The NFL is down to its final four teams. The Indianapolis Colts win at Denver Sunday night set the conference championship games. The New England Patriots, in the AFC Championship for the fourth straight year, will play host to the Indianapolis Colts. In the NFC matchup, the Green Bay Packers travel to Seattle to play the defending Super Bowl champions at the loudest sports venue in the USA.
With the Colts having defeated the Broncos, the advantage in the AFC game goes to #1 seed New England Patriots. The Patriots had a bye during the Wild Card week while the Colts had to play, New England is playing this game at their home field, and the Patriots bring much more playoff experience. With that said, the Colts went into Denver this past weekend and beat them convincingly so Indianapolis certainly has momentum and confidence going into this game.
As far as the NFC matchup, Seattle features the league’s best defense squaring off against the Packers and the NFL’s best quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has been hampered by a calf injury that has limited his mobility, yet he can make up for his inability to scramble with his arm strength and accuracy. Despite being hobbled last weekend, Rodgers the Packers back from a halftime deficit to advance to the NFC Championship game. Can Rodgers deliver for a second straight week against a more dangerous defense or will the Seahawks show why they, and not the Packers, are the defending champions?
The NBA’s landscape is changing
Every year, there are basketball teams that improve while other fall short of expectations. This isn’t exclusive to the NBA, but the shift this year has been remarkable. Nearly every division has seen significant differences in the standings over years past. Golden State, while a good team last year, is dominating everyone right now. An improvement was expected but, at 29-5, this pace is reminiscent of historic Bulls and Spurs teams. Atlanta (28-9) is another team that was expected to improve but they now hold the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Part of the shift is teams not playing up to expectations. The Thunder, despite some injuries, is a disappointing 18-19 in a division where that record is good for 2nd place. Cleveland is 19-19 at the moment. When LeBron James returned, he said it might take some time to build a winner in Cleveland. However, that was before the Cavs signed Kevin Love and expectations most certainly changed at that point.
Perhaps it’s too early to make any solid judgments. We’ve seen teams have greatly improved regular seasons only to fall to the usual suspects like San Antonio come playoff time. Teams like Cleveland may get their act together and start playing quality ball. Regardless, it’s an exciting time for a handful clubs that had been consistent losers for many years. They’ll get their chance to prove if they are contenders in just a few short months.
The Premier League is fiercer than ever. There are no easy games unless you play QPR at home (0-0-10 away). Hull also look really poor at the moment with a couple of devastating injuries up front being all they took from their away game at The Hawthornes. Red-hot January transfer-target Berahino slotted home the winner after a hopeless back pass by El Mohammady resulting in an indirect free kick and eventually the crucial goal.
Another piping hot striker on form is Charlie Austin. His penalty was not enough for QPR at Turf Moor though. Scott Arfield’s 1-0 goal following a double nutmeg was the play of the day indeed. In the bottom half of the table, 9 teams are technically struggling against relegation, from bottom placed Leicester to Everton in 12th. The gap is only 5 points, with Leicester upsetting Aston Villa on Saturday. Villa had most of the ball, but Leicester created the chances. David Nugent missed two sitters before rocking the crossbar with a crackling volley. Paul Konchesky hammered home the winner eventually, unlikely as that may sound, in a cracking match that also saw Matthew James sent off after a shocking tackle and Clark joining him receiving his second yellow for his reaction.
The Toffees on their side gave reigning champions Manchester City a run for their money in another great Premier League game. Chances galore, controversial decisions and a draw in the end. Speaking of the top sides, it’s basically come down to a race between City and Chelsea, the latter snagging a 2 point cushin with their win over Newcastle. Costas 2-0 goal was magnificent, much thanks to brilliant moves by Eden Hazard and Oscar. Toon played really well though, and perhaps deserved to get something from the game, but Mourinho’s disciples are relentless this season.
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Hot like a pistol? Try Alexis Sanchez. He is to Arsenal what Luis Suarez was to Liverpool last season and sort of similar in style as well. The Chilean was too much to handle for Stoke yesterday, and almost singlehandedly won the game with 2 goals and an assist. Another praised player this season has been Southampton’s assist-king Dusan Tadic. Manager Ronald Koeman benched him against Manchester United though, only to see the talented Serbian smash home the winner as a sub. Luis van Gaal was delighted to see his squad in full force having struggled with injuries most of the season, however, United’s performance against the Saints was not what the doctor ordered.
21 games played and nothing is settled. Will the teams behind catch up to Chelsea and City? Who will contest the Champions League spots? And who will face relegation battle? Tune in next week for another episode of The Greatest Show on Earth!
Well, that might be flattering ourselves just a bit. Mondays are rough, let’s face it. Waking up after a sweet weekend, tired as a mug, realizing it’s about 5 days until next time is pretty depressing. Also, it’s winter and dark all the time. Of course you miss your bus to work, arrive late and wouldn’t you know it: There’s no coffee in the pot. First world problems, yeah?
Anyways, today we at Guts want to make your Monday a little less gloomy. Introducing Double Deal, the best thing since Prozac. Get a 100% casino bonus up to €30 today! Double your deposit, double the fun! Deposit minimum €20 today, wager it and get 15 free spins on Lady of Fortune tomorrow! After all, Tuesdays are pretty grey themselves.
Now, have another cup of coffee and remember: It’s just a Monday. It gets better.
December, the busiest of the busy! It’s not only gifts, food and family you have to take care of, there is also a fantasy team to manage. I mean, how do you find time for all this? Anyways, a few of you did really well in December and you deserve a prize! Here is our Christmassy Managers of the Month:
1 Yaya's birthday cake Matthew Casson 387 £100
2 Barmy Army Abhishek Aiyer 386 £60
3 Control Alt De Laet Tiago Neto 378 £20
3 Wright Wing Sean Wright 378 £20
You will recognize Tiago Neto from previous months and he is still atop our overall standing. James Currie and his former pop stars S Club 11 is closing the gap. Or was it 7? 7-11? Oh, I see what you did there!
Anyways, our winners must contact firstname.lastname@example.org with their team name and username within 14 days to claim their prize.
OK, then! Happy New Year!
Manchester United - Liverpool is the game the supporters love to win and hate to lose. It’s one of the biggest games on the Premier League schedule every year and Liverpool’s 3-0 win at Old Trafford last season was not accepted. David Moyes is no longer the manager of Man Utd, is he? Yesterday, United got even, flattering themselves with a 3-0 win. However, Liverpool created more than enough chances, but David De Gea was like a wizard between the posts. Nothing passed. A magnificent game by the Spaniard and up front United was utterly efficient. Valencia, who played perhaps his best game of the season, created the 1-0 goal which Rooney converted.
Mata’s 2-0 goal was clearly offside, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles when your on the winning path. On an opposite path, Sterling could not find a way pass De Gea, neither could Balotelli. Liverpool was not to get a goal at Old Trafford this afternoon; it was written in the stars. Or at the very least, in the palm of David De Gea’s hand. 6 consecutive wins has propelled United into third place, trailing city rivals Manchester City by 5 points.
The Guts bonus sports is now up and running. Go get'em! City and leaders Chelsea won their games as well on Saturday, securing the status quo going into the busy Christmas schedule. Southampton however, is on a downward spiral having lost 4 games in a row. Dusan Tadic missed a penalty in their 1-0 defeat at Turf Moor, taking Burnley clear of the relegation zone.
Tottenham stole a win at Swansea and Arsenal dismantled high-flying Newcastle at the Emirates. Olivier Giroud’s return might spell doom for a Liverpool in a state of crisis next weekend.
Everton and QPR will wrap up Matchweek 16 in the Premier League tonight and the Toffies are expected to win. Monday Night Football usually has an unpredictable atmosphere, so look for the unexpected to happen and Joey Barton to prove why he, not Lewis Hamilton, is the top dog in Britain.
With only three weeks remaining in the NFL’s regular season, let’s take a moment and look at the playoff picture and the teams most likely to win the big game on February 1, 2015. Have another moment and check out the Guts bonus sports! Surely worth a look!
The top two teams in each conference receive a bye week during the first week of the playoffs (Wild Card round). As these top seeds have the easiest road to the Super Bowl, we’ll focus on those clubs this week.
New England Patriots, 10-3, Current #1 seed in AFC
The Patriots bring a ton of experience to the conversation. The Patriots are led by three-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady who continues to play at high level in his 15th year in the league. In recent seasons, the defense was this team’s Achilles’ heel. The addition of free agent cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner has stabilized New England’s secondary and the defense as a whole.
Working against the Patriots is the lack of a consistent running game. As the winter months approach and the weather deteriorates, running the ball is increasingly important. This team has had flashes, but there is no running back on that roster that could be seen as a reliable option. You can never count out New England though. We’ve seen them make the Super Bowl in the past with less than impressive rushing attacks.
Denver Broncos, 10-3, Current #2 seed in the AFC
The Broncos, last year’s AFC representative in the Super Bowl, are playing like they haven’t missed a beat. After their defense was exposed in that Super Bowl, the Broncos went out in the offseason and acquired top line defensive players Demarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, and T.J. Ward. Denver also used its 2014 1st round draft pick on a defensive back.
Further, the Broncos may have recently discovered a gem in running back C.J. Anderson. Undrafted in 2013, Anderson has run for at least 150 yards in two of the last three games. If the Broncos are able to get that sort of production from Anderson in January, they are going to be hard to beat. The Broncos already feature, arguably, the greatest quarterback ever to put on a uniform in Peyton Manning. Adding a potent running game to this Broncos team will create a two-headed monster that will be impossible to contain.
Arizona Cardinals, 10-3. Current #1 seed in NFC
Arizona got off to a hot start at 9-1 on the backs of terrific defense and a fairly effective offensive attack. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, they lost their starting quarterback, Carson Palmer, a few weeks ago for the remainder of the season due to a knee injury. Since that injury, Arizona has dropped two of the last three games at a time when other NFC teams are surging.
The Cardinals did themselves a huge favor this past Sunday by beating a good Kansas City Chiefs team. While showing they can still hang in there against quality NFL competition, the absence of quarterback Carson Palmer is probably going to be too big of a hurdle to overcome. With the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks hot on their tail in the division, there is no guarantee this Cardinals team even makes the playoffs let alone a Super Bowl.
We’ve seen teams win a Super Bowl without a great quarterback in the past, but those teams did so with defenses that were outright dominant. While the Cardinals field a very good defense, they aren’t so good as to carry them throughout an entire playoff race.
Green Bay Packers, 9-3, Current #2 seed in the NFC
At the time of this article’s writing, the Packers have yet to play a Monday night home game against Atlanta. We fully expect the Packers to be sitting at 10-3 on Tuesday morning.
Green Bay is perhaps the hottest team in the NFL. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is in the prime of his career and making a strong case that it is he, and not Peyton Manning, that is the best quarterback in the league. While there are different schools of thought in that debate, what isn’t up for argument is the fact that Rodgers can make throws that no other quarterback in the league can manage. His ability to escape pressure and throw accurately on the run is unmatched in the NFL.
If Green Bay has a weakness, it’s on the defensive side of the ball. The Packers defense isn’t bad, but they aren’t winning games on their own either. If Aaron Rodgers has a bad game, the Packers are pretty much doomed. However, as Rodgers is a very consistent player, poor outings are few and far between.
As far as momentum goes, Green Bay has it right now. If they are able to capture that #1 seed, they will have the home field throughout the playoffs in freezing Green Bay, Wisconsin. If that happens, this gives Green Bay a huge advantage playing in those conditions. Not only are they used to it, but also the Packers feature a big bruising running back in Eddie Lacy whose style is perfectly suited to those conditions.
The familiar cry from the crowd was duly heard across the Premier League this weekend. Newcastle’s Steven Taylor was the first one off picking up his second yellow card after 81 minutes in Saturday’s early clash against Chelsea. Toon held a flattering 2-0 lead at that point, thanks to substitute Cisse’s clinical finishing. Unbeatable Chelsea had their chances, by all means, but lacked a final product before Drogba headed home a Fabregas free kick. However, Toon army served Mourinho his first Premier League defeat of the season nonetheless.
Charlie Austin has been of fire as of late and was extremely vital to Ranger’s 2-0 win over Burnley. However, after serving up an assist and a goal, he was sent off. QPR held on though and we have to give some credit to Robert Green who made a couple of astonishing saves.
Nobody looks forward to Stoke away, and Arsenal felt why on Saturday. Bojan is in fantastic form and was a significant factor to Stoke’s 3-0 half time lead. Arsenal scored twice in the second half, but when Chambers was shown his second yellow the uphill battle became too steep. The Gunner’s fans were NOT happy with Wenger as he boarded the train back to London.
On Sunday the red cards flew once again as Fabianski clipped Sakho on his way through and Konchesky was sent off at Villa Park. Andy Carroll headed West Ham to victory and Alan Hutton of all people secured three points for Aston Villa.
On a controversial note, Mangala could’ve been sent off against Everton kicking Etoo in the spine. A yellow card was shown and moments later Milner went down in the area. The soft penalty was converted by Yaya Toure and City closed the gap to Chelsea by three points. However, Aguero picked up an injury and is out for about a month. How will city cope without their top striker?
That’s the name of the dominant force in our Fantasy League for the past few months now, Control Alt Da Laet. Thiago Neto and his quick fix team is in the lead with 779 points. Behind follows Kamil Rukiewicz with his team AR and Daniel Sauerwein and his team FC Banana Phone (lol).
Play time is over in the Premier League and thusly the Guts Gaming Fantasy League, as December is packed with Game Weeks! Now is the time to step up and make those crucial transfers securing your team vital points. But first, here are the winners in November:
1. Cardiff Dragons (David Saunders) - 272 p - £100
2. Control Alt Da Laet (Tiago Neto) - 257 p - £60
3. le Saux Solid Crew (Jake lenahan) - 248 p - £40
All winners must contact email@example.com with their team name, Guts account name and a subject line reading “Fantasy League” within 14 days to claim their prize.
Have you set up your team in time for Gameweek 14? It’s on tonight!
A green little meanie is lurking around Santa’s Mansion with a sinister grin across his face. What does the Grinch have in store today? Well, there is only one way to find out!
So if you haven’t already, go to Santa’s Mansion and help the Grinch complete his daily task! Use the arrows on your keyboard to move around the Mansion and press spacebar to complete the task. We don’t want to spoil any surprises, but as mean as the Grinch seems, he will reward you for your help! In his sack he has a bundle of free spins, bonuses and even competitions! Every day a new task, every day a new prize! It doesn’t matter if you prefer casino or sportsbook, there will be something for everyone. It’s Christmas after all!
To be eligible for our Christmas offers, you would have to have made a deposit of €20 (£20, $20, 200 kr) and wagered it in the casino between 24/11 - 30.11.2014. If you’re not yet eligible, don’t worry, just deposit €20, wager it and you will get the offer the following day and all days until Christmas Eve!
Remember to Stuff your Stocking!
Every day from now until 24/12, you can stuff your stocking with 10 free spins! Just deposit €20 (£20, $20, 200 kr), wager it in the casino sometime during each day and see your stocking grow! These Stocking Spins will become playable on Christmas Morning, 25/12 at 12.00 CET. That means you could wake up to 240 free spins! To see the game of the day and how many free spins you have stuffed, click the stocking in the top left corner of the Christmas site.
Come celebrate Christmas with us!
Arsenal is back on track after 2 straight defeats in the Premier League at the hands of Manchester United and Swansea. In mid-week they defeated a crisis-struck Dortmund in the Champions League and this Saturday Arsene Wenger’s lads grabbed three points at the Hawthornes. West Brom away is not the easiest of matches but Arsenal was dominant. However, they took their sweet time before Dat Guy Welbs headed home the winner. Berahino came close to snagging a point, but his header off Gamboa’s cross ricocheted off the bar.
And wouldn’t you know, even Liverpool won this weekend! Even more surprising was the sacrifice shown by whipping boy Glen Johnson as he headed home a rebound. Liverpool was pretty unspectacular and Bojan could well have sent Stoke ahead, but his shot cannoned back off the post. Liverpool face Leicester away tomorrow and will have to put in an effort to get anything from that game.
Joe Cole had a brilliant game on the Villa midfield against newcomer Burnley. His goal was not enough to secure the victory as Danish defender Okore brought down Jutkiewicz and red hot Danny Ings converted the penalty with ease. Piping hot as well as always is the latest Guts sports promotion. Don't miss out!
Swansea only managed a draw at home against Crystal Palace, despite Gylfi Sigurdsson’s best efforts. West Ham beat Newcastle and QPR grabbed a win at home against Leicester, much thanks to Charlie Austin. Manchester United dismantled a very poor Hull at Old Trafford as the Tigers gave away three goals, not taking away anything from top-class finishing by Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie.
Sunderland managed to stop the Chelsea-train, holding the would-be champions to a goalless draw. Connor Wickham and Adam Johnson even had chances to steal the victory, but they lacked a finishing touch.
On Sunday, Tottenham beat Everton thanks to a Danish rebound and a rare goal by Soldado. Kevin Mirallas gave Everton the lead with a screamer, but Spurs turned it around before half time. Earlier that day Manchester City pulverized Southampton by 3 goals to nil. Saints failed their first big test after their stunning opening to the season and Arsenal away on Wednesday might see Koeman’s men struggling again.
The Premier League continues tomorrow and we’ll even sort out who’s Manager of the Month in November in our Guts Gaming Fantasy League. Stay tuned!