RealClearSports Blog

November 3, 2009

Penguins Hold Down Top Spot in RCS NHL Power Ranking Averages

By Jeff Briggs

nov%203.jpgThe RCS NHL Power Ranking Averages combine seven other sites' power rankings to make the most balanced and unbiased grade possible, and to offer the most accurate look at the state of the NHL on a weekly basis.

As they have been all season, the Penguins remain the No. 1 team in the RCS NHL Power Ranking Averages. Rising fast in the rankings was the San Jose Sharks, who moved up from 7th to 4th this week, but improved their RCS Average by an impressive amount, from 8.17 to 3.57. The Sharks nabbed the top ranking from two sites, CBS and TSN.

The team moving up the most in the rankings was the Islanders, who rose from 29th to 23rd. Taking the biggest drop this week was the Flames, who fell from 5th to 11th.

For the first week of the season the Maple Leafs are not the unanimous choice as the last place team among the other sites. ESPN and Sports Illustrated both ranked the disappointing Hurricanes in 30th place this week.

The Canucks have the widest range of rankings, placed as high as 9th by CBS and as low as 20th by Fox.

Celtics No. 1 in RCS NBA Power Ranking Averages

By Jeff Briggs

nov3.jpgThe RCS NBA Power Ranking Averages combine seven* other sites' power rankings to make the most balanced and unbiased grade possible, and to offer the most accurate look at the state of the NHL on a weekly basis.

After one week of play the Celtics are the new No. 1 team in the RCS NBA Power Ranking Averages.

The Cavaliers, struggling to mesh for the first few games of the season dropped from 3rd to 10th in the rankings this week. Also falling were the Hornets, who slipped from 11th to 18th.

The hottest team in the rankings is the undefeated Heat, who shot up the rankings, going from 19th all the way up to 7th.

At the bottom of the rankings, the Nets take over the 30th position with an 0-4 record, and are not ranked higher than 29th by any of the sites.

Not surprisingly at this point in the season, the sites that compose the RCS Averages have varying opinions on some teams. The Cavs are ranked as high as 5th and as low as 15th, and the Jazz range from 8th to 17th. The Knicks have the most discrepancy in their rankings: as high as 19th while also slotted dead-last (30th) by Sports Illustrated. As the season goes on and there are more games and data, the various rankings will converge and we will have a better idea of where the real strength and weakness lies within the league.

*Fox and USA Today did not have up to date rankings at the time this blog post was published, so only five sites power rankings were used to create the RCS Averages.

UPDATE: Fox Sports published their rankings now, so numbers in this post may not accurately reflect the numbers in the actual RCS Averages.

November 2, 2009

The Week in Sports Columns, Vol. XXXXII

By Tanner Munroe

A look back at the week that was in sports, through the voices that tell the stories. Did we miss a column? Let us know in the comments.

Top Columns of the Week, October 26 to November 1, 2009

1. Players Finally Take Control of NHLPA – Bruce Arthur, National Post

2. Donaghy's Botched Book Deal Could Help NBA – Kevin Hench, Fox Sports

3. In Soccer, It's Manchester Divided – Dave Kansas, Wall Street Journal

4. This Year, SEC Football Is Overrated - Gregg Doyel, CBS Sports

5. It's Truly Time for Big Baby to Grow Up – Bob Ryan, Boston Globe

6. Bradford Already Biggest Story of NFL Draft – Jake Trotter, Oklahoman

7. Selig Errs With Free Pass for McGwire – Christine Brennan, USA Today

8. Dodgers Will Get Hurt in This Divorce – T.J. Simers, Los Angeles Times

9. Replay Talk Not Even a Close Call – Chris De Luca, Chicago Sun Times

10. Redskins in State of Complete Disarray - Mike Wise, Washington Post

October 30, 2009

Pay Homage to Gamblor - Week 8

By Jeff Briggs

Vegas got absolutely destroyed last week. They just can’t make spreads big enough. Favorites went 10-2-1 last week. That is ridiculous. This week, Vegas gets a small break, as the Lions and Rams are playing each other, and the Bucs have a bye, taking three games in which the favorite would almost assuredly cover off the board. What is really killing the books this year is the ease of teaser bets. The bet I made mention of last week (Chargers, Jets, and Eagles) not only would have won as a teaser, but also would have won as a straight parlay, and this is not an uncommon occurrence. We all probably should have been betting millions on the NFL this season.

Of course, these things all have a way of fixing themselves, which means next year is probably primed for the most unpredictable and wacky NFL season in recent memory. Who knows what can be done to counteract this season? Maybe the ultimate in parity, and no team will go better than 10-6, or worse than 6-10.

Last week: 9-3-1
Season: 56-46-1
Lock of the week: 6-1

Home team in CAPS

Broncos (+3.5) over RAVENS
The Broncos are 6-0 against the spread. Even though a large part of me thinks the Ravens are going to win this one, the Broncos have to be the pick when they are the underdog. They keep beating expectations and there is no reason they won’t do it again this week.

BEARS (-12.5) over Browns
The Bears got embarrassed last week and have the perfect opponent on which to take out their frustrations, the Browns. Cleveland fans might start cheering for Brett Ratliff to be the starting QB before this season is over as more evidence mounts that Eric Mangini may have been the worst hire in the history of the NFL. It’s like a restaurant hiring a manager who just got fired from his last job for angering all the waiters and cooks while alienating customers, driving away business, and spitting in the food.

Texans (-3.5) over BILLS
The Bills are incredibly confusing. Two straight weeks they’ve been outplayed and won; it’s like try as they might to be bad and get a good draft pick, they somehow always end up 7-9.

Continue reading "Pay Homage to Gamblor - Week 8" »

October 29, 2009

NFL Week 8 Fantasy Studs & Duds

By Tanner Munroe

Each week Studs & Duds will take a look at the best and worst match-ups from around the NFL and choose four players that could mean the difference between fantasy success and failure.

Based on the scoring system established by Yahoo!’s Flames and Lames, Studs and Duds continued to struggle last week. After going 4-4 in the picks last week, S&D’s season record now stands at 28-28. Do you have some of your own Studs and Duds in mind? If so, put your picks and predictions (no explanation for picks necessary) in the comment section below and see if you can beat us at our own game.

Studs

David Garrard / QB / Jacksonville Jaguars - (vs. Titans) The Titans have by far the worst pass defense in the NFL, so it’s almost guaranteed that Garrard will put up big numbers this week. Tennessee allows over 310 passing yards per game, and has given up 19 touchdowns through the air. The main reason it’s easy to assume that Garrard will dominate in this game, is that he’s already dominated the Titans this year. In the last match-up he had 323 passing yards to go along with three touchdown passes. Make sure to plug him into your lineups, as the numbers he’s likely to put up could easily carry you to a victory.
Prediction: 28-41, 280 passing yards, 2 total touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 21 rushing yards

Steve Smith / WR / Carolina Panthers - (vs. Cardinals) Smith finally showed signs of life last week against a pretty solid pass D in Buffalo. He could easily carry over his success into his match-up against the Cardinals. As I said last week, Arizona currently has the top ranked rush D in the league. That means the Panthers will have to stick to the air. With Arizona currently sporting the 29th ranked pass defense in the league, a very productive game out of Smith is likely. Smith has been far too inconsistent this year for his talent level, but you can be sure that this week will be the start of a string of solid games for the receiver.
Prediction: 9 receptions, 98 receiving yards, 1 touchdown

Matt Forte / RB / Chicago Bears - (vs. Browns) Forte has been one of the biggest disappointments of the year so far, but he should put a smile on his owners' faces after this weeks match-up against Cleveland. The Browns are allowing over 170 rushing yards per game and have also given up 10 rushing scores. Look for Forte to reestablish himself as one of the top backs in the NFL, as he should easily take advantage of this very favorable match-up.
Prediction: 26 carries, 110 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 25 receiving yards, 2 total touchdowns

Continue reading "NFL Week 8 Fantasy Studs & Duds" »

October 28, 2009

Saints Remain No. 1 in RCS NFL Power Ranking Averages

By Jeff Briggs

week%208.jpgThe RCS NFL Power Ranking Averages combine eight* other sites' power rankings to make the most balanced and unbiased grade possible, and to offer the most accurate look at the state of the NFL on a weekly basis.

The New Orleans Saints stay on top of the RCS NFL Power Ranking Averages this week, followed by the two other remaining undefeated teams, the Colts and the Broncos, at second and third respectively.

This week sees some new action among the top ten teams. The Cardinals enter the top ten for the first time since the mid summer rankings at No. 8, and the Cowboys enter at No. 10, making their first appearance of the season. Falling out of the top ten for the first time all season is the Falcons, who dropped from 7th to 13th.

Apart from being new entrants to the top ten, the Cowboys and Cardinals are also the hottest teams in the rankings. Both teams moved up six spots, with the Cardinals rising from 14th to 8th; while the Cowboys went from 16th to 10th. Dropping the furthest this week is the Bears, who fell from 11th to 18th after being embarrassed by the Bengals.

The bottom of the rankings remain much the same as last week, with the Rams holding down dead last, but followed closely by the winless Buccaneers and Titans.

There is no clear game of the week as defined by the rankings this week, but several solid options:
At 1 PM - #8 Giants @ #11 Eagles AND #3 Broncos @ #14 Ravens
Sunday Night: #4 Vikings @ #11 Packers
Monday Night: #13 Falcons @ #1 Saints
Check to see if you get either of the 1 PM games - unfortunately, very few areas get both.

Division Overall average rankings:

1. AFC North - 13.63
2. NFC East - 14.41
3. NFC North - 15.22
4. AFC East - 15.51
5. NFC South - 17.00
6. AFC South - 17.22
7. AFC West - 18.47
8. NFC West - 20.53

October 27, 2009

Penguins Still on Top of NHL Power Ranking Averages

By Jeff Briggs

oct27.jpgThe RCS NHL Power Ranking Averages combine six other sites' power rankings to make the most balanced and unbiased grade possible, and to offer the most accurate look at the state of the NHL on a weekly basis.

The Penguins remain the top team in the RCS NHL Power Ranking Averages this week in a nearly unanimous decision. In second and third are two teams that started the season with lower expectations but have performed and moved up in the rankings each week, the Avalanche and Sabres.

Teams continue to shuffle up and down the ranking week by week. Moving up the most spots this week was the Canucks, who rose from 22nd to 15th, and the Kings, who dropped the most spots in the rankings last week, but this week climbed from 20th to 10th. Dropping in the rankings was the Trashers, who fell ten spots from 9th to 19th, but they did not slip the furthest in this week's rankings. That honor belongs to the Blue Jackets, who fell from 4th all the way down to 17th.

Many teams still have a wide range of rankings from the different sites used to compose the RCS Averages, but no where is that difference more pronounced than with the Phoenix Coyotes. The Coyotes are ranked as high as third by TSN and as low as 20th by CBS. At 6-4 and fourth in the Pacific Division, the ranking of third seems particularly peculiar.

October 26, 2009

The Week in Sports Columns, Vol. XXXXI

By Tanner Munroe

A look back at the week that was in sports, through the voices that tell the stories. Did we miss a column? Let us know in the comments.

Top Columns of the Week, October 19 to October 25, 2009

1. Politicians, Don't Worry About BCS – Drew Sharp, Detroit Free Press

2. Let Me First Apologize to Rush Limbaugh – Jason Whitlock, Fox Sports

3. Another Sex Scandal At ESPN – David Whitley, FanHouse

4. A Campus and a Family Mourn for Jasper Howard - Jeff Jacobs, Hartford Courant

5. Cuban Makes Case for Steroids – Robert Dvorchak, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

6. Broncos Bucking NFL Trends – Nick Canepa, San Diego Union-Tribune

7. A Full-On Feud Between Isiah and Magic – Ian Thomsen, Sports Illustrated

8. Manny Is Back to Being Manny – Ramona Shelburne, Los Angeles Daily News

9. Why Aren't the Eagles Using Vick – Bob Ford, Philadelphia Inquirer

10. Something Foul With SEC Refs - Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel

October 23, 2009

Pay Homage to Gamblor - Week 7

By Jeff Briggs

Last week, the awfulest of the awful teams fought back. The Rams, Browns, Raiders, and Chiefs all covered their spreads. Granted, the Rams were playing the also awful Jags, and the Chiefs the train wreck that is the Washington Redskins, but still, the days of automatically betting against these four teams may be over. OR, Vegas is going to adjust and stop moving lines higher and higher when these teams are involved. I hope they choose the second option. We will examine at the end of the picks.

With another 8-6 week I remain just above .500 on the season. Granted, unlike some other pick sets, it’s not 66%, but it also didn’t go 4-10 last week.

Last week: 8-6
Season: 47-43
Lock of the week: 5-1

Home team in CAPS

Chargers (-5) over CHIEFS
When everyone starts questioning the Chargers and starts wondering if they have what it takes they get a cupcake thrown at them. San Diego will absolutely dismantle the Chiefs.

Colts (-13.5) over RAMS
Colts by less than two touchdowns over the Rams? Yes please. I’d take the Colts favored by as much as 24 before I blinked.

BENGALS (-1) over Bears
Cedric Benson’s revenge! Or, will the Bears actually be the ones looking for revenge on Benson for underperforming during his time in Chicago?

Continue reading "Pay Homage to Gamblor - Week 7" »

October 22, 2009

NFL Week 6 Fantasy Studs & Duds

By Tanner Munroe

Each week Studs & Duds will take a look at the best and worst match-ups from around the NFL and choose four players that could mean the difference between fantasy success and failure.

Based on the scoring system established by Yahoo!’s Flames and Lames, Studs and Duds hit rock bottom in week six. After getting just one of out eight picks correct last week, S&D’s season record now stands at 24-24. Do you have some of your own Studs and Duds in mind? If so, put your picks and predictions (no explanation for picks necessary) in the comment section below and see if you can beat us at our own game.

Studs

Matt Ryan / QB / Atlanta Falcons - (vs. Cowboys) Ryan has put up solid numbers so far this year, but for some reason is still undervalued by plenty of fantasy owners. Week seven should be the turning point though, as his match-up against the Cowboys will likely cement his status as a must-start the rest of the season. Dallas allows over 251 passing ypg, and has looked terrible defending the pass this year. With the excellent receiving options that Ryan has –Tony Gonzalez, Roddy White – it’s not hard to imagine a huge game from the young QB.
Prediction: 20-34, 265 passing yards, 2 total touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 5 rushing yards

Steve Smith / WR / New York Giants - (vs. Cardinals) The Giants are coming off their first loss of the season last week, so it won’t be surprising if they give home fans something to cheer about by crushing the Cardinals. Arizona currently has the best rush D in the league to go along with the second to worst pass D. That should lead to the G-Men sticking to the air game for most of the day. If that’s the case, then Smith owners will be handsomely rewarded for sticking with their guy after a very shaky past two weeks. With Smith being one of Eli Manning’s favorite targets this year, a monster game may be in order as the Giants look to reestablish themselves as one of the top teams in the NFL.
Prediction: 7 receptions, 101 receiving yards, 1 touchdown

Joseph Addai / RB / Indianapolis Colts - (vs. Rams) Addai has been somewhat of an enigma so far this season. He has run well and seems to be healthy, but has yet to recapture the game-breaking ability that saw him become a top fantasy RB in years past. One of the main reasons contributing to his early mediocrity is backup Donald Brown stealing around 10 carries a game from him. However, this week could help propel him back into the hearts of fantasy owners. Indy is coming off their bye week, so Addai should be 100% healthy against the Rams. St. Louis has the 26th ranked rush D, so there will be plenty of carries to go around as the Colts should win this game with ease. You can expect Addai to receive around 20 carries, which could easily lead to him surpassing the century mark for the first time this year.
Prediction: 22 carries, 123 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 32 receiving yards, 2 total touchdowns

Continue reading "NFL Week 6 Fantasy Studs & Duds" »

Why Phillies Fans (and Likely All Fans in General) are Intolerable

By Jeff Briggs

phillies%20idiot.jpg
I’ve lived in Philly for the past 2+ years, so maybe it’s just because of proximity, but Philly fans are insufferable. When they were losing it was constant negativity. Then they won one World Series and fans appropriately celebrated. I understand how sweet the taste of victory must be after so many years of defeat, but with success in this postseason they are getting worse. It’s clear that if the Phillies win the World Series again their fans are going to become unbearable.

I mean, they already went out and partied in the streets after winning the NLCS (which in itself brings up another question, of why people were partying so hard in the streets after just winning the pennant). If the Phils win the World Series the number of people yelling "Phillies #1!!!! J Roll!!!! Wooo!" is going to drive me crazy. Maybe I just hate sports fans and people in general, but I don’t get the common reaction after a championship. I understand maybe partying in the streets a little bit, but I don't understand the need to climb traffic lights. You know what I'll do if one of my teams wins their respective championship? Maybe yell, “YES” and then be done with it. After that I will drink some victory beers and be happy for anywhere from a week to a month.

The common reaction to such a sentiment, and it is one Philadelphia fans love to have all the time when talking to other sports fans, is “we have more passion and care more than other fans.” Sorry, no, that’s not true. It's because you are looking for any excuse to act like jackasses. And after they win the World Series (if they do), Philly fans are going to be just as pompous as Boston fans and New York fans were before them.

October 21, 2009

Saints New No. 1 in RCS NFL Power Ranking Averages

By Jeff Briggs

week%207.jpg.jpgThe RCS NFL Power Ranking Averages combine eight* other sites' power rankings to make the most balanced and unbiased grade possible, and to offer the most accurate look at the state of the NFL on a weekly basis.

After beating last week's top team, the Giants, the Saints have taken over the number one spot in the RCS NFL Power Ranking Averages. The top five is composed of the same five teams from last week, with New York’s loss dropping them from first to fifth.

Moving the most spots in the rankings this week was the Jets, who, after losing three straight games have dropped from 10th to 17th. By virtue of their win over the Eagles on Sunday, the Raiders jumped up the most spots this week, from 30th to 25th.

At the bottom of the rankings, three teams received votes for 32nd place: the Rams, Buccaneers, and Titans, with the Rams holding down the last spot for yet another week.

Game of the Week by Rankings: #3 Minnesota Vikings @ #8 Pittsburgh Steelers

Division Overall average rankings:

1. NFC North - 13.82
2. AFC North - 14.57
3. NFC East - 14.82
4. NFC South - 15.19
5. AFC East - 16.38
6. AFC South - 18.00
7. AFC West - 18.32
8. NFC West - 20.94

It appears the dominance of the NFC East may be over, as for the first week this season they are not the strongest division in the RCS Averages. An overall stronger group of teams has propelled both the NFC and AFC North division above the once heralded NFC East.

October 20, 2009

Penguins Remain Atop of Fluid NHL Power Ranking Averages

By Jeff Briggs

oct-20.jpgThe RCS NHL Power Ranking Averages combine five* other sites' power rankings to make the most balanced and unbiased grade possible, and to offer the most accurate look at the state of the NHL on a weekly basis.

UPDATE: SI has now published their rankings and they have been added to the RCS Averages.

The Penguins edged out the Rangers to remain the No. 1 team in the RCS NHL Power Ranking Averages, but that's about the only thing that stayed the same compared to last week's rankings. Five teams fell out of the top ten as multiple teams moved several spots up or down the rankings.

Ten teams moved at least five spots up or down from last week. The team moving up the most spots this week is the Phoenix Coyotes, who rose from No. 16 up to No. 5. Slipping the most spots this week are the LA Kings, who fell from 5th all the way down to 19th.

With the season still early, and the various ranking sites having different methodology, there are quite a few large discrepancies within the rankings. Two examples: the Thrashers are ranked as high as 5th and as low as 19th; and the Sharks rankings range from second to 18th.

One thing that is consistent in the rankings, the Maple Leafs are unanimously ranked dead last for the second week in a row.

*SI and Yahoo! have yet to come out with their rankings for the week at the time this post was published.

October 19, 2009

The Week in Sports Columns, Vol. XXXX

By Tanner Munroe

A look back at the week that was in sports, through the voices that tell the stories. Did we miss a column? Let us know in the comments.

Top Columns of the Week, October 12 to October 18, 2009

1. Everyone Answers for Mistakes -- Except Officials – John Feinstein, Washington Post

2. Limbaugh Rejection is Simple Hypocrisy – Tom Knott, Washington Times

3. Candlestick Stood Firm On Shaky Ground – David Whitley, FanHouse

4. Hamels Beginning to Look Like an Ex-Ace - Phil Sheridan, Philadelphia Inquirer

5. Baseball Needs Yankees vs. Dodgers – William Rhoden, New York Times

6. Meyer Lost As Soon As He Played Tebow – Gregg Doyel, CBS Sports

7. Davies Needs to Be a Warrior Again – Grant Wahl, Sports Illustrated

8. At Notre Dame, Close Isn't Enough – Bob Kravitz, Indianapolis Star

9. The Race Card, Football and Me – Rush Limbaugh, Wall Street Journal

10. Give NBA Players a Step, They'll Take Many More - Ray Ratto, CBS Sports

October 16, 2009

Pay Homage to Gamblor - Week 6

By Jeff Briggs

Is parity in the NFL dead? In past years, double-digit spreads were a rare occurrence. Only when the best of the best played the bottom feeders would Vegas throw up spreads of 10, 12, or15 points. This season we see those spreads three to five times every week, and for good reason: eight teams are averaging double-digit losses each week.

The Bucs lose by 14.4 points per game, the Browns lose by 13.2, the Lions by 11.8, the Panthers by 11.75, Titans by 11, and the Chiefs by 10.8. And the Browns, Lions, and Panthers have all won a game.

The lowly Raiders lose by an average of 16.2 points per game, and they also have a win -- take that out and they are losing by an average of 21 points per game. But that still wouldn’t be the worst in the league. The Rams are losing by an average of 22.4 points per game.

Meanwhile, the Saints are winning games by an average of 20.25 points. These are college numbers, these are not supposed to be occurring in the NFL. Yes, I’m sure these numbers will balance out a little bit as the season goes on and more horrible teams play each other and the Saints find a team that can challenge them (like this week with the Giants).

Last week: 8-6
Season: 39-37
Lock of the week: 4-1

Home team in CAPS

Chiefs (+6.5) over REDSKINS
If you haven’t figured it out by now, the Redskins don’t win games by large margins. It doesn’t happen. Those Rams that lose by 22ppg – they lost by just two points to the Redskins. Kudos to Skins CB Carlos Rogers for calling out ownership in D.C.; I expect the fans at FedEx to cheer at first mention of his name this week.

BENGALS (-5) over Texans
Expect the Bengals to finally get a win that doesn’t come in the last minute of the game.

STEELERS (-14) over Browns
The Steelers look to get Troy Polamalu back and stop giving up 4th quarter comeback runs by their opponents. Something else that might help that: playing the Browns. Sure, the Browns won last week, but if any win ever should not go in the W column, it was that game against Buffalo. They completed two passes! TWO! This is a crazy thing to say, but the Browns and Raiders might be two of the worst one-win teams in the history of football.

Continue reading "Pay Homage to Gamblor - Week 6" »

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