Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Looking forward to 2013!

The 2012 regular season is behind us and the first round of the playoffs are in the books. The 8 teams left are some of the strongest in the league so we should be setup for a fantastic finish. As usual, the divisional playoff storylines are exciting and the conference championship games will be even better!

We’d like to thank you for your continued support of free-pools.com. Later this month, we will be offering our first “Props” pool just in time for SuperBowl. We’re very excited about this new type of pool and will alert everyone via newsletter.

After that, we plan on offering a recurring PGA pool plus any others we – or you! – can dream up. Feel free to share your thoughts with us on what you would like to see.

Wishing everyone a healthy and prosperous 2013!

The team at Free-Pools.com 

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Did you know?

The end of the year is a time to look back and reflect.  Let's look at some stats from this football season.

bubbamike is poised to take home the year end victory.  With 162 correct picks, he is 3 ahead of jason.mclean99 and 6 picks ahead of 3rd place Todd.  bubbamike has not missed one week this year and is averaging 10.12 correct picks per week.

Looking at all people with picks entered in five or more weeks this season, six are averaging better than bubbamike.  They are:

shagdog - 10.69 (missed 3 weeks)
dabears14 - 10.44 (missed 7 weeks)
Lanny - 10.33 (missed 10 weeks)
Dunkil - 10.27 (missed 5 weeks)
HABSSTEELERS - 10.10 (missed 6 weeks)
ibishop - 10.08 (missed 4 weeks)

HABSSTEELERS showing off
his Week 9 winnings :)
Some people didn't learn about free-pools until later in the season, which is why we created the November and December pools.  Others have missed the occasional week or two.  The lesson learned here is get your picks in!

Here is a complete list of averages for all entrants with five weeks or more.

username Average
shagdog 10.69
dabears14 10.44
Lanny 10.33
Dunkil 10.27
HABSSTEELERS 10.10
ibishop 10.08
bubbamike 10.12
diverrob01 10.00
Saravin 9.87
Lightning Strikes 9.85
Cowboys4ever 9.85
jason.mclean99@gmail.com 9.81
manBEAST 9.80
ggronk 9.75
porn queen 9.67
Vinnymac 9.67
Todd 9.63
Bacardi Bob 9.62
rokell04 9.56
kalvinator 9.56
flea flicker 9.53
Alola 9.53
Inky5050 9.50
almonf 9.50
Wad Squad 9.46
mcopus 9.38
matt0028 9.38
nthode 9.38
The Shiva 9.31
ladyluck 9.27
wapster62 9.25
rabidwolf 9.25
Murraygirl 9.08
brockhaywood 9.07
kb 9.00
PJAMAS 8.94
Bills2013 8.88
saraminda 8.80
Joeyohe 8.71
aizee 8.71
The Messiah 8.69
wattsup 8.44
tresnuts 8.40
Broadzilla 8.33
Kcpurple 8.25
Jonesy50 8.13
Taco 7.90
rws 7.57
nparkhill66 7.33
CalgaryScout 7.29
Mkuromi 6.40

Although bubbamike has a large advantage in the year end pool, the December pool is down to the wire.  shagdog, jason.mclean99, Alola, manBEAST, bubbamike and Inky5050 are all well in the running so make sure to get your picks in!

Happy Holidays to you all and enjoy the last week of the football season.  We have a bunch of new pool types in development including some special SuperBowl pools so check back often!




Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Week 15 - What is Roger Goodell doing?

Roger Goodell has taken a tough job and made it even tougher.  The early part of his career as commissioner of the National Football League will be seen as a time he had issues – a lot of them.  Everything from the replacement ref’s fiasco, to the player uproar of an 18-game season, the unpopular Thursday night games and most recently, the whole Saints bounty case.

The last one will cause most of his criticism as he had to bring in the ex-commissioner to rule on the decisions which were overturned.  Paul Tagliabue didn’t come right out say it but he strongly hinted that what Goddell did was wrong (http://articles.mcall.com/2012-12-17/sports/mc-tagiabue-goodell-1217-20121217_1_bounty-program-jonathan-vilma-anthony-hargrove).  So, not only are the players turning against him, the ex-commissioner is throwing him under the bus too.

What will save him?

David Stern
One needs only look at the NBA.  Long-time commissioner David Stern has been under criticism for much of his career but his poise and confidence allows it to roll off his shoulders (at least publicly).  But what will save Goddell is not duplicating Stern’s approach to criticism, it is to put the best product on the field every year.  David Stern has promoted the heck out of the unbelievable talent the NBA has right now.  From old pro’s like Kobe and Garnett, to the in-their-prime superstars Lebron and Wade, to the supremely talented up-and-comers Durant, Griffin, Westbrook and Rose,Stern’s plan is to market this talent internationally and promote the rivalries.

For the last number of years, the Christmas Day NBA lineup reads like an all-star game and this year is no different.  Boston starts off playing at the Brooklyn Nets who are in their inaugural season, the 2 biggest markets face-off with the Knicks at the Lakers, and the up-and-coming Thunder travel to Miami to face the leagues best one-two punch.  Any of those matchups would be considered game-of-the-night and are part of NBA’s monster Christmas Day lineup.

What can Goddell learn?  That he’s got a similar mix of players:  Brady and Peyton;  Rodgers and Eli;  Griffin and Luck.  He’s also got another ace up his sleeve with the other rookie QB’s that are far exceeding expectations:  Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Kirk Cousins.  All 3 of them continue with monster seasons, big upsets and highlight-reel plays.

If Goddell can learn to harness the popularity of these players and their teams, he’ll find the product is more sought after than it is right now.  If he highlighted these match-ups on opening day, changed the sacred Thanksgiving Dallas and Detroit games, and only put the biggest rivalries on Sunday and Monday Night Football, the games can start to become events which leads to stronger advertising, better press and excited fans.  A great example is the flex-scheduling switching of the San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks Week 16 game to Sunday Night.  It is a what-did-you-do-for-more-lately world we live in, and highlighting the best team and individual match ups every week will keep everyone wanting.

Roger Goodell
Some would argue this takes away from the pure aspects of the game.  I say that the game hasn’t changed but the environment has.  If Goodell wants to continue to be under fire, he will leave things the way they are and keep focusing on the daily issues.  If he wants to dig himself out from the under pile, he will strongly become the face of the league, promote the heck out of the talent and make it look like it was his idea all along.  Stern has done it masterfully for many years and Goodell has the basis of a product that allow him to easily do that.

It’s a simple formula right?  Keep the players happy, keep the owners happy and keep the fans happy.  Oh wait, that’s actually a very, very complex formula…..

Roger Goddell has a tough job.

Get your picks in now for Week 16 - $100 on the line!

Thanks for reading.

KB

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Week 13 - MVP thoughts....



As the regular season is in the home stretch, it’s time to start talking about awards.

Rookies Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III
photo cred: Associated Press

Yet again, there is a two-horse race between Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.  Fittingly, they were selected 1 and 2 in the NFL draft and are now duking it out for potential Rookie Of The Year honors.  Both solidified their arguments with stellar performances this past weekend.  Andrew Luck, down by 2 scores late in the game, rallied his team back and left the Detroit Lions reeling.  Two drives of 70+ yards got the Colts the win – the last touchdown coming as time expired.  Dare I say it was shades of Peyton Manning.

RGIII had an equally stellar performance against the New York Giants on Monday Night.  The home crowd was going crazy and rightfully so:  Griffin owned the game right from the opening kickoff, running an old-school college option formation that befuddled New York.  Several times, he pitched off the cutting running back and late in the game, did a fake toss and ran it himself for a big gain.  All of the NFC East opponents have to be dreading seeing his poise, running skills and play making abilities that will haunt them for the next 12+ years.

Defensive Rookie Of The Year has to be a slam dunk for Houston’s J. J. Watt.  He ranks second in sacks with a whopping 16.5, second only to San Francisco’s Aldon Smith.  What sets him apart is his 14 passes defended (zero for Smith) and 14.5 tackles for a loss (two for Smith).  He has been a key contributor on a defense that has the Houston Texans in the AFC driver’s seat with an 11-1 record.

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning
In any other year, both Luck and Griffin could be considered on the short-list for overall league MVP.  But like years past, it has to be a battle between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.  Brady is putting up record personal numbers for himself and continually leads his team to victories – including a 4-game span where they averaged 47.5 points per game.  Peyton Manning has overcome a series of off-season neck surgeries to lead the Denver Broncos on their current 8 game winning streak and put them first place in their division.  Here is a in-depth comparison of these two personalities: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmonsnfl2010/week18picks&sportCat=nfl.  If the football gods shine down on the fans, we will see these two future hall-of-famers meet up in the playoffs.

It will be an exciting end to the season and I predict more highlight-reel performances from all of these potential award winners.

Remember that monthly point leaders win $200 each and every month!  So get your picks in every week.  Thanks for reading :)

Friday, 30 November 2012

Week 12 in the NFL - Play of the year?

The week 12 recap is about what many are arguing is the play of the year:  Ray Rice’s 30-yard run on 4th and 29 to setup a game tying field goal in the Baltimore win over San Diego.  The complete video can be seen at http://www.nfl.com/videos/baltimore-ravens/0ap2000000101328/Double-Coverage-Was-Rice-s-4th-and-29-conversion-the-play-of-the-year  but let’s break it down a little further. 

With the Ravens behind by 3 late in the fourth quarter, they were facing a long 4th and 29.  They could not kick a field goal from that distance so had no choice but to go for it.  Not surprisingly, they sent 4 receivers on “9” patterns which is a basic go route. San Diego was the at the ready with most of the secondary playing 25 yards off the line of scrimmage.  Ray Rice stayed back to block but as is usual with a limited pass rush, the back slips out in a bubble route and stops underneath coverage.  I’m sure he didn’t expect to get the ball but Flacco made a good decision to throw it quickly rather than letting the secondary blanket his receivers even more.

Ray Rice got a good 10 yards upfield before encountering any defenders as they were all overplaying the receivers.  What makes the play great is his sharp cut to his left which left a couple of defenders tripping over himself.  He immediately cut on  a hard angle to try to make the first down marker.  At 10 yards out, it must have felt makeable but a couple of defenders were closing fast.  Give Anquan Boldin as much credit as Ray Rice for his crushing block that allowed Ray to cover the last few yards.  The silent crowd could only watch as he seemingly crossed the first down marker by a good 2 yards.  Adding to the situation, the referees reviewed the play, decided to re-spot the ball and measure again.  The result was official, he cleared the first down marker easily.  Baltimore went on to kick the game tying field goal and after a few possessions each in overtime, the Ravens kicked the game winner with time running out.

San Diego has to be speechless right now.  They had a great chance to steal this game – not just on this play but multiple times in OT.  A disappointing season for them just got worse and Ray Rice may be holding a trophy-that-doesn’t-exist for play of the year.

This play reminded me another long 4th down play from 2004 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOEq7p4r00U) from the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers NFC Divisional playoff game.  Green Bay was leading by 3 when Philadelphia took over late in the game.  After 2 incompletions, a false start and a sack, the Eagles were faced with a long 4th and 26.  Like Baltimore, they were way out of field goal range and running out of time so had no choice but to go for it.  The play (74 Double Go) called for a slant route to wide receiver Freddie Mitchell.  Donovan McNabb threw a perfect strike to Mitchell deep into the Packers’ secondary.  The defensive coverage was a Cover 2, which allowed the receiver to blow past the first defender and get in front of the deep ones.  For some reason, the secondary was playing to avoid an even longer play but allowed Philadelphia to convert on an impossibly long play.  The home crowd went nuts and the Eagles connected on a field goal a few plays later forcing the game to overtime.  Brett Favre was intercepted in OT which setup the winning Philadelphia goal which sent the team to their 3rd starting NFC Championship game.  They lost that game but 4th and 26 will live on as one of the most memorable plays in Eagles history.

Thanks for reading!

Hopefully you already got your picks in for Week 13 - but if not, you can still do it here  : http://free-pools.com/index.php/groups/viewgroup/2-weekly-football-pick-em (you'll be down two but you still might have a chance at the $100 prize)




Friday, 16 November 2012

Week 10 - rattled heads rattle the league

Alex Smith concussion causing hit. (Paul Kitagaki Jr. / AP)
Week 10 was a startling week of injuries that have many teams scrambling. Top of the list was the excessive number of concussions suffered by quarterbacks - Alex Smith (San Fransisco), Michael Vick (Philedelphia) and Jay Cutler (Chicago). These are dangerous injuries and the teams are doing the right thing by showing extreme caution. It’s sad to hear that this injury isn’t easily diagnosed as seen by Alex Smith’s reports that he threw a touchdown pass while seeing double after the hit he took.

What’s even more concerning is the recent focus on concussions over the past few years has increased the number of reports of this injury. The game has not dramatically changed from the previous 40 years, so it’s clear that players have suffered concussions for a long time. I remember in the 90’s watching games and a team would report “he had some cobwebs and shook it off” before a player returned to a game. It’s no wonder that retired players are now seeking compensation and better medical coverage after their playing days are over.  It also isn't just football that is struggling to prevent and treat the plaque of concussions.  The NHL has had several superstars cut their career's short due to debilitating concussions and that league has also had to re-evaluate some of its rules accordingly.  Some say it is the equipment, some say it the ruthless competitive spirit of high stakes professional sports and some say it is sheer size of the leagues that results in desperate, mediocre players matched up against truly skilled players.

The other impact this has on teams is the quality of their backup quarterback. A few teams have given this a lot of attention but many are simply left scrambling when their starter goes down. This week, several backups will get first team reps in practice so hopefully they will be better prepared this weekend.  Philadelphia's Nick Foles is gearing up to have his first career NFL start on Sunday.  The other teams haven't made a call yet. The point has been brought up in the Luck vs RGIII comparison that RGIII's ability to run, which makes him a fantastic quarterback, will also be his biggest down-fall, because it makes him more vulnerable to career-ending hits. 

I hope that the injured players are not rushed back too quickly and end up with longer-term issues.  When you hear about stories like that of Detroit's Jahvid Best you begin to understand how serious even one concussion is.  Best has been removed from the roster for 2012 after suffering his 3rd concussion (http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/blog/nfl-rapidreports/20793922/lions-concussion-issues-sideline-rb-jahvid-best-for-the-2012-season).

Week 11 is going to be a really interesting week for fantasy pools and oddsetters with 2nd string quarterbacks or fragile 1st string quarterbacks changing up the game play. But more importantly, we wish all the players a safe and positive recovery.

Link for Week 11 NFL weekly pool menu - $100 to most correct picks :)  http://www.free-pools.com/index.php/make-your-picks

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Week 9 in the NFL - Record breaking Rookies!!

Week 9 was a week of record-breaking rookie performances and veterans putting on clinics.

The Colts  rookie quarterback Andrew Luck continues to amaze through his first few games as a pro.  He set an NFL rookie passing record on Sunday throwing for 433 yards.  He bested Cam Newton's 2011 rookie single-game passing record by one-yard.  Watching the game, it's clear that Luck can read the field very quickly and has such a fast release that even defenders with a clear shot at a sack, cannot get to him in time.  Indianapolis has to be very happy so far and are setting their sights on a potential playoff run!  The gamble they made in the draft really seems to be paying off.  We may look back in a couple of years and wonder why we were even mentioning Griffin in the same conversations as Luck.  That is a bold statement that is probably way too early to say out loud - but I stand by it!

Adam Bettcher/Getty Images
Tampa Bay's Doug Martin is originally from the Oakland area.  For the Sunday game against the Raiders, he got 90 seats for friends and family to watch the game and he did not disappoint! He ran a  crazy, franchise-record 251-yards, including 4 rushing touchdowns. His performance the previous Thursday hinted that he had something special, but no one predicted an explosion like this.  Teams will be adjusting quickly to stop the Buccaneers running game, so we’ll see how the rookie handles the extra defensive attention.

Veteran quarterback Peyton Manning continues to amaze!  Even in the defeats early in the year, when Denver found themselves behind by double-digits early on, Peyton battled the team back.  The Broncos didn’t win many of those games, but it was clear he could score points in a hurry. The last two games have been classic Peyton - where he is putting on a clinic against zone, man-to-man and run-block defenses.  With due credit to Adrian Peterson, Peyton Manning deserves the title of comeback player of the year.

Are the Atlanta Falcons the quietest 8-0 team in the history of the NFL?  There isn't a lot of attention being paid to their potentially historic run with many experts still criticizing their running game and special teams.   Reading some of the Falcon player snippets, it’s clear that they don’t care.  All they want to do is stay healthy and grab the #1 seed in the NFC.  Looking at their schedule, other than a game at Carolina on Dec. 9, they are playing in warm weather or in a dome.  With the #1 seed, they won’t have leave the comfort of indoors after Dec. 9 – and by the way, the SuperBowl is being played in New Orleans Mercedes-Benz Superdome!  Dare we say 19-0?

Thanks for reading!

Thursday's game has gone by - but that may not matter.  Get your picks in for week 10 if you haven't already: http://free-pools.com/index.php/groups/viewgroup/2-weekly-football-pick-em