Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday February 3rd

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday February 3rd

Sean Murphy

Most passing yards

Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens) vs. Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco 49ers)

I expect both quarterbacks to have plenty of success on Sunday, but I can't resist playing Kaepernick with a considerable yardage cushion. The 49ers receivers match up well against the Ravens secondary, and I don't think we'll see Kaepernick hesitate to throw it deep when given the opportunity.

We haven't seen a lot of that from the rookie, but I expect the Ravens to do a nice job of limiting Kaepernick's mobility in this game and as a result, forcing him to take to the air a little more often than usual. Joe Flacco is well-positioned to turn in another stellar effort but his lack of consistency worries me in terms of this prop.

Take: Kaepernick +17.5 yards (-110)


Most rushing yards

Ray Rice (Baltimore Ravens) vs. Frank Gore (San Francisco 49ers)

Ray Rice is still the Ravens’ go-to guy out of the backfield, but Bernard Pierce has certainly cut into his workload and I think we'll see more of that Sunday. The 49ers are obviously tough up front and I'm not sure that Rice's physical, north-south running will lead to a big day on the ground. Don't be surprised if Rice is more of a factor in the Ravens’ short passing game.

Colin Kaepernick is getting all of the press, but Frank Gore is still the engine that makes the 49ers offense go. With much of the Ravens’ defensive game-planning geared toward stopping Kaepernick, Gore will find plenty of room to run. He might not see the end zone, with LaMichael James delivering consistently from 15 yards in, but he'll outrun Ray Rice by a considerable margin.

Take: Gore -17.5 yards (-110)


Most pass receptions

Anquan Boldin (Baltimore Ravens) vs. Michael Crabtree (San Francisco 49ers)

The re-emergence of Anquan Boldin has been an overlooked factor in the Ravens’ run to the Super Bowl. Joe Flacco is more comfortable throwing to Boldin than anyone else right now and in a game of this magnitude, it's the veterans that often shine.

Michael Crabtree has really come out of his shell over the last couple of months. No 49ers receiver has benefited more from the change at quarterback. With that comes more attention from the opposition, and I won't be surprised if the Ravens send double-coverage Crabtree's way on numerous occasions.

Take: Boldin (+105)


Total combined field goals made

The hook could come in to play, so make sure you can find a 3.5.

The Ravens have a lot of faith in Justin Tucker, but the 49ers are at the opposite end of the spectrum with David Akers.

I simply feel that the two offenses are operating at a peak level right now and we won't see a lot of stalled drives in enemy territory. Let's call for two from Tucker and one from Akers.

Take: Under 3.5 (-160)

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday February 3rd

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Joe Flacco Longest CompletionFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Recommendation: Over 40.5FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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If the Baltimore Ravens are going to win this game, they will need to do it by exploiting San Francisco’s secondary.  That means Joe Flacco will need to make some big plays down field.  Flacco has shown a deft touch downfield throughout the season.  This postseason, we’ve already seen him toss passes of 47, 50, 59 and 70 yards. And in 19 total games this season, Flacco has hit for 40 or more yards 16 times.  The 49ers have surrendered at least one 40+ yard pass in five straight games dating back to the regular season. Look for a sixth here on Sunday.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday February 3rd

Prop Picks - 49ers
By CarbonSports

Super Bowl Props: San Francisco Edition

Today I’m looking at the various props offered regarding the 49ers performance in the big game on Sunday. Like yesterday’s piece on Baltimore, there are some good numbers out there with the 49ers player props.
Here are a couple that have got my attention.

Aldon Smith – Total solo + assisted tackles (sacks don’t count): Over 3.5 (-150) vs. Under 3.5 (+120)

After all the accolades Smith got during the season when he was on pace to break the single-season sack record, he seems to have disappeared in the playoffs. In the two playoff games Smith has a grand total of 3 tackles and 0 sacks. Green Bay and Atlanta found ways to neutralize his pass-rushing ability and with Justin Smith nowhere near 100%, offensive lines can key on Smith and take him out of the game.
   
Baltimore should be able to accomplish this as well as any help they do bring against San Francisco’s defense ends will clearly be on Aldon’s side. Even if he does break free for a sack or two they won’t count towards this bet so you’ve really got to hope he catches Ray Rice running or on screen passes an awful lot.
I just don’t see it happening. If you take away his sacks, he only got to 4 or more tackles five times this season. Even then, most of those games he finished with only 4, so it’s not like he is a dominating force if you take away his pass-rushing ability.

Take the +120 on the under.

Colin Kaepernick – Total completions: Over 17.5 (+100) vs. Under 17.5 (-120)

Kaepernick has been the talk of the 49ers ever since he became the starter and it has been his playmaking ability that got San Francisco to this point. But he is still refining his passing game and that only comes with time.

Since he became the full-time starter he has only topped 17.5 completions three times. One of those was their Week 16 (42-13) blowout loss in Seattle when San Fran got behind early on and had to basically abandon their running game. Kaepernick attempted 36 passes that day (his most all season) and completed 19 of them.

Another one of those games was the 16-13 OT loss to the Rams where he went 21-for-32 passing. Kaepernick had still gone over 17.5 without the extra frame – he completed 3 passes in OT – but it was still right on the number with 18. Defensively, the Rams are quite similar to Baltimore in terms of bringing pressure and being physical with wide receivers making getting over this number tough.

Even in this stadium against the sieve-like New Orleans pass defense, Kaepernick only went 16-25 passing in the 31-21 win. In the playoffs he has finished with 17 and 16 completions respectively, but Green Bay and Atlanta’s defenses aren’t quite on the level that this Baltimore team is.

Take under 17.5

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THE GOLD SHEET

BALTIMORE (13-6) vs. SAN FRANCISCO (13-4-1)

A LOOK AT SAN FRANCISCO

The 49ers and Super Bowls have made quite a combination in the past. While frustrated at the last hurdle in NFC title games vs. Dallas in the first two postmerger years of 1970 & ‘71, San Francisco would eventually make amends...and then some. The arrival of HC Bill Walsh in 1979 began to re-energize the franchise, which embarked upon a decade of dominance in the ‘80s, winning four Super Bowls with QB Joe Montana in nine seasons between 1981-89, and another in 1994 with Steve Young as the offensive pilot. (Walsh retired as coach after the ‘88 Super Bowl win over the Bengals, with George Seifert presiding over the title winners of ‘89 and ‘94.) The 49ers have the NFL’s best win percentage in Super Bowls (5-0!), although they haven’t been to one in eighteen years (SB XXIX), when they romped past the Chargers 49-26 in Miami.

The current resurrection of the 49ers under second-year HC Jim Harbaugh has been almost as dramatic as the Walsh renaissance three decades earlier. The 49ers hadn’t even been to the playoffs since 2002 until Harbaugh arrived in 2011 from a wildly-successful stint at Stanford. Inheriting a playoff-quality defense, Harbaugh hardly skipped a beat from his successful teams on The Farm, able to overcome offensive limitations by employing a similar, Stanford-like, powerbased ground game based around RB Frank Gore’s thrusts to complement that robust “D” and win the NFC West a year ago while advancing to within a whisker of the Super Bowl, when a couple of late punt-return fumbles proved costly in a bitter OT loss to the Giants in the NFC title game at Candlestick Park.

San Francisco was proceeding in a similar manner this season when Harbaugh made the bold move of switching QBs in mid-November, benching previous starter Alex Smith for 2nd-year ex-Nevada “Pistol” operator Colin Kaepernick, whom Harbaugh believed possessed the potential playmaking ability and upside that would give the 49ers their best shot at reaching the “Supe” in New Orleans. Kaepernick immediately rewarded Harbaugh’s faith with a nearflawless effort in a late-November 32-7 romp past the Bears and has been mostly on the mark since (sometimes breathtakingly so) while winning 7 of 9 starts.

Along the way Kaepernick has won games over teams featuring established QB stars such as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Matt Ryan, lending a legit homerun dimension to the formerly staid 49er offense. Kaepernick, who passed for better than 2000 yards and rushed for more than 1000 yards in each of his last three seasons at Nevada, is a unique dual-threat who destroyed Green Bay in the Division Round with an NFL playoff rushing record for a QB (181 yards) while detonating a 579-yard offensive explosion vs. the Pack, before mostly using his arm to lead a comeback win at Atlanta in the NFC title game when Falcon d.c. Mike Nolan committed resources to prevent Kaepernick from escaping along the edge.

Along the way, Kaepernick has developed a better rapport with WR Michael Crabtree (a dangerous 35 catches in the last five games) than did Alex Smith, while also re-establishing a connection with TE Vernon Davis just in time during the NFC title game when Davis caught an important 5 passes and a key TD. Kaepernick’s electric arm and legs, in conjunction with perhaps the NFL’s mostathletic OL, plus RBs Gore (1214 YR TY) and recently-emerging Oregon rookie lightning bolt LaMichael James (scored first career TD in Atlanta playoff win), lead an infantry assault that gained a whopping 5.1 ypc, all combining to give SF a more-menacing offensive look than a year ago.

This new-found sharp-edged attack has temporarily taken some of the spotlight away from a “D” that again ranked among the NFL’s best (NFC tops in fewest yards allowed at 294 ypg and behind only Seattle in points at 17.1 ppg) and remains loaded with playmakers, including an All-Pro collection of LBs led by NFC sack leader Aldon Smith (19½ sacks). But the platoon has leaked a bit in the postseason, allowing 414.5 yards and 27.5 points pg, while Aldon Smith is now without a sack in five straight games. The 49ers have also advanced despite a choppy campaign from usually-reliable PK David Akers, who has missed an uncharacteristic 14 of 44 FG tries (including playoffs).

A LOOK AT BALTIMORE

The story of the 2012 Ravens for the Super Bowl is much more the story of their recent games than it is of their entire season. Remember, top 2011 pass rusher OLB Terrell Suggs (14 sacks LY) suffered a torn Achilles in April. Then, ILB Ray Lewis (torn biceps) and top CB Lardarius Webb (ACL) went down in the sixth game. With some of its key members injured, the once-gnarly Baltimore defense ended up a middle-of-the-pack 17th in yards allowed this season and 13th in points allowed.

But through the adversity, the Ravens hung tough. With Ray Lewis out, Suggs returned earlier than expected, albeit at less than 100%. Even when the "O" was struggling on the road, Baltimore never gave up, exemplified by its against-theodds, fourth-and-29 conversion on the famous Ray Rice reception in San Diego on Nov. 25 to set up a last-chance tying FG vs. the Chargers and a 16-13 victory in overtime. With the offense laboring and the team smarting from two straight late-season losses, HC John Harbaugh fired 4½-year o.c.Cam Cameron, who had guided QB Joe Flacco from rookie starter to an unprecedented four playoff appearances (5-4 SU) in his first four years. (Including 2012, Flacco is now an impressive 8-4 overall in the playoffs, including a record six victories as a visitor.) Cameron’s replacement is former Indy QB assistant and later HC Jim Caldwell, who had never been a playcaller. But even the ousted Cameron says Harbaugh’s decision to make the change was a good move, getting the players’ attention and improving the attack’s consistency. The Ravens lost their first Caldwell game (34-17 to Denver). Since then, Baltimore has scored 31 ppg (excluding the finale in Cincy, where starters played only sparingly) in four games—all wins, three in the playoffs—with Flacco throwing 10 TDs without an interception. Baltimore insiders say that Caldwell, after a decade of working with Peyton Manning at Indy, has developed increasing rapport with the strong-armed Flacco, who has since helped crush the desperate Giants in the first half of Game 15, dominate the Colts in the Ravens’ first playoff game, repeatedly overcome the Broncos in frigid Denver in the Divisional Round, and then finish off the defending AFC champ Patriots two weeks ago.

With 8 TDs and 0 ints. in the 2012 playoffs, Flacco has been able to exploit what many believe is one of the more underrated receiving corps in the league rugged possession WR Anquan Boldin (65 recs.), second-year deep threat Torrey Smith (8 TDC), erratic but explosive WR/KR Jacoby Jones (the 70-yard last-minute strike vs. the Broncos), clutch TE Dennis Pitta (7 TDs in regular season; 2 more in playoffs) and TE mate Ed Dickson, plus RB Ray Rice and bruising FB Vontae Leach.

Harbaugh/Caldwell have made two other moves to boost the offense in the playoffs. Benched tackle Bryant McKinnie (told to get in shape and practice better) has earned his way back into the starting lineup at LT, allowing standout run blocker Michael Oher to move from LT back to his natural RT. That has bumped promising 335-pound rookie Kelechi Osemele of Iowa State from RT inside to LG, where he is paired with Pro Bowl RG Marshal Yanda. The result has been 149 ypg rushing and only four sacks in three playoff games.

Moreover, Caldwell has given more carries to developing rookie RB Bernard Pierce, who has rushed for 65 ypc in the last seven, helping to keep star RB Rice (1143 YR in regular season) fresh and offering a slightly more powerful punch than Rice when needed.

Meanwhile, the defense has received a boost from the return of vocal leader Ray Lewis, who has collected 25 tackles and 19 assists in the three playoff games despite playing with a brace on his right arm. Just as important, however, have been his 17 years of experience, which will be extremely important in keeping the 49ers’ elusive Colin Kaepernick corralled. With Lewis in the middle and with wily safety Ed Reed positioning the DBs, the Baltimore defense has allowed only four TDs in three playoff games vs. Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady (Raven coverage teams have allowed two others).

Perhaps the greatest concerns for the Ravens are their less-effective pass rush this season (without a full-speed Suggs to lead the charge, LB Paul Kruger paced the team with 9 sacks) and the erratic play at CB and nickel-back (coaches were still pulling young CBs after some mistakes in the playoffs, providing immediate coaching input). Despite the poor STs coverage in Denver, Baltimore possesses its own lightning bolt returner in Jacoby Jones, who already has 4 PR TDs and 3 KR TDs in his career. Rookie FA kicker Justin Tucker has been a big Raven plus, converting 32 of 35 FG chances TY, including 2 of 2 in the playoffs.

There is often a knee-jerk reaction among handicappers to be swayed by the pointspread in championship-level games. That’s because underdog teams in such matchups are usually of high quality; we’re not talking about regular-reason also-rans like the Browns and Jaguars getting points from the oddsmakers. No, title-game participants are always formidable, and there is always something intoxicating about getting additional points with a team good enough to play for all of the marbles.

Perhaps that dynamic has something to do with why we’ve been inclined to back the title-game underdogs as well, especially in recent Super Bowls when we often thought the team that was going to win the game was also the one getting the points from the oddsmakers. We were all in with the underdog Giants, both last season and five years ago, because we thought they had a real shot on each occasion to beat the Patriots. Never mind the pointspread. Just as we liked the underdog Saints to beat the Colts three years ago. Similarly, we backed underdogs such as the Cardinals against the Steelers in Tampa and Steelers against the Packers at Arlington in other recent Super Bowls, each time because we really thought the “short” was going to win. Besides, playing the dogs in recent Super Bowls has also been pretty good business, as they have covered 8 of the last 11.

But, as in the recent BCS title game between Alabama and Notre Dame, when we backed the favored Crimson Tide, our gut instinct tells us the price is quite fair in Super Bowl XLVII. And we are going to resist that natural temptation to back the quality underdog (in this case Baltimore), mostly because we at TGS are in unanimous agreement that San Francisco will win this game.

We’re not going to waste much space by expounding upon the Ravens’ flaws. Which have been a lot harder to identify in the postseason, one in which QB Joe Flacco has been almost error-free (with no picks) and the defense, finally healthy and with emotional leader Ray Lewis back in the fold after an extended absence, has begun to resemble its former dominant self. We also tip our hat to HC John Harbaugh for rallying the troops in mid-December when the season seemed to be unraveling after a three-game losing streak and unorthodox dismissal of o.c. Cam Cameron following a December 9 OT defeat at Washington. Sources say Cameron was grinding with Flacco and creating an unwanted tension that Harbaugh suspected was undermining the entire operation. That bold move by the Baltimore version of Harbaugh has been rewarded.

But in the bold move category, we suspect the one made by John’s brother Jim in San Francisco when benching QB Alex Smith in mid-November in favor of 2nd-year Colin Kaepernick will end up being more impactful on Sunday. Kaepernick has not only been near flawless in his nine subsequent starts, but he has added a unique dimension to the 49er attack with not only his ability to run, but also his laser-like arm that has put WR Michael Crabtree into play as a dangerous downfield threat. Kaepernick has also been mostly unflappable, shaking off an early pick-6 in the Division Round vs. Green Bay to subsequently dominate the Pack, and then demonstrate further resilience when displaying uncommon cool in the NFC title game in leading the 49ers back from a 0-17 deficit at the noisy Georgia Dome vs. Atlanta. In addition, Kaepernick flashed plenty of moxie in a late-season game at New England when answering a late Tom Brady rally by confidently leading a late TD drive to put the 49ers back in control. Not your normal NFL QB with only 9 starts.

Moreover, Kaepernick has been at his best vs. the best, tossing 4 TD passes in that win over the Patriots, leading a 579-yard assault (inclduing his own 181 YR) vs. Green Bay, and finding a different way to beat Atlanta in the NFC title game when the Falcons committed resources to controlling Kaepernick’s dashes on the flanks. His presence also provides a much different look to the 49ers than the Alex Smith “O” that could not stretch the field and lost at Baltimore by a 16-6 count in a Thanksgiving 2011 game. Most of the dynamics from that matchup fourteen months ago no longer exist, mainly because of Kaepernick.

While formidable, Baltimore’s “D” has also been facing the equivalent of traffic cones at QB (Peyton Manning and Brady) in its last two palyofff games, and in fact had to deal with only one truly mobile signal-caller all season (the Redskins’ RG III, who improvised with some success in an early December Washington win before being KO’d in the 2nd half). Containing Kaepernick presents a daunting challenge; indeed, as the Falcons discovered, it’s pick your poison against the new-look 49er offense. Though rugged, does the Raven stop unit possess the foot speed to deal with Kaepernick?

Credit Flacco and the Raven strike force for answering the challenge in the postseason. But just a little bit of smarts by the Denver DBs (that’s mainly you, Rahim Moore) would have prevented Baltimore, operating without any timeouts, from that miracle 70-yard TD pass to tie the Division Round game in the last 30 seconds and instead sent the Ravens home on January 12. We suspect Flacco, no Fred Astaire he in the pocket, will be facing plenty of pressure from the aggressive 49er front seven. San Francisco’s 2ndary can play tight coverage and attack Flacco’s receiving targets because Aldon Smith and NaVorro Bowman are going to pressure Flacco, who could in turn be forcing his throws. And the 49er “D” (allowing only 3.7 ypc) will limit the damage Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce can inflict on the ground.

In conclusion, of the many riveting storylines in this matchup, we expect the most compelling of all will be the emergence of Kaepernick, whose unique dimension is something Baltimore is not likely to be able to match.

SCOREFORECAST

SAN FRANCISCO 33 - Baltimore 20

SUPER BOWL “TOTALS” PICK

The perfect conditions indoors and the artificial turf at the Superdome make one think first about the “over” despite the solid defenses of these two teams. And our preceding writeups on the teams emphasize how both of the talented starting QBs are still on the ascent and excelling in the playoffs.

Moreover, have the NFL’s rules and “points of emphasis” for game officials ever been more friendly to the offenses? Let’s also note how San Francisco has gone “over” in 9 of 10 Colin Kaepernick games (including the 24-24 tie vs. the Rams, when Kaepernick took over for the injured Alex Smith in the second quarter).

History shows that 13 of the last 19 Super Bowls with an over/under line of less than 50 have gone "over" the postal total.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday February 3rd

AlatexFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Michael Crabtree Total ReceptionsFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Over 6FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Instead of using the entire 16-game season to analyze the San Francisco 49ers box scores for making our prop bets, we really only need about half the season. This is due to the change at quarterback, with Colin Kaepernick taking over for Alex Smith midseason. As a result, looking at games with Smith as the starting quarterback is useless, and there is a much smaller sample size than usual to base our wagers. One thing that really stands out in the games with Kaepernick under center is how much he targets his top receiver, Michael Crabtree. Crabtree has caught six or more passes in six of the last seven games, and will no doubt be targeted heavily on Sunday. The game plan shouldn’t change that much, and the number and price here offers us plenty of value that he will hang on to the majority of balls thrown his way.
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Total Sacks by Both TeamsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Under 4.5FOR REE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Neither one of these quarterbacks has been sacked much lately, and the pass rush for both teams has not been great as well. Colin Kaepernick has obviously shown that he is not afraid to tuck the ball and run, and he is also not given the opportunity to stand in the pocket and go through a long progression of receivers. Most of San Francisco’s pass plays are read and throw, or read and run, and as a result, Kaepernick has been sacked exactly one time in each of his last five games. Joe Flacco is also making quick decisions in the pocket and getting good protection from his offensive line. He has been sacked just four times in his last four games, not counting the throw away game against Cincinnati in the season finale when he barely played. With both teams placing an emphasis on running the ball, there should be fewer opportunities for the quarterbacks to be sacked. I see lots of value with under 4.5.

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SPORTS WAGERSFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Baltimore +3½ over San FranciscoFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The 49ers deserve to be here. They were a couple of gaffes away from making this trip last year and despite an agonizing loss to the eventual champion Giants, they got right back on their horse and maintained a high level of play throughout the 2012 season. San Francisco is one of the most balanced teams in the league.
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Offensively, they have a strong runner in Frank Gore, an explosive tight end in Vernon Davis and a dangerous receiver in Michael Crabtree. The Niners defence features one of the strongest linebacking corps in the NFL as Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman all were voted to this year’s Pro Bowl. While each brings a different skill set, Smith is a pass rushing maniac with 33.5 sacks in two years, the most by any NFL player in his first two seasons. Despite a plethora of talent, the team appeared to be stuck in a gear. That all changed midway through the season when starting QB Alex Smith was hurt and 2nd year QB Colin Kaepernick was called to duty. A much needed spark at the all-important position, Kaepernick displayed the ability to pass the ball with authority while possessing a deceptively fast pair of legs. Some say that Coach Jim Harbaugh made an ingenious decision to stick with the sophomore quarterback but in reality, any other decision would have been downright dumb. It was evident to teammates and fans alike that Kaepernick could very likely be the catalyst needed to get the 49ers to the Promised Land. While all of it makes for a great story, we’re not so sure this tale will have a happy ending.
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The Ravens were an unlikely group to get here. They started the season well but in sports, it’s how you finish that usually counts. Baltimore limped into these playoffs with four losses in their final five regular season games. Somehow though, and we’ve seen it before, they caught lightning in a bottle. They disposed of the inexperienced Colts before heading toDenver and New England in consecutive weeks to knock off both AFC favoured clubs. That feat alone has us wondering why the Ravens should be the underdog in this game. For some reason, the 49ers are perceived to have the better defence. We’re not sure where that is coming from.Baltimore held Indianapolis to nine points. More impressively, they held the highest scoring team in the league to 13 points while keeping the Patriots scoreless in the 2nd half. Besides, our eyes don’t lie. We’ve seen San Francisco give up tons of yardage to capable passing teams. In these playoffs alone, the Niners have allowed an alarming 414.5 yards per game while relinquishing an average of 27.5 points per contest. In San Fran’s four losses and a tie during the regular season, the 49ers appeared susceptible to the deep pass. Opponents in those five games, which included the Vikings, Seahawks Giants and Rams twice, completed 50% of throws that traveled more than 15 yards
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That brings us to the quarterbacks. A neutral field and we have Joe Flacco taking points against Colin Kaepernick. Huh? While Kaepernick has been impressive at times, he’s also displayed some immaturity in his game. Who can blame him? This will be the young pivot’s 10th game as a starter. It will be Joe Flacco’s 13th playoff start. The Baltimore QB will try to improve on his current 8-4 mark in the playoffs. Those eight post-season victories over five seasons make him one of only five quarterbacks in history to accomplish the same. Flacco’s six road playoff wins are the most by a quarterback in NFL history. Now, Mr. Flacco is being asked to outplay this young buck after outshining two of the greatest QB’s in history after defeating Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Not only did Flacco outplay that dynamic duo, he did so in less than ideal conditions as it was bitterly cold in Denver and slightly less unpleasant at Foxboro. If you think it’s a fluke, it’s not. Flacco has thrown 156 straight passes without an interception, including 93 in the playoffs. Over that span, he’s thrown10 touchdown passes and ran for another. In his past six playoff games, the 28-year old QB has a touchdown to interception ratio of 15-2. Getting back to the deep ball, Flacco has attempted 116 deep passes this year (20+ yards in the air) resulting in 15 touchdowns and zero interceptions. This not so ordinary Joe may be licking his chops thinking about facing San Francisco’s suspect secondary.
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Of course, coaching plays a part in all of this. As we all know, the head coaches of these two teams are brothers. Other than human interest, that fact has no bearing. Jim Harbaugh has definitely made a difference in San Franciscobut he’s the 2nd best NFL head coach in the family. John Harbaugh knows how to prepare his team. He’s very good at making adjustments. He’s not the cheerleading type like his kid brother. And he’s a skilled planner as evidenced by a 6-0 winning mark off a week’s rest. It should be noted that these two squared off on Thanksgiving Day last season with John’s Ravens triumphing over the Niners by a 16-6 count. Most notable about that win is the senior Harbaugh’s 30-12 lifetime mark against teams he defeated in a previous encounter. It also marked Jim Harbaugh’s only loss against the AFC in eight attempts.
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As mentioned, the 49ers are worthy of their entry to this game. But so are the Ravens as they too were just a dropped pass away from a Super Bowl appearance last year. Like a well trained racehorse, Baltimore seems to be peaking at the right time (see: last year’s Giants). When a game has the feel of a close one like this one does, it only makes sense to accept any points being offered. When you add in Baltimore’s superior experience, talent at the skill positions and coaching advantage, the value play screams Ravens. We’re listening, loud and clear.

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Tired of losing, grasping at straws, desperate for a change...whatever it was, over the last week Kobe Bryant has transformed from gunner to facilitator. How long this lasts, no one knows. But what we do know is Kobe started passing and the Lakers started winning. They’ve won three of their last four (heading into Friday) and could of made it four straight had Dwight Howard not re-injured his shoulder during Wednesday's game at Phoenix. In those four games, Kobe attempted 51 shots (12.8 per game) and dished out 48 assists. In LA's previous four games to that (all losses), Kobe jacked up 102 shots (25.5 per game). On Sunday, the Lakers play at Detroit, one of the slower paced teams in the league. With a total of 47 and a line of -4, San Francisco is projected to score around 25 points which is close to where I made my numbers. So long as new Kobe doesn't morph back into old Kobe, this one cashes.

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Total Number of Touchdowns in the game. Over 5.5 (Even)  Under 5.5 (-120)
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I like the Under 5.5 in this one. Giving away my play for tomorrow I do like a low scoring game and I just don't expect 6 TD's to be scored in this one. Baltimore is 2nd in the league in allowing TD's in the redzone (42.8%), while San Fran comes in allowing just 37.5% TD's in their last 3 games. Both teams may move the ball between the 20's but both teams will bog down in the redzone and have to settle for more FG's than TD's.
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Neither Team will put up 3 unanswered scores (+120)
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This has the feeling of a low scoring defensive battle. Both teams can move the ball between the 20's on these teams and it should at least set up some FG tries. I don't expect allow of scoring from either team, s I really don't see either team putting up 3 scores in a row n the other.
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Will both teams make a 33 yard or longer field goal   Yes (+110) 
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As i have stated above i do expect some FG's in this one and I can clearly see both teams hitting a FG of at least 33 yards. 22 of Justin Tucker's 30 FG's this year have been longer than 32 yards and he has hit 91.4% of his Field Goal attempts on the year, plus he has hit a 33+ yard FG in 14 games this year. David Akers has struggled this year overall, but still 20 of his 29 FG's have been beyond 30 yards and he has hit a 33+ yard FG in 13 games this year. 
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Total Punts in the game. Over 9.5 (Even)  Under 9.5 (-130)
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This will and should be a defensive battle and i don't see these coaches taking to many chances. Both teams have been playing solid defense this year and if it comes down to going for it on 4th an one at the 50 you can bet that both teams will look to pin their opponent deep with a punt. The first quarter should be a feeling out process and you may get 4 or 5 of hes punts in that quarter alone. Should be a conservative game with at least 11 punts in the game.
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Colin Kaepernick - Total Passing Yards- Under 238.5
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Colin has thrown for 244+ yards in 3 of his last 4 games, but the Niners are just 23rd in passing (206.8 ypg) and Colin has thrown for just 222 ypg in his starts. Baltimore is not bad vs the pass allowing 228 ypg. I also do expect this to be more of a run oriented game and that should keep his passing stats down as well. I expect him to throw for under 220 yards. 
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Colin Kaepernick will NOT break the Quarterback Super Bowl rushing record of 64 yards  (-160)
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I feel that the Ravens will come up with a game plan to keep the 49ers QB under wraps. The Packers didn't and he ran for 181 yards vs them.  A big thing for the Ravens is to stop the read option cause Colin averages just 3.3 ypc on all other carries this year. Let's also note that Baltimore is 8th in the leage in yards per attempt allowed (4.0). Baltimore should keep him under wraps and under 55 yards at least. 
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Total Field Goals made by David Akers - Over 1.5 (-130)
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I really do see a few FG's being kicked in this one and I expect that Akers will get at least 2 of them. I know he has struggled this year as he has hit just 69% of his, but he also hit at least 2 FG's in each of his last 5 games of the regular season and should get a chance of doing so here as well. It's true he has just 2 total attempts in the the playoffs, but the Niners were also down early in those games and he didn't have many chances for FG's as both games turned into shootouts. That wont happen here. this will be a close game and FG's will b important. I say he gets at least 2.
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Total Receptions - Randy Moss - Over 2.5 Receptions
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Randy will need to be involved in this one for the Niners to win the game. he did have 3 receptions in 3 of his last 6 games and a couple of dropped passes kept him from having more over that stretch. I expect him to be thown to at least 5 or 6 time with at lest 4 catches.
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What will happen first for San Francisco -- Touchdown or Punt? --- Punt -140
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The first quarter should be a real feeling out process for both teams and that has me expecting a punt from San Fran before they score a touchdown. The Niners have also gotten off to slow starts in the post season and I expect them to do so here as well. 
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What will happen first for Baltimore -- Touchdown or Punt? -- (Punt -165)
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Just like I said in my Niners prop article I expect both teams to be a bit conservative in the first quarter. This usually happens in big games with two solid defenses on the field. The Niners defense is one of the best in the league and should make Baltimore punt before they get a touchdown. 
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Ravens Total Rushing Yards - Under 104
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Baltimore will attempt to utilize the running game, but how effective can they be? The Ravens are 11th in rushing the ball, putting up 118.8 ypg, but this Niners defense checks in at 4th vs the run, allowing just 94.2 ypg. San Fran is also 4th in the league in ypa allowed at 3.8. Will be tough for Baltimore to get 100+ yards on the ground in this game.
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Joe Flacco Touchdown Passes - Under 1.5 (Even)
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This game will be all about defense and I just don't see Flacco being able to notch 2 TD passes in this one. The Niners pass defense is 4th in the league and they are 10th in the league in pass touchdowns allowed per game (1.3). Im also expecting a few more FG's than TD's from Baltimore as this should be more of a defensive battle. Look for him to get POSSIBLY one TD pass.
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Bernard Pierce - Total Rushing Attempts - Over 7 (-165)
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Ray Rice is the featured back for the Ravens, but Bernard is also an important part of their offense. The Ravens have use him allot more down the stretch as had 8 or more attempts in 7 of their last 9 games, while also averaging 12.6 rushing attempts per game in their last 5 games. The Ravens will need to mix it up between Rice and Pierce and that gives him an excellent shot at 8+ attempts in this game.
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Justin Tucker - Total Field Goals Made - Over 1.5 (-130)
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Justin Tucker has hit 90% of his FG attempts this year and I see him having at least 3 shots at a FG in this one. The Niners have been solid in the red zone this year and I feel that Baltimore will heve to settle for at least 2 FG's in that zone. I look for him to possibly have 3 FG's in this one.

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Jimmy BoydFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Ravens / 49ers Over 47½FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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San Francisco has gone from one of the best defensive teams in the league to looking awfully susceptible the last part of the year. This team gave up 34 to New England, 42 to Seattle, 31 to Green Bay, and 24 to Atlanta in their last four games against playoff caliber teams so it's no surprise they have now gone OVER the total in six straight games. This team is still winning games since Kaepernick has breathed fresh air into the offense, allowing them to move the ball both through the air and on the ground.
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Baltimore is in the same boat. Flacco has thrown for 235+ in each of the playoff games and the Ravens have scored 24+ in all three. Their defense isn't quite as good as their reputation. New England had plenty of chances to score against them two weeks ago and just couldn't convert.
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Both of these teams are under-rated offensively and over-rated defensively right now, so I'm taking the OVER.

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Manhattan -8½FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Manhattan has won and covered the last 3 times as a home favorite from 6.5 to -9. They are 4-0 ats with 1 or less day of rest and will face a St. Peters team that is 1-5 ats vs teams who average 65 or less points and 0-5 to the spread vs teams that are .500 or less. They play this one with home loss revenge. However they have not fared well of late in that role going 0-4 straight up and ats. They have also failed to cover 8 of 10 in conference games. So we will lay the points with Manhattan. On Sunday its the 6* Super Bowl Play with a Big Analysis that's over 2 pages long and contains cutting edge material you wont find anywhere else. There are 24 indicators 3 are 22-1,12-0 and 40-6 Power systems. NFL Top plays have cashed 20 of 26 including both Championship games and we nailed the 6* last season on The Giants. NBA top plays keep rolling with an easy winner on Minnesota.

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Sean Higgs

MVP
Frank Gore 7-1
Ray Rice 12-1
1st TD Scored Bernard Pierce 28-1
Tackles and Assists for Suggs OVER 4.5 -135
Total Rushing Yards Ray Rice OVER 67.5 -125
Will Ray Rice Score a TD - YES -110
Will Bernard Pierce Score a TD - YES +400
Will Ed Reed Intercept a pass - YES + 275
Kaepernick throws 2 Interceptions +450
LeMichael James OVER 27.5 yards rushing -135
More rushing yards in the game Ray Rice +12.5 -110
Historical Matchup. Ray Rice + 32.5 yards -110 will have more than Jamaal Anderson 102
Will either team convert a 4th down conversion - YES -250

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DAVID BANKS

Ravens / 49ers Under 48

Well, the big day has arrived as after two weeks of Harbaugh this and Harbaugh that, it is finally time for Super Bowl XLVII between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans Sunday at 6:30 ET on CBS. Fans may get the tight Super Bowl that they always crave, but it may not be as high scoring as some would like, and besides the two defenses, this game will probably be decided by who runs the ball better.

San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick has made the third fewest starts of any quarterback to ever start a Super Bowl, but he has performed like a grizzled veteran so far in the post-season, especially while leading the 49ers back from a 17-0 deficit on the road vs. the Falcons in the NFC Championship Game. Kaepernick actually won that game from the pocket with effective passing downfield after spending most of his time out of the pocket while setting an NFL single-game rushing record for a quarterback vs. the Green Bay Packers the previous week. Do not expect him to have the same passing success he had two weeks ago in this Super Bowl though, as the Ravens played perhaps the best pass defense in the NFL over the last month after struggling in that regard for about two-thirds of the season. Remember that Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs did not play together in a single game during the regular season as they have in the playoffs, but perhaps most important has been the development of Paul Kruger into one of the best rush linebackers in the league late in the year. But while Kaepernick may not match his recent passing success, his running, as well as that of Frank Gore, will be a major key to this game vs. a Baltimore team not accustomed to facing a read option offense,

Similarly, while Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco has been brilliant in the playoffs, we may see a lot more of running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce in this contest. The biggest beneficiary of the week off last week from either team may be 49ers defensive end Justin Smith, who is playing through a partially torn triceps tendon. Smith keyed a ferocious pass rush earlier in the year, and the San Francisco defense was not the same while Smith sat out the rest of the regular season after suffering the injury at New England, and it has not been the same with him back for the first two playoff games either. If the added rest allows him to get closer to what he was, then we should see the return of the dominant San Francisco defense since as great as Flacco has been, he is not the most mobile of quarterbacks.

The 'under' is 6-2 in the last eight Super Bowls. The 'under' is also 4-1 in the last five Baltimore games vs. teams with winning records, as well as 4-1 in the Ravens' last five games overall.

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Bob Balfe

49ers -3.5 over Ravens

Let me start out by saying that the Super Bowl is not a football game. The team that handles this “event” better will win this game. The Ravens come into this game after knocking off two powerhouse football teams. Denver had Baltimore all but eliminated and gave up a huge play to allow the Ravens to move on. The 49ers had their own drama, being down 17 early to the Falcons. Both teams have their story lines, but none is bigger than Ray Lewis hanging it up after this game - win or lose. The truth is Ray Lewis is not a young man anymore and neither is a lot of the guys on defense. This is not the same Ravens defense from the last decade. This defense has been playing on pure emotion and the worst thing you can do to take that away is to sit a team for two weeks. The 49ers are a faster football team that really has not changed other than Colin Kaepernick taking over for Alex Smith and the increased involvement of Randy Moss. All of the guys on both sides of the ball have played together for a few seasons now. This offensive line is the very best in football and I just do not know if Baltimore is going to be able to stop the pistol offense. The Ravens cannot get aggressive defending this type of offense and will have to play on their heels to stop the quarterback from making them look silly. When the Ravens are on offense, they have many weapons. This team can hit you with the deep ball and utilize their excellent running game at any given time. The problem for them is San Francisco is good at stopping the run and they have pro bowlers in the secondary that can take away the deep ball from Torrey Smith. The 49ers do not easily give up the big play and I think that is the difference in this game. The game is changing whether you like it or not. The QB’s are being babied and teams cannot win with hard hitting defenses anymore because of all the flags. The Ravens have not played on turf in a dome all year long. The 49ers played in this stadium earlier this year and gives them a good advantage on Sunday. This is a fast-playing surface which favors the much quicker team. The NFL is changing. Guys like Kaepernick are the new stars in the NFL. This should be a great game. Take the 49ers.

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TOP SHELF CHICAGO

San Francisco -4

The Ravens defense has not had to defend the likes of Kaepernick yet. And they do not have the personnel to do so. The defensive starters have been on the field more than any other team in NFL play-off history. Their best players are all nursing injuries. They are in a tough sot.

Last two weeks I have raved about Kaepernicks qualities. More about what he can do that others cannot match up with. The Ravens are built with size. They like to play in between the seems with the backers. You cannot set the edge vs a read option run by Kaepernick. You can only force one or the other and hope each man performs his responsibility well. This is how San Fran has gotten large chunks of yardage and convert on third down. Ray Lewis will be exposed.

The Ravens offense is rather basic. They are led by a pro bowl running back who does not see the ball enough. Their QB has a big arm who struggles with the intermediate pass. Whispers say they will attack the San Fran secondary deep. Much like Atlanta did. I see this being the wrong approach. Why? San Fran's defenses was top 5 in every category I look at. They only allowed 38 passes of more than 20 yards this season. Only 7 passes of more than 40 yards. They were third in QB rating against and have handled tight ends well. I just do not see the Ravens getting enough done.

Atlanta attacked the San Fran Backs with vertical play action and Pro Bowl wide outs like Jones and White. There is no Jones or White on the Ravens. The Ravens won't get more than 20. San Fran's kicking issues will not be a problem indoors. San Fran hangs a big number. San Fran and the over.

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Ben BurnsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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New Jersey vs. NY IslandersFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: NY IslandersFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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As a young child, I once attended an Islanders game (at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto) on my birthday. That was back in the Bossy/Trottier/Potvin/Smith days, when the Isles were the best team in the world. I loved hockey and it was a special night for me.
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Since that era ended, the Isles have largely fallen on hard times.

The Devils have been a better team than them nearly every year in recent memory. That gap may be shrinking though. That was evident at New Jersey on 1/31, when the Isles escaped with a 5-4 victory.
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The Devils would obviously love some payback. However, they're not playing well right now and they're in a bit of a tough scheduling spot.

Meanwhile, having lived in the basement for so many years, the Isles would love to kick a struggling division rival while its down.
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Although they are playing their first home game off a road trip, the Islanders come in well-rested and off back-to-back victories. The Devils played yesterday, suffering their fourth straight loss.

Despite having the venue and schedule in their favor, the Isles are only a very modest favorite, essentially a pick'em game. I feel that's based in part to the last 10+ years, which really isn't particularly relevant to this season.
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The Isles are a profitable 20-15 (+9.6) the past couple of seasons, when playing with two day's rest in between games. I feel they're worth a look here.

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David ChanFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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New Jersey is coming off a 5-1 loss at Pittsburgh yesterday. The Devils have lost four straight, giving up 15 goals during the slide.
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And that doesn't bode well vs. this Islanders team which is averaging 3.86 GPG.
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Note that New Jersey is already 0-3 (-3.1 units) when playing against a team with a winning record this season.

New York is 4-2-1 and is coming off a 5-4 OT win over New Jersey on the 31st.
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It was the successful end to an overall 3-1-1 road trip.

It's been the power-play which has been the difference, converting on 37.5% of its chances.
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And special teams have been equally adept at shutting down the man advantage, failing just once in 25 short-handed situations.

It's interesting to note that New York is 3-1 (+2.9 units) after scoring 4 goals or more in its previous game.
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No need to overanalyze this play. These teams are moving in opposite directions, and I believe the Islanders take full advantage of this tired Devils side, finding a way to get the job done at the end of the day!

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Wisconsin vs. IllinoisFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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No doubt that Illinois is in serious payback mode after getting drilled by 23 at Madison on Jan. 12, a day when the Illini hit only 35% from the floor and were throttled on the boards, with the Badgers owning 41-23 carom edge. But recent Illinois form doesn’t suggest revenge is likely, as the shortcomings that were evidenced in the paint in the first meeting have not abated in subsequent weeks, with Illini (3-6 SU last 9, 2-8 vs. the line last 10 thru Jan. 30) continuing to struggle, dropping into severe Big Dance bubble trouble.  Bo Ryan’s hounding defense has disrupted the Illinois offensive flow the past few seasons, especially star G Brandon Paul, who was just 1 of 11 from the floor in first meeting and a is mere 12 of 39 the last three battles vs. the Badgers.

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Jesse SchuleFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Ottawa vs. MontrealFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Habs were firing on all cylinders yesterday afternoon, as they exploded offensively against the Buffalo Sabres, chasing Ryan Miller from the goal after two periods in a 6-1 blowout win. They face what appears to be a tougher task this afternoon though, hosting the Ottawa Senators, a team that has allowed fewer goals than any other club this season.
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Craig Anderson has been rock solid between the pipes for Ottawa so far, with a record of 5-1 and a miniscule GAA of 0.99. The Senators have been very efficient with their special teams play, ranking among the best in the NHL both with their power-play and penalty killing.
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The Senators defeated the Habs in Ottawa by a score of 5-1 on Wednesday, but Montreal's starting goalie Carey Price had the night off in that game. Price will be back between the pipes for the Habs this afternoon, after slamming the door on Buffalo, stopping 31 shots in yesterday's victory. Price is enjoying an excellent start to the season, with a record of 5-1 and posting a GAA of 1.82.
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Ottawa was dealt a cruel blow this week, learning that their leading scorer (last season) will likely miss the entire regular season. Jason Spezza will need surgery to repair a herniated disc, and it's unlikely Spezza will return before the playoffs. The Habs though have also been without their leading scorer from last season, as Max Pacioretty has missed time after having an appendectomy.
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With Montreal playing on the back end of a back to back, I don't expect the Canadiens to bring as much energy as they did in yesterday's blowout win over the Sabres. Both teams have been strong defensively, and I expect a close, tight checking game. This one might be a bit of a boring game to watch, as I don't expect a lot of action, with scoring chances being few and far between.

I will give the edge to the Senators, coming in with fresh legs, facing a Habs team that played yesterday. The Sens have the better goaltender, better penalty killing, and they should be able to take advantage of a tired Montreal team.

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Jack JonesFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Villanova -6FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Villanova Wildcats are one of the most underrated teams in the country this season. They are really improving under head coach Jay Wright as the season moves along. They have knocked off a pair of Top-10 opponents in Louisville and Syracuse in their last two home games.
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Providence is simply not a very good team this season. It has really struggled in Big East play, going 2-7 against conference opponents this year. It has also not fared well on the road, going 2-7 away from home this season.

Villanova is out for revenge from a 66-69 road loss at Providence in their first meeting of the season on January 19th just two weeks ago. The Wildcats blew a 31-24 halftime lead and committed 25 turnovers in the game. They won't be lacking any motivation in this one as they look for payback.
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The Wildcats are 7-0 ATS when playing only their 2nd game in 8 days this season. Villanova is 12-2 ATS after playing 4 consecutive games as an underdog since 1997. The Wildcats are 7-0 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a losing S.U. record. Villanova is 9-2 ATS in its last 11 games overall. Bet Villanova Sunday.

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Alex SmartFOR THE LARGEST SELECTION OF FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Ottawa +120FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Playing without No. 1 centre Jason Spezza and veteran blueliner Sergei Gonchar (lower body) the Senators were still able to hammer the Habs by a 5-1 count in front of their home town fans a few days ago. It was obvious to me in that game that the Sens current roster matched up very well against Montreal and that despite of Les Canadiens need for revenge, are still at a disadvantage. Yes even here at home in the Bell Center! Final notes & Key Trends: Canadiens are 3-10 in their last 13 vs. a team with a winning % above .600.

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