NFL Division Longshots to Consider (or Not)

Although long shots do not pay off very often – there’s a reason they’re long shots, after all – it’s worth it to consider which ones might beat the NFL odds in 2017. Last year, those who were paid off the most by betting on a long-shot division winner had the Atlanta Falcons to win the NFC South at +450. Of course, much of the credit for Atlanta’s division title does have to go to the Carolina Panthers who fell from a 15-1 mark in 2015 to a 6-10 record.

Longest of Long Odds

Two teams enter the 2017 campaign at +3300 to win their respective titles, the Cleveland Browns (AFC North) and New York Jets (AFC East).

One positive for Cleveland is that, barring a winless season, there’s nowhere to go but up after the Browns went 1-15 in 2016, the team’s worst record in its storied history. But the focus for us is whether they can shock football fans and win their division. One plus is that the Browns have basically torn apart their playbook in the offseason and started over as that sometimes leads the way for surprises to occur, which will be necessary, especially from the quarterback position; Cody Kessler is tentatively leading that battle.

Now, the New York Jets may appear to have a few steps on Cleveland as their 2011 record was a bit better at 5-11. However, they have to overtake the New England Patriots to win their division title, which will likely be a much harder hurdle to overcome than anything Cleveland has to face. In fact, the Patriots have the shortest division title odds in the NFL at -500. And, like the Browns, New York is in rebuilding mode and hoping that all of the pieces end up going in the right places and that career seasons come from unexpected sources.

Long Shots

Three more teams have double-digit odds against them winning their respective division titles: the Chicago Bears (+1200), Los Angeles Rams (+1200) and San Francisco 49ers (+1800).

Chicago is another team coming off of a horrible season as the Bears were 3-13 in 2016, their second-worst record in history. Can that be turned around so much that a NFC North title is in the works? Of course, the Green Bay Packers (-140) falling to the pack is as necessary as an unexpected Bears turnaround for that to occur. As far as the Bears go, they are expecting more of the same after little change in starting personnel and a questionable draft. However, they should have some depth behind what appears to be mediocre starters.

The Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers are also hurt just as much by the strength of a division rival, the Seattle Seahawks in this case (-350), as they are by the relative lack of quality they appear to bring.

If Seattle does falter, the Rams will need to see a dramatic improvement under the tutelage of 31-year-old Sean McVay, the youngest head coach in NFL history. Of course, a positive that can be taken from not knowing what to expect from an unproven coach is that the potential for an unexpected positive outcome is there as well. Wade Phillips joining the Rams staff as their defensive coordinator is a good sign as well as he recently helped the Denver Broncos to a Super Bowl title.

Conversely, will the 49ers be able to rise up and take the crown should the Seahawks fall back to the pack? It’s unlikely, especially when you consider how much turnover the team has experienced over the last few years, especially at the head coaching position. Kyle Shanahan will be San Francisco’s fourth head coach in the past four seasons. However, the front office did take advantage of all of the cap room that the team had to sign players such as Pierre Garcon, Kyle Juszczyk and Malcolm Smith.

Best Pick

Of the five long shots to win their division this year, I would go with the Los Angeles Rams. The added energy of such a young head coach in McVay will help them exceed expectations while the 70-year-old Phillips will bring some stability too with all of the knowledge that he’s bringing to Southern California. Of course, much of the success of this bet will have to do with Seattle faltering too, but that’s possible, and it’s important to remember that long shots like this don’t have to pay off that often to be good bets.

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The Run for World Series This October Just Got Interesting!

Everyone knows the two favorites this year are the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers have Kershaw at the head of their rotation, and he’s the best pitcher in baseball. Their team ERA is 3.15, which is among the best. The Astros are scoring touchdowns worth of runs and have a team batting average of nearly .300. Their team slugging percentage is .500 … including pitchers in National League parks. Do you want to see a comparison in World Series odds? The 1927 Yankees hit 158 home runs in their season and scored 976 runs. The Astros are on a pace for 960 runs and 269 home runs.

There are, however, some teams that might make some noise down the stretch. How about a team that is two games over .500 but has been outscored by more than 60 runs? The Minnesota Twins are gutty, gritty, and do whatever they can to win. Their uniforms are always dirty from sliding, diving, and putting forth extra effort. They are finding ways to win when they need to win and have a good shot at winning the American League Central, particularly if they can pick up the pace at home. They are already 10 games over .500 on the road this season. This is a far cry from losing 109 games last season!

The Milwaukee Brewers are the Rodney Dangerfield of the National League. Only one team has hit more home runs: the slug-o-matic Houston Astros. Although their defense is suspect, the Brewers are doing the same things the Twins are doing to win. Domingo Santana, especially, has worked on his patience at the plate, raising both his batting average and on-base percentage 40 points in 2017.

The Arizona Diamondbacks are in an even less enviable position than the Brewers. While the Brewers get no respect, the Diamondbacks are hardly even noticed. Just check out their best player: Paul Goldschmidt. Who? Goldschmidt just hit .312 with 20 homers and a league-leading 73 runs scored. Guess what? He didn’t even start in the All-Star game even though he had a better on-base percentage than Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals, who did start. Zimmerman is a poor fielder, too, when compared to Goldschmidt. The Diamondbacks aren’t going to catch the Dodgers in the regular season, in all likelihood, but they have a terrific shot at the wild card and have Zack Greinke, Zack Godley, and Robbie Ray headlining the rotation. Anything can happen in a seven-game series too.

Is it likely to be the Astros and Dodgers in the World Series? Yes. It is not a foregone conclusion, however, and they will have to be on the lookout for good teams with great character who are gunning for them.

Red Sox Trying To Contend Again

SOXTwo years ago, the Boston Red Sox were starting off a championship campaign. They were able to go all the way to the World Series thanks to a number of guys stepping up. Unfortunately, they fell apart in 2014, and that led to quite a few changes over the winter. They enter the 2015 season very confident that they will get back into contention. The question is, can they actually win a World Series title with the team they have assembled?

The two main pieces Boston brought in over the winter include Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. These two players were National League rivals last year, but both help out one of 2014’s worst offenses in baseball, as most of the other talented hitters on the Red Sox had started to show their age.

Boston is also expecting some more things out of their youngsters who will get a chance to play on a consistent basis. Xander Bogaerts was unable to turn that corner in 2014, but he is still considered to be a future All-Star. Mookie Betts could get to that level as well, as he brings some much needed speed and defense to the roster. He is considered a sleeper in fantasy baseball heading into the season.

Pitching is the biggest question mark for the Red Sox, but a lot can change between April and October. For starters, a pitcher or two on the current roster could exceed expectations in fantasy baseball. There is also a chance that Boston will decide to go after a few different options in a potential trade down the road. They are not afraid of all to be active at the trade deadline if that means an opportunity to win.

Boston probably enters the season in the as the favorites American League East with the Toronto Blue Jays. Overall, the division is not a strong as it has been in the past. If they can get into the playoffs, Boston certainly has the firepower to go all the way.

International Roadtrip – NHL Playoff Style

Bruins-CanadiensBoston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens. If you’re reading this website you probably don’t need to be told what that means but just in case, I’ll sum it up for you in three sentences: We hate them. They hate us. This is going to be awesome.

After opening up with the first two games in Boston, the series heads north of the border for games three and four on Tuesday, May 6th and Thursday May 8th. If a game six becomes necessary it will be back in Montreal on Monday May 12th.

Our boys could use the support for those road games and seeing how Montreal is just a five-hour drive from Boston, the circumstances make for a perfect guys’ getaway. If you’re going, here’s a guide for what to do, where to go and what to bring.

What to do: Drink Good Beer

Where to go: The Dieu du Ciel! is one of the most popular microbreweries in a city that loves its microbreweries.

What to bring: Your liver.

What to do: Go to a strip club

Where to go: Montreal is known for two things: Habs hockeyand strip clubs. There are hundreds, but here are four of the more popular places with all the details.

What to bring: Canadian currency. The Canadian dollar comes in both bill and coin form, giving you the option of making it rain or hail.

What to do: Gamble

Where to go: The Casino de Montreal has tables for poker, blackjack, keno, baccarat, craps and roulette plus slot machines.

What to bring: A poker strategy guide and this (although the dealers may not be too fond of it).

What to do: Eat Poutine.This local cuisine is poutine, a hot mess of french fries, gravy and cheese curds.

Where to go: If you’r looking for poutine, La Banquise is the place to do it.

What to bring: An empty stomach and an open mind.

What to do: Ice skating

Where to go: C’mon, this is hockey playoffs! Get in the spirit and lace ’em up at Atrium Le 1000, located in Montreal’s tallest building.

What to bring: Your Bruins jersey and skates (although rentals are offered).

Oh, and don’t forget your passport. You might need that too. Go Bruins!

Lucky You, Red Sox Fans: It’s Time to Cruise

bosoxWhat do some legendary former Red Sox players, WEEI broadcaster Joe Castiglione, Celebrity Cruise lines and you have in common? The opportunity to have an island-hopping romp together in January 2014, that’s what.

Beginning Jan. 12, 2,886 lucky passengers will leave the real world behind and set sail for seven nights in the Caribbean on one of Frommer’s 2011 “Best Cruise Ships,” the Celebrity Silhouette. This cruise news is a big deal for both Celebrity and Boston—so what can fans expect?

Destination Paradise

Departing from Ft. Lauderdale, the ship first sails to Cozumel, Mexico, for a full day on shore to do as you please. Next stop: George Town, Grand Cayman, for another full day of adventure or relaxation. On to Falmouth, Jamaica, for a day and then Labadee, Haiti (Celebrity’s own private island). Each town offers unique excursions:

  • Mexico: Take a secret river and cavern tour, ride an ATV for an off-road adventure through the jungle, go kayaking or simply relax on la playa (the beach)
  • Grand Cayman: Snorkle in crystal blue waters, visit Stingray City on a catamaran sail or relive the swashbuckling days on a boat complete with a crew acting out real pirate encounters
  • Jamaica: Hike a volcano or have a zipline and bobsled canopy tour through the tropical coastal forest
  • Labadee private island: Ride a coaster and jump on an in-water trampolines at the largest aqua park in the Caribbean, ride jet skis or parasail 400 feet above the sea

On the Ship

There is a full day at sea before arriving back in the U.S., which is a good thing. There are two exclusive cocktail parties for Boston fans to hobnob with some of the organization’s legends, including Castiglione. Drink martinis at a special tasting and karaoke into the night singing “Sweet Caroline” in tribute.

Toss a ball around with Keith Foulke; relax with a cocktail and BBQ with fellow Boston fans on the ship’s Lawn Club; paint a picture in the onboard art studio; grab a craft beer at Michael’s Club; go tax and duty-free shopping at stores of the most luxurious brands like Bvlgari and Versace; try your luck at blackjack in the onboard casino. And eat … eat really well, 24/7.

The trip starts at $910 for a stateroom and goes up from there, according to MLB.com. This price includes an onboard credit of $50, most meals, port charges, fitness centers and events on the ship.

The Partnership

Start looking for Celebrity banners at the games. The Red Sox have recognized the company as the team’s official cruise line. The partnership also includes experiences at Fenway Park, according to the Wall Street Journal.

  • Celebrity will become present in the park and four times a month will have fan giveaways
  • There will be chances to win tickets to this once in a lifetime trip
  • Each double play executed by the Red Sox this season get a fan $200 off a Celebrity cruise

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

She’s the Man (Part 2) – Gina M.

Boston Sports Blog’s Hottest Sports Couples

In honor of Valentine’s Day, the ladies of BSB are celebrating the top five hottest couples in sports. Here we go!

5. Mike Fisher & Carrie Underwood – Having celebrated their first anniversary in July 2011, these two might still be in the honeymoon phase but Carrie’s career would skyrocket if Mike cheated- it worked for Adele right?

 

4. Anna Kournikova & Enrique Iglesias – Rumor has it that this couple has been on and off for 10 years. Could it be his music that is keeping this couple together?  Baby, I like it.

3. Lamar Odom & Khloe Kardashian – How could we not mention these two love birds? Kimmy K might not have fared well but Khole and Lamar are making it work. However, would it be surprising if they broke up tomorrow?

2. Tom Brady & Gisele Bundchen – I admire Gisele for speaking her mind. Yes, I understand you win as a team and you lose as a team but come on…it is Gisele. If Gisele and Tom were to break up, I would probably not believe in love anymore.

 

1. David & Victoria Beckham – Although it was a toss-up between the Beckham’s and the Brady’s, the Beckham’s won solely on the purpose that I have been involved with this couple since the days of the Spice Girls. I truly admire them. Nothing says you are in a loving and confident relationship like allowing your significant other to pose in their underwear for millions to see.

 

She’s the Man (Part 1) – Gina M.

Looking to Score on Valentine’s Day?

Yes, you guessed it. The second post from the BSB ladies comes just in time for Hallmark holiday of the year, Valentine’s Day. You may be thinking, what does Valentine’s Day and Boston Sports have in common? Absolutely nothing if you already have dinner reservations and flowers picked out. However, if that doesn’t apply to you, I would high tail it to the Garden on Tuesday night to celebrate the right way…with the Bruins. The Bruins are playing the New York Rangers…Going to be a good game, right? Well, I’m not here to talk about the game.

Rather, I am here to provide you the game plan on how to find the most eligible bachelors and bachelorettes while you are at the Garden.

1. Find the Perfect Seat: The Loge Sections 1-22 are prime locations for meeting Mr. or Mrs. Right Now. The right amount of rowdy and fun.
2. Make conversation in the Beer Line: As many of you BSB-ers know, beer lines can be brutal. You want to get your drink on (responsibility) but there is always an 85 year old working the line you are in. This presents the perfect opportunity to make conversation with that special someone.
3. Don’t bash Valentine’s Day: Ladies, this is specifically for you- when the conversation starts-DO NOT BASH VALENTINE’S DAY-you will come off as a bitter girl and no one likes a bitter girl.
4. Facebook and Twitter Updates can wait: Now, we are all guilty of this but no one likes the person playing with their phone. Focus on the game, make conversation but don’t update, unless you are thanking BSB for these great tips. #thankyoubostonsportsblog

Ditch the dinner plans, grab your Bruin’s jersey and head to the Garden to watch at least one Boston team beat New York…too soon?

She’s the Man – Alli B.

How To Watch the Super Bowl With Your Girlfriend

Do you immediately start laughing at your girl when she talks football? Don’t flatter yourselves guys. Over 1,000 people were surveyed through an online study conducted by Atlanta Journal-Constitution who confirmed that 73% of women would rather watch the Super Bowl than have sex. Guys on the other hand were split 50/50 when asked which activity they’d prefer on this upcoming Sunday. Ask yourself this- where does my loyalty rest?

Believe it or not, women have started placing Super Bowl bets just as often as men. These bets may not be the standard ones like who will actually win the game, but rather, “Will Madonna play Like a Virgin at Halftime?” “Will Kelly Clarkson mess up the National Anthem?” Guys, keep your hundred dollar bets on whether the final score will end in a 3 and a 7, but dish out the extra $5 to go up against your girl.

Competition and hostility are trivial aspects of football that can be expressed in varying ways amongst both males and females. Trust me, your true colors shine when you start screaming every profane word you’ve ever heard in your life in a never ending sentence of vulgarity. Whether you actually do that or not, sporting events such as the Super Bowl are meant to bring us together! So if you’re crushing 30-40 wings or nibbling on Skinny Buffalo Chicken Dip (ladies I suggest the recipe from SarahFit), remember that we’re all in this together- GO PATS!

P.S. Listen up ladies. Do not wear a pink jersey. Do not drink wine. Drink beer only out of a bottle or in a red cup. Do your homework and know the QBs on each team. Do not ask questions during play. Party on!

-Alli B.