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US Open Cup Soccer Betting Tips

June 30, 2009

The 2009 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup features a jam-packed schedule on Tuesday as soccer betting continues at BetOnline Sportsbook. After USA reached the Confederations Cup final this weekend there is a renewed worldwide interest in American football. What better way to further that interest than take a look at the US Open Cup third round matchups today.

Soccer Betting Line:

Charleston Battery +185

Chivas USA +125

Draw +215

Match Time: 07:30 P.M. Eastern Time Wednesday June 30 2009

Soccer Betting Verdict: Chivas finished their participation in SuperLiga 2009 and travel to South Carolina for their third round match of the US Open Cup against Charleston Battery of the USL first division. The Red-and-White hope to reach the quarters for the first time. Meanwhile, Charleston are in second place in their division, boasting a 7-2-6 mark. They were last year’s finalists after losing to D.C. in the title match. This should be a close match. Lots of quality on both sides. The market favours Chivas but Charleston cannot be dismissed. They believe they will come through on their puppy odds.

Soccer Free Picks: Charleston Battery +185

Soccer Betting Line:

Washington DC United -550

Ocean City Barons +1000

Draw +450

Match Time: 07:30 P.M. Eastern Time Wednesday June 30 2009

Soccer Betting Verdict: D.C. united continue their Cup defence against Ocean City Barons and they enter this match as the whopping favourites to go through to the quarters. The Barons are 5-1-1 in their division, while United is 5-2-7 in Major League Soccer, and lead the Eastern Conference with 22 points Concerns for United is their growing injury list. The Barons enjoyed a noteworthy run up to this might but D.C. United have depth and should prove too strong.

Soccer Free Picks: D.C. United -550.

Soccer Betting Line:

Minnesota Thunder +325

Kansas City Wizards -135

Draw +235

Match Time: 08:00 P.M. Eastern Time Wednesday June 30 2009

Soccer Betting Verdict: Kansas City Wizards bowed out of SuperLiga after a crushing 3-1 loss. They will have to bounce back on Tuesday when they collide with Minnesota Thunder in third round action at the US Open Cup. Their matchup is a rematch of the 2005 US Open Cup action when Minnesota beat Wizards away 3-1. Though the makeup of the teams is different today (all new players mostly) their rematch is still an interesting one and it will be the match to spot. The market favours Wizards for the win and avenging that loss and I would agree.

Soccer Free Picks: Wizards -135

Wagering Strategy for Indiana Downs Race 7

June 30, 2009

Horse Pick of the Day: Indiana Downs – Race 7

Race-day: 6/30/2009

Race-time: 7:25 pm est.

Race 7 at Indiana Downs figures a very tough low level allowance slugfest between some good turf horses. In other words, it’s the perfect place for BetOnline racebook fans to find a horse to try and make profits with.

Let’s take a look at Race 7 at Indiana Downs on Tuesday night.

Indiana Downs – Race 7

Allowance $21,000 n2L

For Fillies and Mares Three Years Old and Upward Which Have Never Won Two Races

1 mile (turf)

Winners Get Even – - 5/1 morning line

There isn’t a whole lot not to like about this daughter of Stephen Got Even that broke her maiden by 5 lengths two races ago and then came right back at this level to finish second by 5 ¾ lengths. That was a very good first race against winners and if Winners Get Even can improve off of that, then she figures to be very tough in this. Jockey Mojica is winning at a 23% clip at the meet and trainer Sims is winning at a 29% clip at the meet. She figures to be dangerous.

Ectonia – - 8/1 morning line

Some of her competition looks to be tough in this but none of her competition will be able to take her on early in this race. She can do whatever she wants on the front end, hasn’t finished worse than second in three lifetime races, and comes form the underrated Eric Reed barn. There’s a lot to like about this front runner on the lawn.

Congruent – - 10/1 morning line

She broke her maiden first time asking by 1 ¼ lengths and figures to improve off of that as this will be her second lifetime race. Betting on a first time against winners horse is always difficult to do, but her breeding suggests that she loves the turf and Randy Preston is a classic soft baller trainer with 1 victory, Congruent, and 1 third place finisher out of 4 starters at this meet.

Wagering Strategy

I like Winners Get Even and will bet her to win and place. I will also put Winners Get Even, Congruent and Ectonia into an exacta and trifecta box.

US Open Cup Quick Picks

June 30, 2009

The USA Open Cup enters the third round matches and it is a busy ledger at BetOnline Sportsbook as soccer betting continues. So to get you started, here is a quick look at some of the excitement the North American continent has to offer the worldwide soccer betting community.

Soccer Betting Line:

Wilmington Hammerheads +450

Chicago Fire -200

Draw +275

Match Time: 07:00 P.M. Eastern Time Wednesday June 30 2009

Soccer Betting Verdict: Wilmington enters this match as the underdogs, tipped at +450 but they have a legitimate chance to take this match. Chicago Fire is playing without John Thorrington (injured), Logan Pause (U.S. team commitments) and Cuauhtemoc Blanco (suspended). Coach Denis Hamlet has some holes to fill on the pitch. Tough match to call because of these unknowns: who will be in the line-up and the quality of Wilmington. If regulars fill the hole, Chicago Fire, favourites at -200, are a good play to win. Otherwise, the minor league underdogs might upset Fire and go to the fourth round. Unthinkable, or is it.

Soccer Free Picks: Chicago Fire -200

Soccer Betting Line:

Rochester Raging Rhinos +200

Columbus Crew +115

Draw +220

Match Time: 07:00 P.M. Eastern Time Wednesday June 30 2009

Soccer Betting Verdict: Columbus Crew won the MLS Cup and the Supporters’ Shield for having the best record in MLS last season. Impressive as it was it would have been better had they completed the triple by winning the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. They are chasing the cup this season and next up are Rochester Raging Rhinos. Columbus is priced only marginally better at +115. They have their hands full with minor league minnows who would like nothing better than to upset the big league visitors. But Columbus has a lot of quality. They are the better pick especially at such a price.

Soccer Free Picks: Columbus Crew +115

Soccer Betting Line:

New England Revolution -275

Harrisburg City Islanders +550

Draw +335

Match Time: 07:00 P.M. Eastern Time Wednesday June 30 2009

Soccer Betting Verdict: New England clinched a spot in the SuperLiga 2009 semi-final round two days ago and now they will begin their quest to reclaim the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup when they host Harrisburg City Islanders of USL-2 in the third round of the competition. They met at the 2007 US Open Cup in the quarters. Revolution won 2-1 at the time and went on to win the competition. Both Revolution and Islanders have enjoyed encouraging seasons in their respective leagues and come into this match full of confidence. The market favours New England (naturally) but it will be a close match in spite of the soccer betting line. Islanders are at the top of their league and they have something to prove in this match, making the draw a legitimate bet. More likely than not, Revolution should go to win this match.

Soccer Free Picks: New England Revolution -275

Venus Williams bids for a spot in the Semis

June 30, 2009

London, Great Britain – Venus Williams got a free pass into the quarterfinals when Serbian starlet Ana Ivanovic withdrew from their R16 encounter, down a set and a break in the second set with a thigh injury. It was tears for Ivanovic and concern from Venus that left a lasting impression on Centre Court this afternoon but the two-time defending champion is through to the quarters and she has to be happy about the reprieve. Next up for Venus is Agnieszka Radwansk who beat American qualifier Melanie Oudin in the R16 today.

BetOnline Sportsbook is already taking action on the women’s quarterfinals at Wimbledon so check out all the action available.

Tennis Betting Line: Venus Williams -1000         Agnieska Radwanska     +500   
Match Time: 06:00 A.M. Eastern Time Tuesday June 30 2009

Head-to-head Analysis: Venus Williams owns the head-to-head series 3-1 lifetime and 2-0 in 2009. They met twice this season in Miami and Rome. Radwanksa took the first set off Venus in Miami before losing in three. In Rome, she lost in straight sets. Radwanska’s lone victory over Venus came in 2006.

Tennis betting Analysis: Venus Williams -1000: Venus Williams is a hefty favourite at the overwhelming price tag of -1000. She enters this tournament as the outright favourite by a country mile. Winning five titles at the All England Club might have had something to do with the way the market cast the American. Williams is gunning for her sixth Wimby overall and third consecutive crown. She arrived in London, strapped knees and all but in spite of the scary amount of bandages on her knees, she has breezed through her quarter to reach the final eight. Overall, she is 21-6 with two titles on the season.

Agnieszka Radwanska +500: The 20-year-old Polish tennis star enters this match with a +500 underdog price tag. The talented, clean hitting Pole is through to her second consecutive Wimby quarter after she beat American qualifier Melanie Oudin in the R16 today. Last year, Radwanska met sister Serena Williams at this stage of the tournament and lost to her 6-4, 6-0.

She is overall 19-12 on the season with no titles. Her best tournament result this season was the quarterfinal round – which she made in six events. She is 0-6 to go through to the semis.

Tennis Betting Verdict: Radwanksa is more likely to slip to 0-7 in quarterfinals than she is to reach the semis tomorrow by beating Venus Williams. The American loves grass and it brings out her A-game. She has enjoyed a lot of success at Wimby and most tennis bettors cannot see what it would look like for her to lose to Radwanska. Anything can happen naturally. It would mean Radwanska plays out of her mind. Ya, still don’t see it happening.

Tennis Free Picks: Venus in straight sets

UFC Middleweight Power Rankings

June 30, 2009

The UFC’s middleweight division as a whole hasn’t done a very good job of pushing champ and pound-for-pound elite fighter Anderson Silva, but some promising contenders are finally making themselves known in the division. After Silva faces Forrest Griffin at UFC 101, he just might take on the winner of Demia Maia and Nate Marquardt in his next match and that could finally make for an entertaining title fight.

Here is a ranking of the top five current middleweight fighters in the UFC:

1. Anderson Silva (24-4)-

“The Spider” is the most dominant middleweight the UFC has ever seen and now he will venture back to the 205-pound weight class in his next bout to take on Forrest Griffin.

The hope is that the aggressive Griffin will at least get in Silva’s face and challenge him to actually fight unlike what happened in his UFC title bout with Thales Leites. Silva will be at a size disadvantage against Griffin and that could lead to one of the biggest challenges of his career.

2. Yushin Okami (23-4)-

“Thunder” has been battling injuries for a good part of the last two years. He is rumored to be fighting former title contender Patrick Cote in September which should be an entertaining fight and a good challenge for Okami, who many peers consider to be as physically strong as anyone they’ve faced in the division.

3. Dan Henderson (24-7)-

It’s tough to figure out just where this MMA legend stacks up in the division in terms of a future title shot but he’ll make a good payday against Michael Bisping at UFC 100 in their main card clash. He gets the nod over Nate Marquardt due to longevity and resume. He doesn’t appear to have lost much over the years in terms of skill and ability despite his advancing age.

4. Nate Marquardt (28-8-2)-

The former kingpin of pancrase fighting is now one of the most well-rounded mixed martial artists in the entire UFC and he seems to get better with each fight. Many fans feel that a rematch with Silva would be much closer than their first title fight as Marquardt has diversified his game, greatly improving his stand-up skills.

5. Demian Maia (10-0)-

Maia will face Mardquardt at UFC 102 in August in what is sure to be a purist’s dream fight. His standup is solid but it’s his combination of physical strength and jiu-jitsu prowess that has some thinking he could be the next coming of heavyweight legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, only in a smaller package.

Up-and-comer to watch: Yoshiro Akiyama (12-1)

The UFC’s latest big overseas acquisition will face a tough test against solid middleweight Alan Belcher at UFC 100. If he can get by Belcher he could be on a fast track to a title shot. Akiyama’s judo skills and submission game are a potent combination which should make for an entertaining run in the UFC for fans. Akiyama could help breathe some much-needed life into the UFC’s most pedestrian division.

UFC Lightweight Power Rankings – BJ’s Crown for now

June 30, 2009

The UFC’s lightweight division has been owned by BJ Penn for quite some time now. But after his beatdown at the hands of Georges St. Pierre in their welterweight superfight, it seems his luster has worn off.

The UFC is missing a few of the top challengers in this division like Shinya Aoki and Joachim Hansen, but it still boasts a deep talent pool.

Who are the greatest challengers to his throne? Read on in the UFC lightweight power rankings:

1. BJ Penn (13-5-1)-

Perhaps the most flexible fighter in the UFC, Penn can pull off submissions in odd positions, making him a major threat on the ground. His boxing skills are also polished, and his only weakness might be a lack of physicality compared to some of the bigger lightweights.

He will take on Kenny Florian in a highly-anticipated UFC 101 battle in Philadelphia in August.

2. Kenny Florian (11-3)-

Being manhandled by Sean Sherk might have been the best thing that happened to Florian in terms of his future career prospects as he has gotten much stronger since then.

With his ability to transition seamlessly from kicks and punches to takedowns and submission attempts, he will give Penn all he can handle.

3. Diego Sanchez (21-2)-

His win over Clay Guida was impressive in that he dominated early and then survived the successive onslaughts one of the most intense and relentless fighters the UFC has ever seen.

Sanchez has a one-track mind and the UFC Lightweight Title is virtually the only thing on it right now. He has the all-around skills to get it done and the lightweight division seems like the perfect spot for him considering his body type.

4. Gray Maynard (7-0, 1 NC)-

Maynard is a wrecking machine at 155 pounds with some of the best top control wrestling in the division, if not the best. With his improving boxing skills, he could be the next evolution of former UFC Lightweight Title holder Sean Sherk despite not being the most popular guy around.

5. Frankie Edgar (10-1)-

His win over Sean Sherk showcased his excellent boxing skills and has cemented him as a true elite fighter in the division. His lack of height could hinder him at some point but for now he is one of the best the division has to offer.

Up-and-comer to watch: Efrain Escudero (11-0)

The Ultimate Fighter Season 8 winner still has a long way to go but in a division devoid of top prospects he looks like the real deal. He has a versatile game and is equally adept both striking and on the ground.

Positive NFL Offseason Transactions Could Lift Contenders

June 29, 2009

Okay BetOnline NFL sports betting fanatics, with the start of the 2009 NFL wagering season drawing closer by the day, this look at which NFL teams helped themselves out the most during the annual free agent signing period, will give NFL sports betting enthusiasts everywhere the inside knowledge they will need in order to make a multitude of bankroll boosting wagers each and every Sunday of the upcoming 2009 NFL preseason, regular season and postseason.

Several of the teams on this list helped themselves in a big way with one or more free agent signings while others may have signed a lesser amount of players but ones that will undoubtedly make an impact in their new places of employment.

With NFL preseason camps set to open in just a few weeks, let me get started.

New England Patriots

RB Fred Taylor

WR Joey Galloway

WR Greg Lewis

TE Chris Baker

TE Alex Smith

CB Shawn Springs

Analysis: Say what you like about the New England Patriots, (11-5 SU, 9-7 ATS, 8-7-1 O/U in 2008) but they’ve been maddeningly consistent over the years, posting a stellar 11-5 record even after losing starting quarterback Tom Brady in the first game of the 2008 regular season.

Now, if Brady can come back healthy, New England is set to make another run at a Super Bowl title by making the best offseason free agent signings of any team in the league.

New England added Hall of Fame-bound running back Fred Taylor to help shore up its mediocre rushing attack while also adding veteran wide receivers Joey Galloway and Greg Lewis and tight ends Chris Baker and Alex Smith, not to mention veteran cornerback Shawn Springs.

While many football pundits may think most of these players are on the respective last legs, I say the Pats made some excellent free agent additions that could lead to a Super Bowl title either in 2009 or 2010. The Patriots are +600 to win Super Bowl XLIV in the BetOnline Sportsbook.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TE Kellen Winslow

RB Derrick Ward

QB Byron Leftwich

Analysis: The Buccaneers (9-7 SU, 8-8 ATS, 8-8 O/U in 2008) are getting a top-flight tight end in Kellen Winslow and one that could reach Pro Bowl status immediately with his new change of scenery should first-year head coach Raheem Morris figure out how to use the fleet-footed tight end properly.

I also love Tampa Bay’s addition of former New York Giants running back Derrick Ward, a runner I think has 1,200 yards written all over his 2009 season if the Bucs use him early and often.

Finally, I think the addition of veteran quarterback Byron Leftwich could turn out to be a stroke of genius, (although I admit I never would have parted ways with Jeff Garcia) following a positive season as the backup QB for the Super Bowl-champion Pittsburgh Steelers. The Buccaneers are +4000 to win Super Bowl XLIV in the BetOnline Sportsbook.

Atlanta Falcons

Tony Gonzalez

Analysis: The Falcons (11-5 SU, 9-7 ATS, 7-9 O/U in 2008) pulled off a move that I thought was an absolute stroke of genius by adding future Hall of Fame tight end to their explosive offense which features the best young quarterback in the game in my estimation in second-year signal caller Matt Ryan.

Now, Ryan, who is advanced and poised beyond his years, has two reliable wide receivers, one of the game’s most elusive running backs and now, a hall of Fame tight end that led all tight ends in receptions and receiving yards in 2008.

Sounds like the Falcons have a Super Bowl quality offense to me. Now, if Atlanta can improve its uninspiring, but improving defense, this team could be a force for years to come in the NFC. The Falcons are +2500 to win Super Bowl XLIV in the BetOnline Sportsbook.

Denver Broncos

QB Kyle Orton

QB Chris Simms

RB Correll Buckhalter

RB LaMont Jordan

WR Jabar Gaffney

S Brian Dawkins

Analysis: The Broncos (8-8 SU, 4-11-1 ATS, 8-7-1 O/U) may have a rookie head coach this season in Josh McDaniel, but the franchise wisely added several veteran players that will make the first-year head coach’s life a lot easier.

Denver got an absolute steal by nabbing on of the top 5 safeties in the game in former Philadelphia Eagle Brian Dawkins. The Broncos also added another former Eagle in running back Correll Buckhalter that should make an immediate difference in his first season in Denver. I also like quarterback Kyle Orton who was traded to replace former starter Jay Cutler who clashed with McDaniel just soon after his arrival in Denver. For those that don’t remember, Chris Sims was once one of the best the up-and-coming young quarterbacks in the game as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before suffering a serious spleen injury two seasons ago. Veteran running back LaMont Jordan should help show Moreno the way as a rookie. The Broncos are +4000 to win Super Bowl XLIV in the BetOnline Sportsbook.

Philadelphia Eagles

Jason Peters

Ellis Hobbs

Analysis: The Eagles (9-6-1 SU, 10-6 ATS, 7-8-1 O/U in 2008) landed a Pro Bowl left tackle in veteran Jason Peters and added a four-year starter in veteran cornerback Ellis Hobbs, two solid moves that will help Philadelphia immediately in 2009.

However, Philadelphia also parted ways with several key free agents, which puts them in both categories for offseason free agent transactions, positive and negative.

Philadelphia added wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and running back LeSean McCoy through the draft but may have set themselves back by losing Pro Bowl-caliber veteran safety, Brian Dawkins, a player that many believed to be the heart and soul of Philadelphia’s defensive unit. The Eagles are +1600 to win Super Bowl XLIV in the BetOnline Sportsbook.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Torry Holt

Analysis: The Jaguars (5-11 SU, 7-9 ATS, 6-9-1 O/U in 2008) beat several idiotic teams (Philadelphia, Miami) in need of a veteran wide receiver to the punch when it comes to Torry Holt, a receiver that I still believe will top the 1,000-yard mark at least for the next two seasons or so. Now, if Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard can bounce back from an absolutely dismal 2008 season in which he was finally named the unquestioned starter, the Jags could be back in the postseason in 2009. The Jaguars are +3200 to win Super Bowl XLIV in the BetOnline Sportsbook.

Kansas City Chiefs

QB Matt Cassel

WR Bobby Engram

LB Mike Vrabel

G Mike Goff

Analysis: The Chiefs (2-14 SU, 8-8 ATS, 8-8 O/U in 2008) have gotten off to an excellent start in their transformation process under knowledgeable first-year GM Scott Pioli. Not only did the Chiefs make a good hire by naming former Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley as head coach, but Pioli brought in quarterback Matt Cassel who was a revelation for the New England Patriots last season while also adding dependable but not spectacular veterans Bobby Engram, Mike Vrabel and Mike Goff. While none of these players will immediately turn the lowly Chiefs into instant contenders, they will all help the franchise start to move in the right direction as they start to turn things around. The Chiefs are +6600 to win Super Bowl XLIV in the BetOnline Sportsbook.

Oakland Raiders

QB Jeff Garcia

Analysis: The Raiders (5-11 SU, 7-9 ATS, 6-9-1 O/U in 2008) pulled off one of the best free agent signing of any team in the league by adding veteran quarterback Jeff Garcia, a player I absolutely love despite his physical shortcomings.

I saw Garcia up close and personal when he took an underachieving Philadelphia Eagles team to the postseason after starting quarterback Donovan McNabb went down with a season-ending injury a couple of years back and I can unequivocally say that there may not be another quarterback in the entire league that can inspire an entire team to play above its talent and apparent capabilities they way Jeff Garcia can.

It’s kind of hard to not go all out for your team when you see the smallish Garcia bounce up off the turf time after time following a vicious hit, cheering guys on as if they had just made a Super Bowl-winning play.

The Raiders have a solid defensive unit, a spectacular core of running backs and now a veteran signal caller that knows how to get the job done when it counts most. Unfortunately, the Raiders are still run by out-dated owner Al Davis and have a first-year head coach that may be overmatched after looking overmatched as an interim replacement last season, not to mention a grossly overpaid former No. 1 overall draft pick at quarterback (JaMarcus Russell) that doesn’t have one iota of a clue.

However, knowing the sad-sack Raiders, Garcia may not get on the field to a large extent, no matter how much he can help them win ballgames right now. The Raiders are +10000 to win Super Bowl XLIV in the BetOnline Sportsbook.

NFC South: Battle Between Falcons and Saints

June 29, 2009

The NFL Training Camps haven’t even started but if BetOnline online betting fans are going to have a successful, profitable, 2009-2010 season, then they will need to start putting money down right now on which teams are going to win the respective divisions in the NFL.

The first division that we’ll take a look at is the NFC South where three teams are expected to battle for a divisional title and two actually look like they might have a shot at a conference title.

Let’s take a look at the teams who will be battling for the NFC South crown.

NFL: NFC South Preview To Win

1. New Orleans Saints +180 - – Drew Brees has had one of the greatest stretches in NFL history for a quarterback and should be even better this season when he gets a full strength Marques Colston back. If Devery Henderson can step it up, and Lance Moore continues to improve, the top three wide-outs in New Orleans might be the best in the NFL. Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas and former Pac-1o stand-out, Mike Bell, should provide a solid run game, but all gamblers know that the success of this team will depend on the schemes developed by Gregg Williams, the new defensive coordinator. Williams will have some parts to work with as the Saints have a talented front 7 that so far, with the exception of Jonathan Vilma, hasn’t lived up to it’s potential.

2. Carolina Panthers +225 – - Julius Peppers isn’t happy, but the DE hasn’t been all that good the past couple of years anyhow. A bigger issue is whether or not the Panthers’ front line can put enough pressure on the QBs in the NFC South, as a unit, to help their cornerbacks. Both Chris Gamble and Richard Marshall can get beat and the Saints and Falcons have the offensive weapons to do it. On offense, QB Jake Delhomme and WR Steve Smith are a year older. So is Muhsin Muhammed. This team could tail off big time after going 12 and 4 in 2008.

3. Atlanta Falcons +230 - – QB Matt Ryan and RB Michael Turner won’t surprise anyone this season and the Falcons really didn’t improve too much in the WR department during the off-season. The biggest issue, a major issue, is at linebacker where the Falcons lost two starters. That just isn’t going to cut it in a division where defense will ultimately rule the day.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers +450 - – The odds on the Bucs to win the NFC South this year should be roughly 30 to 1. Luke McCown will be the starter at quarterback in Bucland. Really? Luke McCown? The defense isn’t nearly what it used to be and the Bucs enter this season with a new head coach. This team could win 3 games…okay, maybe 4…in 2009.

Analysis: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have not shot to win this division unless injuries decimate the Panthers, Falcons and Saints. Out of those three teams, the Panthers have the least chance of winning the division because Delhomme and Smith are a year older. Eventually, those injuries, both players have suffered quite a few, should take their toll. The days of wine and roses for Carolina are probably over as their defense just isn’t dominating, the schedule is tougher in 2009, and they just don’t look ready for this season. Atlanta is the sexy pick of many bettors and analysts to win the NFC South in 2009, but they don’t have the defense. I just can’t see a team losing two starting linebackers picking it up enough to beat the rest of this division. That leaves the New Orleans Saints who happen to be the favorite in the sportsbook. The offense will once against be ranked in the top 3 in almost every significant category. It’s the defense that Saints’ fans, and gamblers, have been worried about for some time. Well, don’t worry. With Jabari Greer and Darren Sharper coming over to solidify the defensive backfield, and Jonathan Vilma anchoring the front seven at the middle linebacker position, the Saints should be very solid as new defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, has been a success everywhere he’s gone. Ride the favorite in the NFC South is what I say.

Pick: New Orleans Saints

Gutsy Safina takes on Liscicki for a spot in the semis

June 29, 2009

London, England – World No.1 Dinara Safina is a player that has coasted under the radar at Wimbledon. After the Williams sisters Viktoria Azarenka is the third favourite for the title, ahead of Safina. The bookie’s cast is somewhat surprising given that Azarenka has never reached a Grand Slam final. Safina has, albeit she failed three times. Therein lies the rub. Or part of it.

Safina’s dislike for grass is well known, evinced by her results on the surface, and it most likely had a hand on the market on the women’s field . Yet Safina has looked good through the early rounds and she reaches the second week of action at the All England Club. She played a gutsy R16 match against former Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo today to reach her first-ever quarterfinal.

Tennis Betting Line: Dinara Safina -300 Sabine Lisicki +200

Match Time: 06:00 A.M. Eastern Time Tuesday June 30 2009

Dinara Safina -300: Top seed Dinara Safina enters this matchup as the firm favourite, listed at BetOnline Sportsbook at -300. She is 37-8 on the season with two WTA singles titles – Rome and Madrid. Her highlights this season include runner-up finishes at the Aussie Open, French Open, Sydney and Stuttgart. In her Wimbledon warm up event at s’Hertogenbosch, she reached the semis (l. to Tamarine Tanasugarin).

In seven prior visits to Wimbledon, Safina’s best result was a R32 in 2006 and 2008. Last year, she played a three-set thriller, losing to Shahar Peer 7-5, 6-7(4), 8-6. In reaching the quarterfinals, Safina is enjoying her best outing here. She is on the verge of a spot in the semis but Frenchwoman Sabine Lisicki stands in her way.

Sabine Lisicki +200: French teenager Sabine Lisicki is a fast-rising tennis sensation and a player tennis bettors should spot. The No.41 ranked Lisicki is 17-10 on the season with one title – Charleston. Her highlights include a semi-final in Memphis and quarterfinal in Estoril. In her warm-up event in Eastbourne, she fell at the first hurdle, losing to Samantha Stosur 6-2, 6-1.

Tennis Betting Verdict: Dinara Safina is the firm favourite and worth the bet. She has experience at this level and it should take her to her first-ever semis at the All England Club. Lisicki will be a tough opponent though and I don’t expect her to fold easily. She topped tournament favourite Caroline Wozniacki in the R16 today, beating the Dane 6-4, 6-4 to hand the tournament one of the biggest upsets in the second week. Dinara would do well not to underestimate the French teen. Expect a close three-setter with Safina persevering.

Tennis Free Picks: Safina in three sets

Schiavone and Dementieva battle for a spot in the semis

June 29, 2009

London, Great Britain – Francesca Schiavone and Elena Dementieva reached the quarterfinals today after they emerged triumphant in the R16. The Italian Schiavone topped Virginie Razzano 6-2, 7-6(1) to book her first-ever quarterfinal at Wimbledon, meanwhile, Russian Elena Dementieva (the fourth seed) advanced in straight easy sets over compatriot Elena Vesnina. BetOnline Sportsbook already has tennis odds available on the quarterfinals so check out the action.

Tennis Betting Line: Francesca Schiavone +225 Elena Dementieva -350

Match Time: 06:00 A.M. Eastern Time Tuesday June 30 2009

Elena Dementieva -350: The Russian Elena Dementieva was once a semi-finalist at Wimbledon. She enters this match as the firm favourite, listed at -350 at BetOnline Sportsbook. The women’s market is utterly dominated by the Williams sisters, the underlying thought: the Wimbledon title is theirs to lose – Venuses more so than Serena. Elena Dementieva is a dangerous floater and viable challenger for the title. She falls in Serena Williams half of the draw so she might have to face one of the tournament favourites to reach the title match. For now, Schiavone stands in her way and they are level 4-4 in head-to-heads.

Francesca Schiavone +225: Considering Schiavone and Dementieva are level 4-4, might she be a bit underestimated by the bookies. She enters with a decided puppy tag of +225. The fact is that it was two years ago in Zurich when Schiavone last beat Dementieva. They have also never played on grass and Schiavone has never been to the Wimby quarters. For all these parts, she is the underdog. Schiavone had a relatively easy path to the final eight. The highest seed she faced was 26th seed Virginie Razzano in the last 16.

Tennis Betting Verdict: Schiavone outperformed the market to reach the quarters but she will be hard pressed to do so again in her coming match. Though she has an encouraging mark against Dementieva, Schiavone entered the tournament on the heels of a mediocre 16-14 season. The fact that she had an easy path I believe helped her reach the final eight. Dementieva meanwhile is one of the most on-form players this season and the better play to reach the semis. She is the more experienced player in clutch matches with high stakes on the line. Nothing, save for a spot in the Wimby final, would be a higher stake match than this quarterfinal with a spot in the Wimby semis.

Tennis Free Picks: Dementieva in straight sets

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