job back. Since he decided to leave instead of compete there, some people are criticizing his competitiveness.
That’s one way to look at it, but another way is that Golson had academic troubles at Notre Dame that has marred his career a bit. Sometimes players just need a fresh start, and that’s what Golson is going to get. Fisher and Florida State has dealt with the off-field issues from Jameis Winston the past couple of seasons, so there’s no doubt they will be able to handle any problems that Golson brings with him.
When looking at the decision from an NFL perspective, going to Florida State is probably the best possible destination for Golson. Fisher has sent quarterbacks Christian Ponder and E.J. Manuel to the NFL, and both have started games. Then there’s the most recent number one pick in the NFL Draft, Jameis Winston.
With the Florida State quarterback job wide open, Golson may come in with an edge because of his experience. Fisher’s system isn’t the easiest to learn, but if Golson made the move to increase his NFL prospects, then he will have to figure it out quickly. Expect Fisher to tailor the playbook to Golson’s skills, since he has the potential to be as electrifying as Winston was.
We’ve seen a few quarterbacks use the graduate transfer rule and take full advantage of it. Russell Wilson is the first player that comes to mind. He transferred from North Carolina State to Wisconsin and immediately improved his draft stock. The rest of his young career in the NFL speaks for itself. NFL expert picks
insider reports that the knock on Golson is that he turns the ball over quite a bit. If he is able to clean up his turnovers at Florida State, then he could elevate himself to be a second or third round draft pick, similar to what Wilson did. Our bet is that Golson will see pretty good success at Florida State. We aren’t picking the Seminoles to win the National Championship just because of Golson, but he should be able to lead them to a high ranking at the very least.
The matchup all baseball fans wanted to see in this series was Cy Young candidates Dallas Keuchel and David Price. Keuchel just pitched on Wednesday for Houston, so Detroit is fortunate that they don’t have to face him. Houston, on the other hand, isn’t as fortunate. They have to start their series facing Price.
Price enters the game with a 3-1 record and a 3.40 ERA. He hasn’t done anything to not make him a Cy Young award candidate, but he also hasn’t blown teams away that often this season. His counterpart for Houston will be Scott Feldman, who enters the game with a pedestrian 3-4 record with a 5.06 ERA.
The rest of the Astros starting rotation is up in the air for the rest of this series. Due to injuries, they have had to shift some guys around and even bring up someone from the minors to fill an open spot. The starting pitching for Houston will be something to keep an eye on in this series. Detroit is capable of scoring a lot of runs, so pitching is critical for the Astros.
Houston has gone on streaks where they have scored a lot of runs, but when they struggle, they struggle badly. They don’t have a very high team batting average, but they make up for it by being one of the league leaders in home runs. They also are at the top of the league in strikeouts. Because of their power, they can put up runs in bunches, but they aren’t going to slowly chip away at a lead.
Detroit showed a lot of confidence in their recent series with the Cardinals. They took two out of three games in that series, so they may be the team that can shut down the hot Astros. We are expecting a lot of runs to be scored in this series, especially from the Tigers. Houston may be able to keep up with them in a couple of games, but it’s going to be hard to consistently score 5-7 runs in Detroit. As a result, we are taking the Tigers to win three out of four games for our expert baseball predictions. It wouldn’t surprise us much if the Astros won one or two more games than that, but with the pitching in a state of flux, your safe bet is on the Tigers.
After all the hype and suspense, the Minnesota Timberwolves ended up winning the lottery and earning the number one pick in this June’s NBA Draft. They had the best odds to get the pick, but the team with the best odds hasn’t gotten the top pick since 2004. Having the top overall pick will be huge for a young Minnesota team, who already has last year’s top pick in Andrew Wiggins on their team. They also have the 2013 number one pick in Andrew Bennett.
Even if just two of the three number one picks that Minnesota has becomes something big in the NBA, the Timberwolves will be in good shape. Some of the top talent in the draft includes Karl-Anthony Towns from Kentucky and Jahlil Okafor from Duke. One of those two players are the likely picks for Minnesota with the top pick, even though there’s always a chance that they could trade down to get more picks or a future pick.
The Los Angeles Lakers also got pretty lucky in the lottery. They ended up with the second pick, even though Philadelphia and New York had better odds of getting higher picks than them. They should be able to find a solid talent with the second pick to go along with last year’s lottery pick, Julius Randle.
NBA expert picks insiders report that the biggest loser in the lottery was Philadelphia. They had a chance to end up with the first, sixth and eleventh picks, if things fell their way, because of protected picks in past trades. They just ended up with the third pick, though, which is right where they were supposed to pick after having the third worst record in the league.
The loss was a tough one to take for the Rockets because they know that they can play with Golden State on the road. It may be even tougher because Dwight Howard had to leave the game early due to an injury. He will be getting an MRI, which will determine whether he can play in game two or not. The Rockets arguably played better when Howard wasn’t on the court, but they will definitely miss him if he can’t play or if he isn’t at full strength.
Now the attention is turned to James Harden, who hasn’t shied away from the spotlight at all this season. He tends to elevate his game more when there is adversity, and it may not be any higher than it is right now. Harden had 28 points in game one, but even he knows that it may take more than that in game two.
Coach Steve Kerr made some key adjustments when the Warriors were in an early hole. He went to a smaller lineup, which put Draymond Green guarding Howard. It’s safe to say that that may be the formula to controlling the game against the Rockets. Any time the Warriors were struggling to get things going, he went to that lineup and the slump ended.
Green was phenomenal on offense and defense in ways that won’t even show up on the stats sheet. Stephen Curry was great on both. He ended up with 34 points and five assists and sealed the game with his big free throws at the end. For a team that hasn’t been this deep in the playoffs before, they sure do look like veterans that have at least a couple of championships.
Game one may have proved that if this series comes down to coaching, the Golden State Warriors should have it in the bag. When Kerr made adjustments, Kevin McHale for the Rockets couldn’t counter. Game two will provide McHale an opportunity to make those adjustments when Kerr decides to go with a smaller lineup. The Rockets proved that they can be competitive in Golden State, so it will come down to making adjustments and finishing the game in game two. It’s hard to believe that the Warriors will lose a game at home, though, so we are taking Golden State for our expert NBA picks against the spread for today. This one won’t be as close.
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The Golden State Warriors enter the conference championship game as the odds-on favorite to win the NBA title. They have 4-7 odds to win the championship, according to Vegas sports books. They have been one of the top two or three favorites all season long and now are the clear favorites in the minds of the sports books. They are even heavier favorites to win the Western Conference. Golden State beat Houston all four times they played them this season by an average of more than a dozen points per game. Sports bettors have to like their chance whether they pick the Warriors straight up or against the spread. I know we aren’t betting against the Warriors, especially when they are playing at home.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are the next favored team to win the championship, according to Vegas. The Cavs have 5-2 odds in the sports books to take the NBA crown. They will first have to get past the Atlanta Hawks, who are the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers are slight favorites over the Hawks, despite not having home court advantage. Vegas clearly believes that Cleveland is the superior team over Atlanta and they shouldn’t have any problem getting home court advantage in one of the first two games of the series.
The Atlanta Hawks are the third favorite to win the NBA championship, despite having the best record in the league for most of the season and finishing with the second best record. The Hawks come in with 8-1 odds to win the title, but getting through Cleveland won’t be easy. It doesn’t appear that Kyrie Irving will be able to play at least one game, so Atlanta has to take advantage of their weaknesses. If the Cavaliers are able to steal away home court advantage in one of the first two games, it’s going to be hard for Atlanta to steal it back in Cleveland. But they had the best record in the conference for a reason. They have the ability to advance to the finals and they may be using the disrespect as motivation to get them there.
The Houston Rockets broke their conference finals drought when they made history against the Los Angeles Clippers. They became just the ninth team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a seven game series. As a result, they get to move on to face the Warriors in what should be a high scoring series. The Rockets enter the series as 12-1 favorites to win the NBA Finals. They will have to do something different if they want to make it that far, considering they got dominated in every matchup with the Warriors in the regular season. Houston is the hottest team right now and are playing with a lot of confidence. Golden State can decrease that confidence quickly, though, so they will have to start off hot in game one.
Our analysis is that Vegas has the odds right on. The Warriors are the clear favorites in our opinion. However, we could see the Hawks pulling off the upset of the Cavaliers if Irving isn’t completely healthy. Atlanta has been overlooked for much of the season, and they are still underdogs to this day. If you’re looking to take an underdog in the conference finals, take the Hawks for your expert NBA predictions against the spread. We can’t envision the Rockets beating the Warriors in a seven game series. Cleveland probably would match up better against Golden State in the NBA Finals, and that’s the matchup that we are predicting. If that series happens, we would still pick the Warriors to win it all.
Game one of the series is probably the biggest toss up game of the three-game set. Los Angeles will send Carlos Frias to the mound to make his fourth start of the season. He has been solid in his starts and has a 2.89 ERA in five total appearances. The Dodgers are hoping he can continue to dominate against the Giants, who will send Tim Hudson to the mound. Hudson hasn’t been as consistent as he usually has been in his career, but expect him to elevate his game against the division and in-state rival Dodgers. We like the Giants to take game one.
Speaking of elevating his game when a rival comes to town, game two starter Tim Lincecum for the Giants does exactly that. He enters the series with a 3-2 record and a 2.43 ERA for San Francisco. Brett Anderson will be Lincecum’s counterpart in this game. He has been consistent in his starts. His 3-2 record and 3.50 ERA isn’t too bad, but the main knock on him is that he doesn’t go too deep into games. That may have to change in this one against Lincecum, who is no stranger to pitching in the late innings. Take San Francisco to win game two.
The afternoon game on Thursday is the series finale and the one that everyone is anticipating. Two of the best pitchers in the league will be dueling it out. Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers will take the mound against Madison Bumgarner of the Giants. Kershaw has been known for being the dominant regular season pitcher over the last several seasons, while Bumgarner has made his name in the postseason.
Kershaw enters the game with a 2-2 record and a 4.24 ERA. These are very below average numbers for Kershaw, but we fully expect him to put on his best performance of the season against San Francisco. Bumgarner has a slightly better stat line with his 4-2 record and 3.20 ERA. He has been progressing since his first couple of starts, and the Giants have been winning more as a result. We believe that both pitchers will go deep in this game, but we like the Dodgers to take game three and avoid the sweep. If you’re betting on this series, we like the Giants to win two out of three at home for our expert MLB predictions.
The Cardinals will send Michael Wacha to the mound in game two. He enters the contest with a 5-0 record and a 2.06 ERA for the league-leading Cardinals. Wacha has been considered one of the upcoming faces of the franchise, but that has been expedited since Adam Wainwright went down with a season-ending injury. Wacha hasn’t flinched a bit and has emerged as a Cy Young award candidate early this season.
The Mets will counter with one of their best pitchers as well with Jon Niese. Niese has been a big surprise for the Mets this season as he carries a 2.49 ERA into the game. He hasn’t gotten a lot of run support in his starts, which is why he only has a 3-3 record despite the low ERA. He will be hoping to get a little more support in this game, but it may be wishful thinking with Wacha on the other side.
New York has been largely inconsistent over the past week or so. Their bats haven’t produced as much as they have been and the pitching has been spotty. As a result, they lost five games in a row last week before going on a 14-run outburst against Milwaukee. They will need all the confidence they can get against Wacha and the solid Cardinals bullpen.
The Cardinals may have met their match in the last series against the Tigers. They weren’t able to score a lot of runs to keep up with Detroit’s offense, but they did win the one game that was low scoring. St. Louis is going to win most games that end up being pitchers duels, so that’s what they are hoping will shake out in this matchup.
Playing the game in New York will give the Mets a little more of a chance to win the game. However, their spotty offense is a big cause for concern against one of the best pitchers in the league. Not many teams have been able to rattle Wacha very much, and it’s hard to believe that the Mets will be able to score more than one or two runs off of him. Niese will throw a quality game for the Mets, but the lack of run support will doom him once again. We believe Wacha will go deep into the game and earn his sixth victory for our expert MLB picks for today.
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It’s easy to look on the surface and just say that the Clippers got outplayed by the Rockets for three straight games. But this Clippers franchise has been so close to breaking through for the last few years, but always faltered in the early rounds of the playoffs. This was a different team though.
After getting through the defending champion San Antonio Spurs in the first round, it looked like Los Angeles finally may have turned a corner. They trailed in that series 3-2, so the fans knew the end was near. Instead, they showed guts and determination in winning on the road before closing out the series at home. That momentum continued as they largely dominated Houston for four games.
The mentality of the team just obviously isn’t strong enough to be a legitimate contender yet. There was a sense of overconfidence in game five in Houston, since they only had to win one out of three games. They knew they still had a game to play in Los Angeles, so it wasn’t a big deal. Doc Rivers has won at the highest level, so it’s hard to put the blame on him. However, most of his players have a history of not being able to get the job done.
Ever since he’s been on the Clippers, Blake Griffin has been the flashy player that is always on the highlight reels. He obviously couldn’t get the job done himself, so the organization brought in Chris Paul to help get them over the hump. However, Paul hasn’t been able to advance far in his career either. As the two leaders of the team, it may be that they don’t have what it takes to coexist and lead the Clippers any further than they’ve already been.
New owner Steve Ballmer will have some tough decisions to make in the near future. DeAndre Jordan is a free agent, so he will have to decide whether his productivity is worth keeping. He may also have to make the tough decision of parting ways with either Griffin or Paul. The organization has done almost everything they can to put them in a position to succeed, and they haven’t been able to get the job done. Difficult decisions will be made in the near future, but our expert NBA picks have Paul and Griffin sticking together for one more season. If they don’t advance to at least the conference finals next year, then we could see the quick end to a decent run by the Clippers franchise.