The Buffalo Bills will travel on a short week to face the Cleveland Browns in an NFL pro football game scheduled for Thursday night.Kick off time from Cleveland is scheduled for 8:25PM Eastern Time with national television coverage provided by NFL Network. Those looking for NFL wagering online information can find places that offer the best Sportsbook Bonus.The betting odds from this NFL game have the home team Cleveland Browns favored by -4 points with an over under line set at 41 points. Those who play on Cleveland on the money line will lay -210 odds with Buffalo returning +175 odds on the money line.Buffalo improved to 2-2 on the season following a 23-20 home victory in week four against the Baltimore Ravens as a +3 ½ point betting odds underdog. The game finished at under 45 points.The Bills jumped out to the 20-7 lead at the half. The team put up 350 yards of offense and ran effectively with 203 yards on the ground on 55 carries. Rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel hit on 10 of 22 throws for 167 yards with a touchdown and two picks. Fred Jackson had 87 rushing yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. Buffalo will need to be better than 1 of 4 inside the red zone. On defense they limited the Ravens run game to just 24 yards on nine attemps. They allowed 347 yards passing with two touchdowns to Joe Flacco but win this game because the Buffalo defense picked off five passes.Cleveland is 2-2 in the 2013 campaign following a 17-6 home victory last week to the Cincinnati Bengals as a +3 ½ point betting odds underdog. The total finished at under 42 ½ points. The Browns limited the Bengals to just a field goal in each half.The team produced 336 offensive yards and ran for 89 yards on 30 carries. Quarterback Brian Hoyer hit on 25 of 38 throws for 269 yards and two touchdowns. On defense the team held the Bengals to 266 yards of offense and won the turnover battle by a +2 margin. Cleveland allowed no Bengals touchdowns in their two red zone tries.
This week sees an entirely different situation now however, as the Champions’ League kicks back into action and Tuesday evening sees a reprised clash between two of the form teams in Europe as Napoli return to London to take on Arsenal once more. Rafa Benitez’s Neopolitan Azzuri will offer a strong challenge to the Gunners, but fired up by their strong league form and victory on Match Day One in Marseille, Wenger’s team will be confident of a different result.Benitez has had strong start to the Serie A campaign in Campnia, and his astute signings during the summer transfer window have complemented the nucleus of the squad he inherited. When Edinson Cavani left Napoli, it was vital for the club to invest the incoming money wisely. Three players were brought in from Real Madrid, with Callejon and Abiol joining striker Gonzalo Higuain. Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina was also secured on a year’s long loan. The success of the squad, and the way in which Benitez has blended the elements together is now producing good rewards as they are strongly placed in Serie A and already have a a victory over Borussia Dortmund in their pockets from Match Day One.It’s certainly true that Arsene Wenger will not be taking the match lightly, and will be aware that his team will need to be on its mettle to achieve the desired victory. As they sit atop the Premier League however, he’ll also be aware that there couldn’t really be a much better time – despite a lengthy injury list – for the clash. With Mesut Ozil apparently fitting seamlessly into the Arsenal structure, Giroud scoring and leading the line with aplomb, plus the perhaps unexpected bonus of Aaron Ramsey’s goals and stellar performances the Gunners are certainly firing on all cylinders at the moment. Not only are the team scoring goals however, they also look a tighter unit further back. The addition of the returning Flamini has given the team security and the midfield the confidence to move forward with the belief that there’s someone at home, watching the back door.It’s a strange twist for the north London team from the pre-season games and indeed the first game of the season when the Gunners were humbled at home by Aston Villa, with Christian Benteke bullying the centre back pair of Koscielny and Mertersacker. Knitting together with Flamini, the Franco-German alliance now looks a unit comparable to almost anything in the league.Two things appear certain about the Napoli game. Firstly, it will be competitive, and secondly it will go a long way towards deciding the fate of the group. Should Napoli take three points from the game, qualification will become an uphill struggle for the Gunners; even a point would complicate the process. Given the form and confidence coursing through the team at the moment though, I expect the Gunners to take a victory, possibly by a 3-1 margin.
The last thing Chelsea can afford here in this UEFA Champions League group stage game in Romania on Tuesday is a loss but the same exact thing can be said about hosts Steaua Bucharest.Both clubs were defeated in their Group E openers two weeks ago and a loss here for either side would put them so far behind the pack that nothing short of near-perfection would be necessary in their remaining four matches to try to find a way to advance to the knockout stage.These two teams—who both play in their respective country’s capitals—are somewhat familiar with each other after having met in the third round of the UEFA Europa League this past March with both sides holding serve on their home turf.Chelsea would eventually go on to win the tournament, defeating Benfica, 2-1 in the final on May 15 in Amsterdam.When these two met in the Romanian capital of Bucharest on March 7, Steaua and goalkeeper Ciprian Tătăruşanu shut out the Blues, 1-0 in a very impressive performance by the home team and an extremely lackluster one by the boys from West London.But the English Premier League representatives did roll to a 3-1 win on the return leg a week later at Stamford Bridge on goals by John Terry, Juan Mata and Fernando Torres to narrowly win the series on aggregate (3-2).With a surprise home loss to FC Basel in the tournament still fresh on their minds heading into this one, expect the Blues to be on their best behavior for all 90 minutes here against the upstart Roș-Albaștrii.Steaua (6-1-0) currently sits in first place in the Liga I Bergenbier table and has scored 19 goals and allowed just five so far in Romania’s top flight of football behind coach Laurențiu Reghecampf.Both goal scorers for the Roș-Albaștrii against Chelsea last year—Raul Rusescu (Sevilla) and Vlad Chiriches (Tottenham Hotspur)—are no longer with the club but Sampdoria-loanee Federico Piovaccari (4 goals) has been a pleasant surprise at forward so far for Steaua.Adrian Popa (3 goals), Leandro Tatu, Adrian Cristea and Nicolae Stanciu also feature in the Steaua attack while Łukasz Szukala, Iasmin Latovlevici and Florin Gardoş help hold down the defense in front of dependable goalkeeper Tătăruşanu.Due to injuries, Steaua will be without center forward Stefan Nikolic and winger Alexandru Chipciu for this first meeting in this group with the Blues.Steaua lost its Group E opener to FC Schalke, 3-0 in Germany and is average against teams from England in international play but more than above average against them when playing at home in Bucharest.Chelsea sits in fourth place in the Premier League table and is coming off a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Spurs at White Hart Lane on Saturday. The Blues were upset in their Champions League group opener Stamford Bridge, 2-1, by Swiss side FC Basel on late goals from Mohamed Salah and Marco Streller.The big news coming out of the Blues camp for this game is that playmaking midfielder Mata will be indeed getting the start after his performance after coming in for the second half against Spurs in the past weekend’s London derby and playing quite admirably.“This is the way players have to tell me they want to be in my team,” Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said in the post-match press conference at Tottenham. “I sometimes make a mistake as a manager, but I make my decisions on what I see in training and on the pitch. I liked what Mata did against Swindon in the Capital One Cup and I put him on the bench today.”“Now I like what I see when he plays for 45 minutes. I’m a very happy manager when I see Juan Mata playing like this. I can tell you now that he will play against Steaua Bucharest in the Champions League on Tuesday—he deserves that chance. I want my players to tell me they want to play. Juan told me that.”So it seems that maybe Mourinho’s stubborn side is prepared to give in to the fact that the club’s two-time Player of the Year might actually deserve a spot in a starting XI which has painfully shown to have a bit of a problem scoring goals this calendar year.And with the way he’s handled the Mata situation, maybe Chelsea fans now know just a little bit how Real Madrid fans might have felt at times last season under the leadership of the self-anointed Special One.Anyway, who starts around Mata is anyone’s guess but with a win being so important in this one, there’s no doubt Petr Čech will be the Blues goalkeeper against Steaua. And Samuel Eto’o may get the nod at striker after Torres’s emotional red-card game in North London just three days earlier.One guy who definitely won’t be part of the plan for Chelsea is defensive midfielder Marco van Ginkel who is out for six months after having surgery last week to repair a cruciate knee ligament injury.Chelsea heads into this match ranked a deceptive No. 4 in the latest UEFA club rankings with Steaua checking in at No. 54, but this disparity is quite deceiving and the Romanians are just as desperate as the Blues and have already proven in 2013 that they can beat this team in this city.Who knows where the Blues will sit in the group standings when these two clubs meet for the return leg at Stamford Bridge on Dec. 11, but a loss or even a draw here would surely light a fire under the critics again and hamstring Chelsea for the duration of group play.
Basel and Schalke will each be aiming to add to their winning starts in the Champions League when they meet on Tuesday.St Jakob Park in Switzerland will play host to the fixture and the home side go into the contest in good form, having not lost any of their last 10 matches in all competitions, while they sprung a surprise in their Group E opener.Murat Yakin’s side travelled to Chelsea with many expecting a comfortable home win, but goals from Mohamed Salah and Marco Streller in the final 20 minutes saw the Swiss side leave with three points.Schalke also won on matchday one, beating Steaua Bucharest 3-0 at home, but drew 3-3 with Hoffenheim at the weekend after a weak second half.The Gelsenkirchen-based club have not impressed defensively in the Bundesliga so far this season, conceding 16 goals in their opening seven matches. Four of those came in a 4-0 home loss to Bayern Munich on September 21 - their worst defeat at their own stadium in 32 years.Jens Keller can take solace in the fact that Schalke have only lost one of their last 11 away matches in Europe, with the Germans winning two and drawing another pair last season.Basel had won six matches in a row before Saturday's 2-2 draw with Sion, while that clash also yielded a potentially costly defensive injury as Fabian Schar was carried off with a knee injury.The problem is not as serious as first thought, but the Switzerland international is a doubt for Tuesday.They do have some good news on the injury front, however. Matias Delgado, Taulant Xhaka both returned to action against Sion, while Geoffrey Serey Die and Arlind Ajeti could make comebacks.Keller has significantly more to contend with. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Christian Fuchs (all knee) are definitely out, with Ralf Fahrmann (foot) and Julian Draxler (knee) doubtful.According to reports in Germany, midfielder Jermaine Jones has been suspended by the club after a run of substandard performances, though the USA midfielder will definitely not feature regardless, as he is set for knee surgery.
UEFA champions league
FC Basel vs Schalke 04
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2013
Venue : St Jakob-Park
Denver is currently riding a 13-game regular-season win streak and can match the franchise record against Oakland with another on the plus-side, something that feels like a fait accompli."This will be the best team that we've faced and they're very talented, so we're going to have to do a good job of changing things up and mixing some things up, mixing some looks and be able to play a good, team game," Allen said.
Oakland Raiders vs Denver Broncos
NFL Regular Season/Week 3
MON, SEP 23,2013.
Time : 8:30 PM
Sports Authority Field at Mile High
If anyone can persevere without an elite left tackle it's Manning. The veteran is as smart as they come and has the quickest release since Dan Marino was in his prime with the Dolphins.With Manning in the captain's chair the explosive Broncos lead the NFL with 90 points and are only the third team in the past 30 years to score 40-plus points in each of their first two games, joining the 2009 Saints and the 2001 Colts, who were also piloted by Manning.Manning leads the league with a 131.0 passer rating and is the only player in NFL history with nine touchdown passes and no interceptions through the first two weeks of a season. Furthermore, the Broncos have beaten the last two Super Bowl champions by the combined score of 90-50.If you cover Demaryius Thomas, Welker is going to get open. If you check both of those difference-makers, Eric Decker may jump up and bite you and if by some miracle, you lock down all the receivers, here comes Thomas, a 6-foot-5, 245-pound runaway locomotive in the open field.The fact that Moreno solidified a somewhat shaky running game last week also adds to Oakland's worries on defense.Through two games, the Raiders are tied atop the NFL with nine sacks. Of those, a league-high five are from defensive backs so defensive coordinator Jason Tarver is being very aggressive in an attempt to disrupt things."They've committed to some pressure," Fox said. "I think they're playing good team defense. They have had a lot of changes but right now they're playing good as a unit. That's the key for any team.""They can get the sacks different ways," Manning added. "They have some good pass rushers yet they have multiple blitz packages. It's important to block your man and also know your assignment. I think communication will be pivotal against this defense."Offensively, the Raiders currently boast the NFL's No. 1 rushing attack, averaging 198.5 yards per game. McFadden led the AFC entering Week 3 with 177 rushing yards and Pryor was third with 162 yards.Right now it's Pryor's mobility that is causing the most problems for opposing defenses."It definitely opens up some things that we haven't seen thus far," Fox said when discussing Pryor's athleticism. "This is the first time we really have a real mobile guy. They're doing a terrific job utilizing him in the run game. Their standard run game or conventional run game is very good. They lead the league in rushing. So it will be a full test for our defense."
Chicago Bears vs Pittsburgh Steelers
NFL Regular Season/week 3
SUN, SEP 22/ 2013.
Preview : The Pittsburgh Steelers are off to an 0-2 SU start for the first time since 2002, and are a rare home underdog Sunday night at Heinz Field against the Chicago Bears.The Steelers are a 2.5-point home underdog, just the fifth time in Mike Tomlin's long tenure that Pitt gets points at home, according to OddsShark.com. They are 8-1-1 ATS in 10 games as a home pup since 2000.After finishing near the bottom of the league in rushing last year, the Steelers look even worse running the football in 2013, compiling just 75 rushing yards for the first two games of the season.With no running game to keep opposing defenses honest, Pittsburgh's offense has stalled out of the gate in a 16-9 home loss to Tennessee and a 20-10 road loss to Cincinnati. The defense still looks sharp, but it hasn't been able to compensate for the offense.It hasn't been easy for the Chicago Bears, but they've gotten off to a 2-0 SU and 0-1-1 ATS start with come-from-behind wins at home against the Cincinnati Bengals and Minnesota Vikings. Neither the offense nor the defense have looked excellent so far this season, but both units have done enough in the clutch to pick up SU victories.The defense should be able to handle Pittsburgh's anemic offense, but the offense will have a tough assignment on the road against this defense.On paper, the Bears appear to be the better team this year, and it is hard to make a strong case for the Steelers with the way their offense is playing. But with Chicago off to a 2-0 SU start and Pittsburgh at 0-2 SU, desperation is clearly on the side of the Steelers.And with a team and city as proud as Pittsburgh's, we aren't quite ready to stick the nail in the coffin on this team just yet.
This quote is about all the Jacksonville Jaguars have going for them heading into Sunday’s game against the Seahawks. But coming off of one of the most highly anticipated regular season matchups in team history, Seattle will have to concentrate on not suffering a massive letdown against arguably the worst team in the NFL.The Jags are led by former Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley in his first head-coaching job. Heading into the season, the Jags’ roster was considered one of the least talented in the league, and their performance through two games has done little to dissuade that assertion.The Jacksonville offense, whether helmed by former first-round pick Blaine Gabbert or former Dolphins starter Chad Henne, has been simply atrocious, averaging a dreadful 213 yards per game — by far the worst in the league. Gabbert is still out after cutting his hand against Kansas City in Week 1, so expect to see Henne starting on Sunday.The once-reliable Maurice Jones-Drew is still the team’s best offensive player. But after missing all but six games last season with a foot injury, he hasn’t resembled the running back who led the league in rushing as recently as 2011. After suffering an ankle injury against the Raiders last Sunday, it’s unknown if he’ll be able to go against the Hawks. Jordan Todman is the presumed starter if Jones-Drew isn’t able to suit up.Third-year receiver Cecil Shorts has been a bright spot for the Jacksonville offense, catching 11 passes for 133 yards, but with the Jags posing little threat on the ground, the Legion of Boom should be free to key on Shorts in the passing game.The Jags are a mixed bag defensively, ranking second in the league in pass defense — behind only the Seahawks — but second-worst against the run. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. After Jacksonville fell behind quickly in both of their first two games, opponents have been able to abandon the passing game and pound the ball on the ground. Defensive end/linebacker hybrid Jason Babin, linebacker Paul Posluszny and defensive end Tyson Alualu are names to watch.Meanwhile, the Seahawks are coming off of a dominant performance against the hated division-rival 49ers on Sunday night. But there’s still plenty to work on.The Hawks’ passing game hasn’t been in sync through the first two games, with Russell Wilson looking efficient, if not spectacular. With eight catches and 142 yards, Doug Baldwin has been the most consistent receiving threat, but that’s not saying a lot. Look for Wilson and the Seahawks to try and jump-start the offense through the air and test just how good that Jacksonville secondary really is.
It became inevitable the two would share a football field again when Harbaugh left to coach the San Francisco 49ers before Luck's junior season, but neither of them are focused on anything except beating the other as Luck's Indianapolis Colts - possibly with newly acquired running back Trent Richardson - visit Candlestick Park on Sunday.Indianapolis made a blockbuster deal Wednesday, trading a 2014 first-round pick to Cleveland for Richardson, the No. 3 overall selection in 2012 who rushed for 950 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie.Harbaugh coached Stanford from 2007-10, helping build Luck into one of the most heralded college quarterback prospects over his final two years. After they led the Cardinal to an Orange Bowl victory, Harbaugh took the San Francisco job while Luck guided the Cardinal to a second straight BCS appearance before becoming the No. 1 overall pick by Indianapolis in the 2012 draft.Now, Harbaugh must help build a gameplan against his former pupil for the first time."He's a terrific player," said Harbaugh, who quarterbacked the Colts from 1994-97. "There's not a lot of weaknesses that he has. We're going to have to be very sound. He's a top-notch quarterback in the NFL."Luck, who set multiple rookie records last season, attributes part of his success to Harbaugh's tutelage."I definitely feel he helped me get to where I am," Luck said on a media conference call Wednesday. "He obviously helped turn Stanford around, his efforts more than anybody. Some of my success was being able to play at a well-coached, well-run program."They'll set sentimentality aside Sunday when the 49ers (1-1) and Colts (1-1) look to bounce back from losses.San Francisco beat Green Bay 34-28 in the season opener as Colin Kaepernick threw for a career-best 412 yards and three touchdowns, but he had 127 yards passing - his fewest in 12 career starts, including the postseason - and four turnovers in last week's 29-3 loss to Seattle.The 49ers had five turnovers overall, the first time they finished with more giveaways than points since committing five turnovers in a 28-3 loss to Indianapolis on Oct. 9, 2005."There's things that we'll put our finger on and try to make improvement, significant improvement, this week," Harbaugh said. "You want to identify where you can get better and make improvements, and then you want to see those improvements made."Harbaugh defended Kaepernick, whom Luck recommended to Harbaugh prior to the 2011 draft after the two met at Peyton Manning's passing clinic. The 49ers selected Kaepernick in the second round out of Nevada."Colin played hard and played well at times," Harbaugh said. "I'm not disappointed in the way Colin played at all. He did what he could."Luck also wasn't at his best last week in a 24-20 home loss to Miami, going 25 of 43 for 321 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He's been on the receiving end of seven sacks after being dropped 41 times last season, tying the most times a Colts quarterback had been sacked since Harbaugh in 1997."You've really got to limit your mistakes, and often times whoever wins comes down to who makes less mistakes," Luck said. "Or sometimes it comes back and bites you in the rear."T.Y. Hilton caught six passes for a career-best 124 yards, and Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for 65 and a touchdown in place of Vick Ballard, who is out for the season with a torn ACL."Everybody's miserable until you get to tee it up again the next Sunday," coach Chuck Pagano said. "(The 49ers) are coming off a tough loss, we're coming off a tough loss, so I think it will be the same in both places."The acquisition of Richardson may help the Colts feel a bit better, though. With Ballard out and uncertainty surrounding Bradshaw's ability to be a feature back, Indianapolis decided to bring in a player once considered to be Cleveland's running back of the future.Richardson, who rushed 31 times for 105 yards in the Browns' first two games, is expected to see at least some playing time Sunday as he gets up to speed.One of the biggest concerns for Luck and the Colts figured to be 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith, who already has 3 1/2 sacks after notching 16 last season, but Smith found himself in trouble with the law again Friday. He was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in San Jose at 7 a.m. - his second such arrest since 2012 - and also was in possession of marijuana.It's uncertain if Smith, who also has been named in a lawsuit by a Northern California man who said he was shot during a party at Smith's house last year, will play Sunday.While all eyes at the outset may be on the Harbaugh-Luck reunion, it won't be the only one Sunday. On Tuesday, the 49ers signed fullback Owen Marecic, who played with Luck and under Harbaugh at Stanford.
This is a very interesting match-up as both of the rookie quarterbacks will be facing very aggressive defenses. The game plan for both teams is almost the same therefore it comes down to execution and talent. While I think the return of Kerley is huge for Gang Green I believe that the Bills still have the edge with their offensive playmakers. Should be a very close, physical game.
On Sunday the New York Jets (1-1) take on the Buffalo Bills (1-1) at MetLife Stadium (4:25 EST). The Jets are trying to bounce back from a disappointing loss to the Patriots while the Bills come into MetLife energized after a last second victory over the Carolina Panthers. Here are some of the keys to the game from the New York Jets perspective. The Jets offensive line is going to have their hands full with Mario Williams (4.5 sacks last week), Kyle Williams, Alex Carrington, and Marcell Dareus. The Bills defensive line is very physical and does an excellent job of getting penetration into the backfield. Gang Green's line led by center Nick Mangold must control the line of scrimmage and prevent jail break pass rushes. Keep an eye on right tackle Austin Howard as he goes up against Mario Williams.The Bills defense has struggled against the run yielding over 141 yards a game. The Jets must implement the power running game with Chris Ivory as the feature back. If the Jets are able to effectively establish the running game, the air attack will then open up for Geno Smith.According to several published reports wide receiver Jeremy Kerley will be returning to action on Sunday. Kerley is very effective in the slot and should be utilized over the middle along with Santonio Holmes. The intermediate passing game will be key for Geno Smith and the Jets offense.The Bills are going to try and rattle Geno Smith with a variety of blitz packages. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg must account for the pressure and try to slow down the pass rush with screen passes and draw plays. The short passing game will not only give Geno confidence but will slow down the safeties and linebackers from attacking the box.The Buffalo Bills up tempo offense is built around a very good running game that features two quality backs. C.J. Spiller is a dynamic playmaker that can beat a defense by running and catching the ball out of the backfield. Fred Jackson is also a dual threat that can eat up yards in a hurry. The Jets defense must slow down the Buffalo ground attack in order to get pressure on EJ Manuel. The linebackers and safeties need to do a solid job in pass coverage as the Bills may try to take advantage of some mismatches.The feature match-up in the passing game will be Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson against Jets defensive back Antonio Cromartie. Johnson (11 catches, 150 yards, 2 tds) continues to display big play ability and must be accounted for at all times. Cromartie has struggled early on for the Jets and must raise his game on Sunday.If the Jets are able to contain Steve Johnson they then must focus their attention on wide receiver Robert Woods and tight end Scott Chandler. Both of these players are starting to form chemistry with EJ Manuel and will put pressure on the Jets secondary. A player to keep an eye on is rookie defensive back Dee Milliner who is off to a rough start.Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel has been doing an excellent job of getting rid of the ball quickly and avoiding turnovers. Manuel appears very comfortable in the pocket and can use his legs to get a first down if necessary. The Jets defense must collapse the pocket and get after Manuel. The sooner Gang Green's defense can get EJ out of rhythm the better off they will be. Note: Linebacker Quinton Coples could return from injury on Sunday which will give a boost to the pass rush.
Prediction: This is by far the toughest challenge for the Dolphins so far. The Browns have already punted on this season by trading Trent Richardson, while the Colts squeaked into the playoffs with some last-second heroics. The Falcons had the best record in the NFC last year, and made it just a few yards from the Super Bowl. If anyone is going to bring the Dolphins back to Earth, the Falcons would be a likely subject.But add in all the injuries the Falcons are facing, as well as the fact that this is the Dolphins home opener, and I can see Miami abusing the depleted linebacker corps with counter runs, play action fakes, and middle-crossing routes. I’m going to go ahead and give the Dolphins the 3-0 start they’ve been looking for for over a decade, and call this one Dolphins 17, Falcons 14.There are always a couple surprise teams in the NFL, and after two weeks, we have a couple contenders for 2013’s edition, as unexpected teams have gone 2-0. In the AFC West, the Kansas City Chiefs have already matched last year’s win totals. Over in the NFC, both the Saints and Bears have bounced back from playoff-less years with strong 2-0 starts. One of the most surprising teams, and one with some potential for keeping a hot start going, is the Miami Dolphins.
The Dolphins were an uninspiring 7-9 last season, and then went out and made some interesting decisions in the offseason, spending high on Mike Wallace coming off of a down year, letting left tackle Jake Long leave town, and jumping up to #3 in the draft in order to take Dion Jordan, who has so far made no impact on the season. Yet, here they are at 2-0, riding a strong defense to a hot start, and looking like a potential contender against the suddenly vulnerable-seeming Patriots.After a week 1 loss, the Falcons took a beating in the first half on the field against St. Louis, if not on the score line – five starters were hurt by halftime, including running back Steven Jackson and cornerback Asante Samuel. Add that to Roddy White coming in banged up, and you’d think the Falcons would struggle, right? Not with Julio Jones in the line-up – Jones had 11 receptions for 182 yards and a touchdown to lead all scorers in the game. Though the Rams brought pressure, Matt Ryan still went 13-for-17 against the blitz and, despite being sacked twice and knocked down eight more times, kept the Falcons ahead, holding off a late Rams charge to win, 31-24.The Dolphins had a step up in competition, facing their first playoff team of the year in Indianapolis. Riding into Lucas Oil stadium for a battle between second-year quarterbacks, Ryan Tannehill matched the much more acclaimed Andrew Luck throw for throw, and the defense stepped up and made Luck pay for his mistakes, intercepting him once in the end zone and forcing a key three-and-out to prevent Luck from having yet another fourth quarter comeback. Add in nine receptions for Mike Wallace a week after he complained about not getting the ball enough, and you have an impressive 24-20 victory.The Falcons had question marks entering their 2009 season opener, having revamped their defense in the offseason. With the likes of Keith Brooking and Lawyer Milloy leaving in the offseason, and with what seemed like a lack of talent coming in, how would they respond? Well, a near-shut out of the Chad Pennington-led Dolphins was as good a start as any, forcing four turnovers and adding four sacks to harry the Dolphins all day long. On offense, new addition Tony Gonzalez hooked up with second-year quarterback Matt Ryan for a touchdown, leading to a 19-7 Falcons win.What’s at stake: The loss to the Saints in week 1 means the Falcons no longer control their own destiny in the NFC South, though obviously, in week 3 it’s a bit early to get too concerned about that. A win, coupled with a Saints loss, would have them level once again in the division – but a loss would raise some serious questions, and the specter of a 1-3 start with New England coming in next week. The Dolphins, on the other hand, are trying to keep pace with the Patriots themselves. A win would give them their first 3-0 start since 2002 and cement their status as viable playoff contenders this season. Let’s start with the key injuries, as that will be the main storyline coming in for Atlanta– the Falcons will be without Steven Jackson, who went down with a hamstring injury against the Rams. He’ll be replaced with Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling, which is a notable step down for the run game. They’re going to have to try to get some of that short-yardage production in unorthodox ways – which may mean plenty of screen passes and outlet routes. Last week, the Dolphins allowed Ahmad Bradshaw and Stanley Havili to get 45 yards after the catch on only five receptions, and we could see more of that in lieu of a successful, between-the-tackles style run game for the Falcons this week, as I don’t see them having any success on the ground with Jackson out.The passing game is likely more of a route for success for the Falcons, even with Roddy White still questionable with a high-ankle sprain. It won’t be Jones this time, though – -or, rather, not to the same tune as in the Rams game, where he was almost unstoppable. He’ll get his catches and his yards, but I’d be more concerned about something else. Look at this – in week one, against the Browns, the Dolphins let tight end Jordan Cameron go for 9 catches, 104 yards and a touchdown. In week two, against the Colts, the Dolphins let tight end Coby Fleener go for 4 catches, 69 yards, and a touchdown. There’s no reason to believe that Tony Gonzalez can’t match that and more, as the Dolphins have yet to find an answer this season. They’re likely going to have to assign someone – safety Reshad Jones? – to stick to Gonzalez like glue, which will open the routes for the deep ball to Jones. It’s a tricky puzzle, and one the Dolphins are going to have to solve if they want to stay in this game.Injuries continue to affect the game when the Dolphins have the ball, as Atlanta will be missing Asante Samuel, Kory Biermann, Sean Weatherspoon, and more. The linebacking corps in particular is shallow this week – it’s too bad Dustin Keller suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason, as this would be the kind of game they’d lean on him in. Perhaps Charles Clay, the fullback/tight-end hybrid who scored the sealing touchdown last week, will continue to get opportunities in the short passing game. For the deep passing game, the Falcons need to find some way to get pressure on the quarterback, as they didn’t sack Sam Bradford once Sunday despite 57 pass attempts. The Dolphins have had trouble keeping Tannnehill upright, so it’s sort of a match between a stoppable force and a movable object. Assuming the pass protection holds up, though, Mike Wallace should be able to find some deep routes; the sort that they haven’t quite hooked up on yet. I’d imagine in front of the home crowd, they’d want to show off their new toy, however, so look for a deep bomb or two to Wallace early.On the ground, Lamar Miller bounced back from an awful game against Cleveland to be quite efficient against Indianapolis, and he might be the key this week, too, as the best way to stop the Falcons offense is to simply never allow them to have the ball. If they can chew up yardage on the ground, they’ll be alright — meaning they’re going to have to find ways to stop players like Jonathan Massaquoi from blowing up plays before they start. The Dolphins offensive line hasn’t had nearly the same start that the rest of the team has had. Outside of Richie Incognito and Mike Pouncey, they haven’t exactly been lighting it up. Tyson Clabo at right tackle has been particularly poor – but I have a feeling that they’ll be able to get things right against the depleted Falcons defense.
Catalans target 17-game unbeaten run. Jordi Alba and Carles Puyol are out for Gerardo Martino, but defensive issues will not be a concern for free-scoring Barca when they travel to the Spanish capital. Roberto Trashorras believes Rayo Vallecano have nothing to lose and everything to gain from a daunting home meeting with reigning champions Barcelona in the Primera Division. Barca are not known for being shy in front of goal but they have been an unstoppable force at Vallecas in recent years, following up a thumping 7-0 win with last season's 5-0 victory in Madrid.
The history books are a little kinder to Rayo, however, with the capital club registering two wins and two draws against the Catalans on home turf in the early 2000s.Skip to the present and Paco Jemez's men are struggling again. Despite beating Elche 3-0 on the opening day, they have lost three games in a row.Two of those matches - against Atletico Madrid and Malaga - saw them ship five goals without reply.With all the relevant facts and figures in mind, Rayo midfielder Trashorras felt unable to either trade on past glories or to write his side off, instead insisting Barca were there to be beaten.
He told his club's official website: I'm not looking at the results of past years. It's a game where we have a lot to gain and little to lose.``We're going to compete and three points would earn us a lot of prestige.``But we are facing one of the best teams in the world.The main thing we need to consider if we're going to compete, if we're going to get something positive out of the game or even to win it, is that we need make the most of the chances we do get.We have to believe that chances are there to be taken and that is the only way. We need to go out there thinking that anything could happen.No team has won every game through a whole season and if we do things well and put on our best performance then we can compete.''
The fact that Barca coach Gerardo Martino considered Wednesday's 4-0 Champions League victory over Ajax to be less than ``brilliant'' should further depress Rayo's players but Trashorras remains optimistic.What we have to do is exhaust all possibilities against a team who we know are capable of dominating all aspects of a game,'' he added. ``Everyone has to play at their highest level.Playing at home is a major factor for us to consider. We have to keep possession as much as we can and survive as best we can when we don't have the ball.Mexican winger Nery Castillo is back in training at the Ciudad Deportiva, alongside on-loan Tottenham midfielder Iago Falque. Alhassane 'Lass' Bangoura and Jose Carlos are unlikely to feature, though. Barca have concerns in defence with Carles Puyol and Jordi Alba both struggling while Gerard Pique (groin) needs a late fitness test before travelling to Madrid.
Rayo Vallecano Matches Win Draw Lose
Overall 38 16 5 17
Home 19 9 3 7
Away 19 7 2 10
Barcelona Matches Win Draw Lose
Overall 38 32 4 2
Home 19 18 1 0
Away 19 14 3 2
Team Matches Win Draw Lose Score Goals Scored Goals Allowed
Rayo Vallecano 18 3 4 11 15:48 0.83 2.67
Barcelona 18 11 4 3 48:15 2.67 0.83
Barcelona will be out to stretch their unbeaten La Liga run to 17 games when they travel to Rayo Vallecano on Saturday. Gerardo Martino's men have made an excellent start to the season, picking up 12 points from their first four games while scoring 14 goals. Reigning champions Barca sit joint-top of the table with Atletico Madrid, and make the trip to face another side from the Spanish capital to whom they have not lost since 2002.
Chelsea Football Club is an English football club based in Fulham, London. Founded in 1905, they play in the English Premier League and have spent most of their history in the top tier of English football. Fulham Football Club is a professional football club based in Fulham, London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, southwest London.
Jose looking for goals
Jose Mourinho and Chelsea's attentions return to the Barclays Premier League on Saturday after their midweek Swiss slip up. Mourinho puts his unbeaten run of 62 Premier League matches at Stamford Bridge on the line against west London neighbours Fulham in the week the Blues lost a home Champions League group game for the first time in nearly 10 years. Chelsea have also made their worst start to a Premier League season in a decade - winning only against Hull and Aston Villa, while drawing at Manchester United and losing at Everton - in an inauspicious opening to Mourinho's second spell as boss.
The solution for Mourinho is simple. "We need to score goals," Mourinho said following the Basle defeat, Chelsea's first in 29 group-stage matches at home. "When you don't score goals you are in trouble." Ramires is available following his European suspension as is fellow midfielder Michael Essien, who is not part of the European squad, but is available domestically. Mourinho is expected to rotate his options, with Fernando Torres in line for a recall up front. Fulham striker Dimitar Berbatov (hamstring) will have a fitness test. Forward Darren Bent (hamstring) is back in the squad, but Bryan Ruiz (ankle) will miss out. Defenders Aaron Hughes (thigh) and Matthew Briggs (hernia) are still sidelined along with first-choice goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg (shoulder). Boss Martin Jol knows better than to take the Blues lightly despite recent results.
He said: "I think if we beat them it will be the first time that they have lost three games in a week, so it puts a little bit more pressure on them. "However, I don't know if it is an advantage or not. "When they lost against Everton, it put pressure on them in the Champions League, so they had to win that game. "So to talk about must-win games, I think that for Chelsea this is a must-win game against us because they want to be champions in England."
West Ham last beat Everton in the Premier League in April 2007 when Bobby Zamora's goal earned a 1-0 win and the hosts head into this weekend's fixture with problems in attack. Everton will look to get their second win of the season when they travel to West Ham United on Saturday, after achieving their first victory against Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side last weekend. West Ham will be looking for a good performance against Everton, as they have been less than satisfactory in that department so far this season. They defeated Cardiff 2-0 on the opening day, but have since only managed two shots on target in their matches .
Everton have had a different story however, and will consider themselves unfortunate that they only have six points instead of 12 at this stage. The confidence that will have been gained, with the win over the title favourites last weekend, will undoubtedly prove invaluable when they face the Hammers on Saturday.
West Ham are still without their big summer signing Andy Carroll, who discovered that he suffered yet another injury recently, further delaying his comeback. Sam Allardyce has confirmed that Joe Cole and Stewart Downing will also miss this game but should return next week. Romelu Lukaku will be available to make his debut for Everton this weekend, after signing on loan from Chelsea. Gareth Barry will again have the chance to show his quality after making an impressive debut against Chelsea.
Eurosport have some interesting statistics for this match:
West Ham have had just six shots on target so far this season.
They also have the worst shooting accuracy in the league at just 20%.
Everton have defeated West Ham six times in their last 10 league meetings, losing none.
At seven shots, Ross Barkley has had more shots blocked by the opposition than any other Premier League player.
This fixture has produced three red cards on the last three occasions.
Paul Merson's prediction
I've watched West Ham a few times this season and I don't know how they're going to score until Andy Carroll gets fit. They never looked like scoring a goal against Stoke and Modibo Maiga hasn't really done anything in the last two games. He really hasn't had a kick. Kevin Nolan doesn't look like the same player when Carroll isn't in the team and he can't make his runs off the big target man. I would be tempted to change things on Saturday and play Nolan up front. He's intelligent and will give you more than Maiga at the moment. They've got to change things because if they don't then I think you'll see "nil" again.
The result has left the Black Cats rock bottom of the league with only one point after four games, with a tough run of fixtures ahead – they play Liverpool, Manchester United and Newcastle in their next three home games.However, Sunderland will be boosted by the news that Emanuele Giaccherini and John O’Shea will return to the side for the trip to the West Midlands this weekend.Giaccherini missed last week’s clash against Arsenal through injury while captain O’Shea was suspended following his red card at Crystal Palace.In other team news Paolo Di Canio has offered midfielder Lee Cattermole, 25, a future at the club and said he could feature against Albion on Saturday. While the Italian has hit out at his summer signing Cabral, stating the ex-Basel man has a lot to learn before he can play in the Premier League.Despite a positive second half display last weekend, Sunderland fans won’t hold much faith as they head south to play West Brom. The visitors haven’t beaten the Baggies in their last seven encounters – only managing one point out of a possible 21 up for grabs.That in mind, the hosts this weekend are unbeaten against Sunderland in their last three encounters. The Baggies have scored 10 goals in the process, to the Black Cats measly one – with that single goal scored by the now departed Sessegnon.Sunderland will still feel very bitter after last weekend’s result saw them lose to Arsenal after a dubious decision from referee Martin Atkinson ruled out a Jozy Altidore goal – bringing play back for an earlier foul rather than waiting to see if there was an advantage.West Brom have just two points from from their first four matches and their opponents here are the only side below them in the standings. They have lost both of their home matches, going down 1-0 to a late Southampton penalty and 2-0 when Swansea were the visitors. The Baggies have picked up useful points at Everton (0-0) and most recently Fulham (1-1) but with Manchester United and then Arsenal providing the opposition after this, the pressure is on to find that first league win here.Sunderland have suffered defeats against three London clubs with Fulham winning 1-0 at the Stadium of Light, Palace seeing them off 3-1 at Selhurst Park and they lost their most recent outing 3-1 at home to Arsenal. Their only point so far came in a 1-1 draw at Southampton where they were pegged back in the 88th minute.
All four of West Brom's league games have seen backers of under 2.5 goals collect.
Three of the last four Sunderland games have seen both sides find the net.
The last five head to heads have delivered for backers of over 2.5 goals and four of those five saw both sides find the net.
Sunderland's Stephane Sessegnon moved to West Brom on transfer deadline day and could be in line for a debut.
Head to Head.
Sat 23/02/13 PRL West Brom 2 - 1 Sunderland
Sat 24/11/12 PRL Sunderland 2 - 4 West Brom
Sat 25/02/12 PRL West Brom 4 - 0 Sunderland
Sat 01/10/11 PRL Sunderland 2 - 2 West Brom
Newcastle heads into Saturday's game having recorded back to back wins following victories over Fulham and Aston Villa. Papiss Cisse will be out to end his goal drought as Newcastle United seek a third straight Premier League win in their clash with Hull City. Newcastle head into Saturday’s game having recorded back-to-back wins following victories over Fulham and Aston Villa. Alan Pardew’s men have not won three consecutive Premier League games since winning six on the bounce in March and April 2012. If they are to do so again then they will need Cisse – who has not scored a Premier League goal since April – to begin showing some form. Pardew admits that Cisse’s recent performances are a worry and hinted that the 28-year-old striker could be dropped if he continues to struggle.
“That is a concern. We have worked hard to find avenues for him to find that goal,” Pardew said. “Hopefully we can create more opportunities. “But it will be tough for him if he doesn’t get it. We have competition for places.” Newcastle will be without defender Steven Taylor due to a knock, while Jonas Gutierrez (hamstring), Massadio Haidara and Ryan Taylor (both knee) are also unavailable. Shola Ameobi and Mike Williamson (both knocks) are doubtful, and Gabriel Obertan is out with a hamstring problem. Hull approach the game after a 1-1 draw with Cardiff City, but should take hope from their recent record at St James’ Park, where they have won on three of their last four visits. Manager Steve Bruce will be without midfielder Robert Koren, who has a fractured foot, and will make late checks on Robbie Brady and Maynor Figueroa (both suffering with unspecified knocks), but striker Yannick Sagbo returns from suspension.
Hull have won just one of their last 11 games in the Premier League, but Bruce is confident that Sagbo – dismissed against Norwich City for headbutting Ricky van Wolfswinkel – will have an impact. “He’s a different option for us. We’re a little bit light up there but he’s like a new player coming through the door again. That should be good for us,” Bruce commented. “He’s served his suspension and hopefully learned from it. He owes us and he owes the lads but he knows that. He gives us that little bit of firepower.”
Southampton go into the game without a Premier League victory since their opening-day win at West Brom and having failed to score in their last two fixtures against West Ham and Norwich City respectively. Southampton head to Anfield on Saturday as the last team to defeat Premier League leaders Liverpool.Brendan Rodgers’ side have taken 10 points from their opening four top-flight games of the season to extend their overall unbeaten run to 12 matches after a strong finish to last term. But this sequence only began after they fell to a 3-1 loss at St Mary’s in March, when Morgan Schneiderlin, Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez netted for the hosts.
Liverpool’s goalscorer on that occasion – Philippe Coutinho – will miss this encounter with Southampton after suffering a shoulder injury that is expected to keep him out of action for around six weeks in Monday’s 2-2 draw at Swansea City. The Brazilian playmaker has been in fine form in the opening weeks of the campaign, but joins Glen Johnson, Aly Cissokho (both ankle) and Sebastian Coates (knee) on the sidelines. Daniel Agger (muscle strain) is also a doubt.
Wales international midfielder Joe Allen could be in line for a return after his hamstring problem, but Liverpool will once again be without Luis Suarez, who serves the last match of his 10-game suspension. In the absence of the Uruguay international and Coutinho, Rodgers will continue to rely on Daniel Sturridge for attacking inspiration as the striker looks to continue his red-hot run of goalscoring form. The former Chelsea man has bagged 11 goals in his last nine Premier League outings, including four in four this season despite struggling with a thigh complaint.
Southampton go into the game without a Premier League victory since their opening-day win at West Brom and having failed to score in their last two fixtures against West Ham and Norwich City respectively. Club-record signing Pablo Daniel Osvaldo is still on the hunt for his first Southampton goal since moving from Roma in August and is likely to lead the line again with boss Mauricio Pochettino having a fully-fit squad to choose from. However, Pochettino’s side have won only one of their last five Premier League away games and just one of their previous eight visits to Anfield – a 2-1 success in December 2003.
Paul Lambert will hope his Aston Villa side can turn their fortunes around when they travel to his old club Norwich City on Saturday. Villa have lost their last three Premier League games after getting off to a perfect start with a 3-1 opening-day victory at Arsenal. Defeats at Chelsea and at home to Liverpool were followed up with a 2-1 reverse against Newcastle United at Villa Park, meaning a more positive result is needed at Carrow Road.
Lambert – who managed Norwich for three years before leaving for Villa last June – can take heart from his team’s recent record at his old stomping ground though, as they won there twice last season in the Premier League and League Cup. New signing Libor Kozak is in line to make his full debut for the visitors, and should be full of confidence after netting for the Czech Republic against Italy in the recent international break. Kozak could partner last season’s top scorer Christian Benteke up front, and the Belgian has picked up where he left off this term, scoring four goals in as many Premier League games.
However, Lambert will need to reorganise his midfield for the encounter though, with Jores Okore ruled out for up to nine months after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in the defeat to Newcastle. There are no new injury worries for Norwich manager Chris Hughton though, with only long-term absentee Elliot Bennett (knee) unavailable.
Hughton’s men have also made a sluggish start to the season, winning just one of their four games. They have picked up four points from their two home games though, but Hughton is expecting a tough game against Villa – the only team to beat them at Carrow Road in their last 11 competitive home fixtures.
“We will be tested because they are a young and exciting side. They have good offensive options and are going to play a certain way which makes it difficult for you,” the former Newcastle boss said.
Hughton will be hoping Johan Elmander can get off the mark having failed to find the net in his first three games for Norwich after joining on a season-long loan from Galatasaray. The Sweden international is likely to partner fellow newcomer Ricky van Wolfswinkel up front, with the Dutchman also looking to get back among the goals after a three-game barren spell since scoring against Everton on the first day of the season.
Norwich are coming in to Saturday’s early match undefeated in 10 of their last 11 home matches in Premier League competition against an Aston Villa team that has not won any of their last three games.
Of the two teams Villa has scored more goals (5-3) and the goals allowed is rather even with Aston Villa allowing 6 and Norwich giving up 5. Norwich are currently 14th in the table with four points while Villa are 17th with three points. They both have one win apiece while Villa have three losses compared to Norwich’s one draw and two losses.
All in all it looks like this could be a match with interesting, unpredictable results. My prediction for a result is a draw. This is one that could swing either way with neither team really showing much defensive fortitude to start this season. The one thing going for Norwich is that their one win came against an opponent similar to Aston Villa in their 1-0 home win over Southampton.
Former WBO Super bantamweight Champion and son of a Legend Wilfredo “Papito” Vazquez held an open media workout Today at Walter Alvarez Cross Fit/Miami Fight Gym in Miami, Florida in anticipation of his return to the ring in “Road To Redemption” as he returns home to the Kissimmee Civic Center this Friday September 20. His Father and Trainer Wilfredo Vazquez worked with his son alongside of Cuban Professor Roberto Quesada. Vazquez Jr. also participated in Telemundo’s popular program Titulares y Mas and other network programs. Vazquez, Jr., (22-3-1-19 KO’s) of Bayamon, Puerto Rico will face undefeated prospect Guillermo “Borrego” Avila (13-0-8 KO’s) of Jamay, Jalisco, Mexico in a bout schedule for 12 Rounds for the World Boxing Organization International superbantamweight title. Also on the card Wilfredo Vazquez younger son Jr. Flyweight Israel “El Heredero” Vazquez (8-0-2-6 KO’s), SMS Promotions undefeated prospect Emanuel “El Pirata” De Jesus (7-0-5 KO’s) of Canovanas, Puerto Rico and local prospects Craig Duncan, Lucien Harris, Angel Albelo, Ariel Vega, Angel Garcia and the highly anticipated pro debut of Alex “Flash” Roman amongst others. Doors open 7:30 PM, First bell at 8:30 PM. Telemundo Network available in HD will televise main event starting at 11:35 PM. Tuto Zabala, Jr., All Star Boxing, Inc is presenting the show. Tickets are already on sale from only $20.00 at Kissimmee Civic Center 201 E. Dakin Ave, Downtown Kissimmee, FL or by calling 407-935-1412.FOX Sports and the World Boxing Council have reached a multi-platform agreement that brings the recently created, 24-card “WBC World Cup of Professional Boxing” to the FOX Sports family of networks, beginning Friday. The deal grants exclusive broadcast rights in the U.S., where fights air on FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2 and FOX Deportes. Exclusive rights also apply in the Caribbean through FOX Sports 2 and FOX Deportes, while non-exclusive rights apply in the Dominican Republic and Cuba. The unprecedented elimination-style event brings together champions from across 10 related intercontinental federations, plus the Silver and International Belts, in four weight classes: feather, light, welter and heavy. Broken into an elimination phase, quarterfinals, semifinals and finals, the first 20 broadcasts include two main events and have a two-hour window, while the finals are scheduled for 90 minutes. Fight nights take place in the U.S. (10), Mexico (10) and four international venues yet to be determined. “The WBC closes the celebration of its 50th anniversary with the introduction of the first WBC World Cup of Professional Boxing,” WBC President Jose Sulaiman said. “The participants are champions from the 10 WBC Continental Federations, representing 165 countries affiliated with the WBC, in four traditional weight divisions. The WBC belt has been worn by the world’s greatest boxing champions, and the winner of the World Cup of Boxing will earn a WBC world championship title fight. The WBC is very proud of having FOX Sports as our home for this historic event.” In addition to broadcast rights, the deal also covers broad new media options, including live streaming, on-demand and highlights/clips via the Internet and mobile on FOXSports.com, FOXSportsGO or any other FOX Sports digital platform. “This is a great opportunity to partner with the WBC on what we expect will be an incredibly competitive series of events,” said Joshua Glassel, FOX Sports VP Programming & Acquisitions. “Some of the best fighters from around the globe fighting their way through a ‘World Cup’ format certainly has the makings for compelling sports television, and FOX Sports is excited to be a part of this ambitious project from the beginning.”
After two exciting days of UEFA Champions League tournament we’re getting treated to a day packed with UEFA Europa League action. For those not quite sure what the difference is between the two, Europa could be considered the NIT college basketball tournament, where as Champions League is the NCAA college basketball tournament.The third place teams in each group of the Champions League will eventually end up in the Europa League later this season. For now, these are teams we’re treated to seeing. There are a lot of quality clubs, some you’ve heard of some you might not have but anyone can win on the pitch.
Date: September 19
Start Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Location: Valencia, Spain
Stadium: Mestalla Stadium
Swansea will test their strength when they travel to Spain to take on Valencia Thursday.The Swans took the Premier League by storm and won the Carling Cup to earn a place in the Europa League. Swansea have done a great job of finding cheap transfers, especially from Spain, to level the playing field a bit with richer clubs.Just how successful they can be in this competition will be something to watch. They've got so much talent, but it may be hard to juggle both the European and domestic campaigns.Valencia have made it a tradition that they sell off at least one of their best players every summer. It's hard to believe that this club had Juan Mata, David Villa and David Silva, before having to sell all three to ease the financial burden.All of that selling seems to have finally caught up with Valencia, after years of qualifying for the Champions League. Los Che are 16th in the table after four matches and only finished fifth last season.
The Houston Texans (2-0) travel to Baltimore this week to take on the Super Bowl Champion Ravens (1-1). This has all the makings of a great game, however, it all depends on which teams will show up. Will it be the Ravens who fell flat on their faces out of the gate in week one to lose to the Broncos in Denver by a score of 49-27 and giving up seven touchdown passes to Peyton Manning or, the Ravens that came back and scored two touchdowns in week two to beat the woeful Cleveland Browns?On the other side of the ball, you have the Houston Texans who looked terrible in the first half during the Monday Night Football opener against the San Diego Chargers. Well, it was really a tale of two halves. The Texans looked bad on both sides of the ball in the first half, but got their act together and came back and scored 24 unanswered points to beat the Chargers in the 2nd half. The Texans also struggled for most of the game last Sunday against the Tennessee Titans at home. They again rallied and came back to win in overtime, thanks to clutch plays by Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins.Something has to give when it comes to these teams who have both struggled, especially offensive consistency . The Ravens are led by quarterback Joe Flacco who is passing with 58.9% rating with three touchdowns and two interceptions. The Texans are lead by quarterback Matt Schaub who is passing with a 64.5% rating with six touchdowns and three interceptions. It’s an intriguing match up.As a sub-plot, there is the Ed Reed story. Ed Reed, the free agent, signed with the Texans on March 22, 2013 after playing 11 years with the Ravens. Reed is still recovering from offseason hip surgery. Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said that he doesn't know when Reed will be able to play as he is listed day to day. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has already stated that he will be surprised if Ed Reed doesn't play on Sunday against his old team.
Houston Texans vs Baltimore Ravens Week 3 Prediction
The last time these two teams met was last year in Houston. The Ravens had no answers for the Texans as they lost in week seven by the score of 43-13. That and the fact that the Ravens just could not get their offense going against the Texans swarming defense. One of these teams will have the upper hand on Sunday and I think the Texans will prevail again, and its not only because of the Ed Reed x-factor. The Texans have bolstered their offense why the Ravens have lost their firepower on the offensive side of the ball. Especially the loss of wide receiver Anquan Boldin. The Texans two headed running game of Arian Foster and Ben Tate will be tough for the Ravens to stop.
Competitor :Houston Texans vs Baltimore Ravens
Series : NFL Regular season,Week 03
Play-Off :1:00 PM, SUN, SEP 22
M&T Bank Stadium
The Giants visit the Panthers for the second consecutive year, this time with both teams winless and already trying to salvage their seasons.New York (0-2) fell 41-23 to Denver last week, getting plagued by turnovers for the second consecutive game. The Giants, who had six giveaways in a 36-31 loss to Dallas on Sept. 8, added four more against the Broncos.All of them came from Eli Manning, whose four interceptions gave him an NFL-leading seven.The inability to protect the ball is only one of the Giants' major problems. The running game was again nonexistent last week, managing 23 yards on 19 carries as New York fell to last in the league with 73 rushing yards.The Giants have also allowed a league-high 77 points and have only two sacks. Perhaps worst of all, at least one key veteran sees something even more critical missing."I don't know where the lack of emotion comes from, especially during the course of a game," safety and captain Antrel Rolle said. "This is something you love to do, this is something you should have passion about doing and the one thing I say, you can always control your effort and you can control how you approach the game."New York needs to find that element quickly if it wants to have a realistic chance of making the playoffs. The last time a team made the postseason after starting 0-2 was 2008, and no team opening 0-3 has qualified for the playoffs since 1998."In this situation, you've got to have a little sense of urgency," said Manning, last in the league in passer rating at 75.9. "I don't think there's anything wrong with that. If you make it a must-win, sometimes that's what you need to be put in those situations. It is a big game. We're 0-2 right now. We're looking for our first win. Guys just have to keep their heads up and look at the good things and look at where we've got to make improvements."Manning and his teammates are hoping history repeats itself Sunday, almost exactly one year after the Giants were able to make plenty of improvements in a Week 3 trip to Charlotte amid a similarly shaky start.New York came into the game 1-1 after a disheartening season-opening loss to Dallas and a comeback win over Tampa Bay, then routed the Panthers 36-7 that Sept. 20. Manning threw for 288 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions and the Giants rushed for 125.The defense, which had given up 51 points in the first two weeks, allowed only 327 yards and intercepted a frustrated Cam Newton three times.Carolina (0-2) hasn't gotten better results than New York so far, scoring 30 points, though the Panthers have been more competitive. They led Seattle in the fourth quarter of their opener before losing 12-7 and suffered a heartbreaking 24-23 defeat to Buffalo last week on a two-yard touchdown pass from EJ Manuel with 2 seconds remaining.That capped an 80-yard drive during which the Bills had no timeouts."It's time to get over the hump," coach Ron Rivera said. "We've been through this - and that is the thing that is disheartening. You'd like to believe that we've gotten to the point where we've learned from these things and now it's about getting things done."Since Rivera took over in 2011, the Panthers have lost 10 games in which they've held a lead in the fourth quarter - tied with Philadelphia for most in the league.Newton was sacked six times Sunday, and he's struggled in the early going with an 86.4 rating.
"With us being in so many tight games, you would think we would know by now, but it's still a learning and maturing thing for us," Newton told the team's official website. "In tight situations, we have to somehow make a play."We will scratch and claw and find a way to win games."The defense has allowed 403.0 yards per game, including 293.5 passing, and now must play without Charles Godfrey for the rest of the season after the starting free safety tore his right Achilles tendon last Sunday.One area in which Carolina has succeeded is running the ball, as the Panthers are among the NFL leaders with 259 rushing yards. DeAngelo Williams has led the way with 171, and he'll face a Giants team that gave up 109 and two touchdowns on the ground last week.
Competitor :New York Giants vs Carolina Panthers
Series : NFL Regular season,Week 03
Play-Off :1:00 PM, SUN, SEP 22
Bank of America Stadium
While the Washington Redskins contemplate what has happened in the first two losses of the 2013 season, if they do not defeat the Detroit Lions in Week 3, it will be the first time in nearly 75 years the Lions come to Washington and leave with a victory.According to Rich Tandler, one of Comcast SportsNet Washington's lead writers, the Lions are looking for the franchise’s first win ever as a visitor to Washington.They are 0-21 in Griffith Stadium/DC Stadium/RFK Stadium/Jack Kent Cooke Stadium/FedEx Field, a skid that stretches back to 1939. A loss to the Lions, at home in front of disappointed fans, will burst the bubble of enthusiasm and optimism for some. That's happens after any home game loss. A win for Detroit lands the Lions in the record books and into the land of sports trivia. A Redskins loss could really impact team attitude, pride and morale as the team continues to ask themselves, "What's wrong?" So far the Redskins can't watch much video of "What's right?" based on their performances in their first two games. More accurately, the two second half's.I only say this because so much was made about the return of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III following his nine months of rehabilitation following reconstructive right knee surgery. This would not be such a big deal but RG3 had to have surgery on both of his knees in order to resurrect one good knee.But that's not the extent of the significance of a Redskins win after falling face-first in their first two regular season games to start the much-anticipated 2013 season. Throughout the offseason and preseason, many Redskins fans were overly concerned about RG3 and his return in time for the start of the 16-game regular season. Some debated the merits of having RG3 playing in the preseason to help polish his game-time efforts and playability in the games that count.Their conclusion was the preseason doesn't count. Why put such a high-profile QB in a meaningless game in the preseason and jeopardize his successful return to NFL game-time situations that earned RG3 the Offensive Rookie of the Year accolades he so deservedly earned in his first year in the league?The problem the Redskins face is a resurgent Lions football team under the direction of quarterback Matthew Stafford, the hit-or-miss effectiveness of running back Reggie Bush, and perhaps one of the best receivers the NFL community and fan-base has seen in a decade in wide receiver Calvin Johnson—aka "Megatron."
Competitor :Detroit Lions vs Washington Redskins
Series : NFL Regular season,Week 03
Play-Off :1:00 PM, SUN, SEP 22