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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Must See Sports - Third Weekend of November 2013

Last week's advantage/disadvantage record, excluding series: 4-3
2013 Advantage/Disadvantage Record, excluding series: 82-68
2013 Advantage/Disadvantage FINAL Record (series only): 22-13-4

Thursday, November 14


Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden State Warriors

This game might be a toss up on paper. It may even favor the Warriors ever so slightly since the game is in Oakland. But when the spotlight is on, and I think this is a "spotlight" regular season game, I can't go against the tandem of OKC forward Kevin Durant (31 PPG, 7 RPG, 5 APG) and guard Russell Westbrook (19 PPG, 5 APG).

Advantage: Thunder

The Thunder's offense goes from "V6" to "V12" with Westbrook healthy and in the lineup. 1

Saturday, November 15 

NCAA Football

#25 Georgia Bulldogs at #7 Auburn Tigers

The Auburn Tigers control their own destiny in the SEC West Division race. That will be ultimately decided in the Iron Bowl against Alabama if they come into that game with no additional SEC losses. To do that, they will need to beat the Georgia Bulldogs at home.

The Tigers have crept somewhat quietly into the top ten. Their formula is old-school. Strong defense...strong running game. Their backfield has an absolute embarrassment of riches, with four running backs who are each capable of carrying the load. The two stand outs are running back Tre Mason (1,038 yds., 16 TD, 5.7 avg.) and quarterback  Nick Marshall (734 yds., 7 TD, 7.1 avg.).

Georgia has had trouble stopping opponents this year, which is why they are on the periphery of the unranked. I don't see that changing against Auburn's stable of horses. Todd Gurley (625 yds., 6 TD, 6.2 avg., missed 3 games) has restored some potency to the Bulldog offense since his return from injury, but I don't think it will be enough against a surging Auburn team with visions of the Sugar Bowl dancing in its head.

Advantage: Auburn

It's been a dog of a year for Georgia. 2

Sunday, November 16


San Francisco 49ers (6-3) at New Orleans Saints (7-2)

Some are billing this as a possible NFC Championship Game preview. I don't see it that way. I think the real preview will be in Seattle on Monday Night Football on December 2nd. The 49ers are too up-and-down in their passing game. Colin Kaepernick's (1,675 yds., 9 TD, 6 INT, 56% comp., 310 rush yds, 5.8 ypc.) return to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the first time since the Niners' Super Bowl XLVII loss in February is not the ideal venue to correct those issues. Say what you will about the circus that is the Dallas Cowboys, but they can put up some points and they really didn't in New Orleans this past Sunday Night.

Advantage: Saints

Brees and the Saints recorded an NFL record 40 first downs against the Cowboys. 3

Kansas City Chiefs (9-0) at Denver Broncos (8-1)

GAME OF THE WEEK. I know I'm wearing the catch phrase out, but there's a reason that "Waitin' all day for Sunday night," is in NBC's Sunday Night Football theme song. The Chiefs have stunned the football world with a 9-0 start after having the worst record in the NFL last year.

Offensive lineman don't record productive statistics, but don't think for a moment that Chiefs right tackle Eric Fisher, the first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, has not made an impact. Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (1,919 yds., 9 TD, 4 INT, 60% comp.) has been in a comfort zone with ample time to throw the ball when needed all year and running back Jamal Charles (725 yds., 6 TD, 4.3 avg.) has been running through holes the size of Texas since Fisher's arrival.

K.C. has yet to face an opponent with a winning record this season. A matchup with arguably the best team in the AFC with arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history in Peyton Manning (3,249 yds., 33 TD, 6 INT, 71% comp.) at Mile High on national television is a heck of a plunge into the deep end of the pool. While Manning is nursing an ankle injury from last week's game against the San Diego Chargers, I don't think a pack of wild broncos could keep him from this game.

Advantage: Broncos

The Broncos have the home field advantage in this AFC West showdown. 4

Monday, November 17


New England Patriots (7-2) at Carolina Panthers (6-3)

The Panthers are not only relevant, they're important. After smothering the 49ers, 10-9, at Candlestick Park last week, the Panthers have shown the rest of the league that they are to be taken seriously. Panthers QB Cam Newton (1,970 yds., 13 TD, 8 INT, 63% comp., 4 rushing TD) gets the headlines, but the #2 ranked defense (behind the Houston Texans) is the real straw that stirs the Panthers' drink, yielding less than 300 yards per game.

The Patriots have the better record and the better quarterback, but they are on the road against a team with a lights-out defense riding a 5 game winning streak. On paper, the only thing not favoring Carolina is the fact that Tom Brady is the opposing quarterback. New England cannot stop the run and the Panthers just got RB Jonathan Stewart back in the lineup to compliment DeAngelo Williams (565 yds., 2 TD, 4.2 avg). The quiet strength of the Pats has been its running game and they're facing a run defense that only gives up 82 yards per game.

Meanwhile the Panthers' quiet strength has come from second year middle linebacker Luke Kuechly (75 tak., 7 TFL, 1.0 sacks, 3 INT). People outside of North Carolina will see him, center stage on Monday night. He is a nightmare for opposing running backs and deceptively athletic for a linebacker, closing passing windows in split-seconds, disrupting the progression reads of opposing quarterbacks, and helping to force turnovers.

In essence, I'm giving the Patriots the "advantage" on Tom Brady's good credit. If New England wins, I expect a low-scoring squeaker. A Panthers win will not make my eyes pop out from shock.

Advantage: Patriots

If you don't know Luke Kuechly, you'd better recognize! 5

Tuesday, November 18

NCAA Basketball

#13 Memphis Tigers at #8 Oklahoma State Cowboys

Memphis foundered late last season and it cost them, being cleaned out by Michigan State in the 3rd round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Senior guard Joe Jackson (14 PPG, 5 APG) and expected "diaper dandy" forward Austin Nichols (6'8", 200 lbs.) will travel west to face Big 12 big boy Oklahoma State.

The Cowboys are one of the few top ten teams that did not undergo any kind of youth movement for the 2013-2014 season. Super guard Marcus Smart (11 PPG, 3 APG, 4 RPG) returned to OSU for a sophomore season to the delight of the Stillwater faithful. The tandem of he and junior forward Le'Bryan Nash, (21 PPG, 10 RPG) have raised expectations. Barring injuries, anything less than a Sweet 16 appearance would be a woeful underachievement.

OSU already has a couple of warm up games under its belt. That, and playing at Gallagher-Iba arena should tip the scales in the Cowboys' favor.

Advantage: Oklahoma State

I expect Marcus Smart's return for his sophomore season to be a win-win for himself and the university. 6

Wednesday, November 18


Houston Rockets at Dallas Mavericks

The Battle of Texas actually means something in the NBA, unlike the NFL and MLB. The acquisition of center Dwight Howard (18 PPG, 15 RPG, 2 BlkPG) has made the Rockets the #1 contender to unseat the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA's Southwest Division. The Mavericks are off to a solid start after a disappointing 2013 season with the addition of star point guard Monta Ellis (23 PPG, 5 APG) from the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Rockets have some issues scoring in the paint late in the game, but I expect them to be up for this game. I think Houston has more talent and has the edge going on the road to play the Mavs.

Advantage: Rockets

Dwight Howard is averaging 15 rebounds per game so far this season, sick, even by his high standards. 7

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