Our Final Installment: Week 17 NFL Predictions

Like it or not, all eyes are on Tony Romo this week.

Like it or not, all eyes are on Tony Romo this week.

Can you believe it? We are already in week 17 of the NFL season and the new year is right around the corner. The smell of playoff football is in the air; who will be peaking at the right time to make it to the Super Bowl?

I will commend the NFL on doing the scheduling changes a few years ago, I love watching meaningful games in the last week of the season. Dallas v Washington for the division?! Two years in a row Cowboy fans. Is this year going to be different?

For fantasy reasons, I love watching players play meaningful games in week 15, 16 & 17 because it allows me to win my fantasy football league. Won 1 of 4 – not bad. Pay me Long Island Sound!

From the Cover 4 to our readers, thank you for following along this season; it has had its ups and downs and plenty of changes to meet the demands of our fans but we have enjoyed every minute of it.

THE COVER 4: PHI, CHI, GB, WAS

We hope that you continue to read our website and follow along for some of the best, and most interesting, sports articles out there right now. We aren’t your typical mainstream sports website ; we are for the fans, by the fans. Period!

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New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills (-3) 

Jesse – NYJ –  Both teams are terrible, so I’ll take the points.

Long Island Sound – NYJ – Sanchez will provide a good performance versus a below average defense to prove his worth.

Plumb – NYJ – With McElroy out and Sanchez back, this may be Sanchez’s last time to prove he can play in the big leagues.

James – NYJ – Mark Sanchez is going to play the best game of his life…… maybe?

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Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots (-10)

Jesse – MIA – I expect Miami to play New England tough and cover the 10 points.

Long Island Sound – NE – Hate big lines, but Miami going to NE never works out well for them.

Plumb – MIA – Well last time around New England overlooked Miami and division games are always tough to win, let alone cover. Dolphins make one last push to cap off a decent season.

James – NE – I like Coach Billy in this matchup; coach always wants to send a message.

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Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals (-2½)

Jesse – BAL – Baltimore destroyed the Bengals back in their Week 1 meeting, and they should be playing for playoff momentum after their drudging of the Giants last week. Baltimore’s the better team & getting points.

Long Island Sound – CIN –  Baltimore is a pretender that faced a Giants team that has been rolling over for the last 2 weeks.

Plumb – CIN – After coming off impressive wins and clinching playoff berths, Cincy is the only team in this matchup that has something to play for.

James – BAL – Maybe its my perception, and familiarity, with the AFC North but I know that when it matters Baltimore will beat the Bungals. I like AJ Green a lot but I think the Ravens cover in this one.

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Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers (No Line)

Jesse – PIT – Pittsburgh is out of the playoff hunt, but I don’t expect Tomlin’s team to quit. They should cover whatever number the casinos put up with Cleveland starting Thaddeus Lewis (who?) at QB & Montario Hardesty at RB.

Long Island Sound – PIT – Cleveland’s 3rd string QB versus a disgruntled Mike Tomlin.

Plumb – PIT – Tomlin will have the team ready for this week after last week disappointing loss. Expect Steelers blowout.

James – PIT – Steelers rarely lose to the Browns; it won’t happen twice in one year….

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Houston Texans (-7) @ Indianapolis Colts

Jesse – HOU – Houston NEEDS this win to lock up #1 in the AFC while Indy is locked into the 5th-seed no matter what. On top of that, Houston was flat-out embarrassed by the Vikings at home last week. If they want to prove to the nation that they’re a true contender, it starts this Sunday.

Long Island Sound – IND – Andrew Luck at home.

Plumb – IND – Both are jocking for seeding but Indy is tough at home and getting points makes it even more enticing. The Colts have Luck on their side.

James – HOU – I like Indy but I think Houston takes care of business this week and gets things rolling into the playoffs. If Houston doesn’t cover, it will be because the Colts get a garbage td or two.

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Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tennessee Titans (-4½)

Jesse – JAC – Jacksonville showed life last week vs. Patriots, while Tennessee wet the bed at Green Bay. I refuse to lay more than 4 points with this Tennessee squad after last week’s performance.

Long Island Sound – JAC – Henne has this team playing hard.

Plumb – JAC – Well the worst game on the schedule this week and someone’s gotta win. I’ll take the points just because Henne is showing he can still play and will be fighting for a job next season.

James – JAC – Toilet Bowl of Week 17.

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Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants (-7½)

Jesse – PHI – One of Philly’s 4 wins this season was against these NY Giants and came with Vick at the helm & McCoy in the backfield. Well, they’re back & there’s no reason they can’t keep this game close and cover the TD+ or even perhaps win.

Long Island Sound – PHI – Giants at home against a divisional opponent. Vick gives the Giants trouble.

Plumb – PHI – After Philly lost Nick Foles last week to injury, Vick is back which means two things: unpredictability and dog fighting (j/k PETA). Tough division matchup and the ½ is always a favorites kryptonite. This is a dog’s game (Corny Mike Vick humor). Eagles cover and Vick proves he is still a starter in the League.

James – PHI – This game scares me because the Giants are so unpredictable. I think Vick comes out and takes care of business in his last game in Phili.

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Chicago Bears (-3) @ Detroit Lions

Jesse – CHI – Chicago needs this win +MINN loss to make the playoffs as the 6th-seed, so they’ll be ready for this contest. Pro-bowl CB Tim Jennings (shoulder) should be back & RB Forte (ankle) is optimistic about playing while Detroit is reeling having lost 7-straight.

Long Island Sound – CHI – Cutler and Marshall are in a groove that will not be stopped by the Lions D.

Plumb – CHI – Tough defense, must win game, and Brandon Marshall. Too many factors against the home team in this one.

James – CHI – MUST WIN. Time to put up or shut up Chicago.

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Green Bay Packers (-3) @ Minnesota Vikings

Jesse – GB – Green Bay is ready for their playoff run & earning a 1st round bye would bode well for them. Since starting the season 2-3, Packers have only lost 1 game. They’ll get Minnesota’s best efforts, but they won’t be enough. Green Bay will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

Long Island Sound – GB – Finally healthy and Rodgers is back to his unreal form.

Plumb – GB – A very important game for both teams in this matchup. Minnesota fighting for the last playoff berth alongside AP attempting to break the single season rushing record, and Green Bay attempting to clinch a first round bye with a W. Expect this to be a hard nose and close game. Deciding factor: Aaron Rodgers dominant play in domes.

James – GB – I really hope AP can break this record but my PRESEASON Super Bowl pick is looking pretty good right now. I think Rodgers gives the Viking defense his discount double check.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons (No Line)

Jesse – TB – There’s no line on this game because Atlanta might rest their starters. They’ve locked up home-field in the NFC and have no reason to play for anything. I’ll take Tampa, especially if they’re getting points.

Long Island Sound – ATL – Ryan and the Falcons at home. Don’t believe they will sit starts much based on previous playoff woes.

Plumb – ATL – Atlanta is tough at home as they are undefeated in the Georgia Dome.

James – ATL – I don’t care if Chris Chandler is going to be playing quarterback this week, I can’t take the shaky and free-falling Buccs. ATL will play its players for the majority of this one as they aren’t going to rest for two weeks.

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Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints (-5)

Jesse – CAR (ML +205) – I personally think these two teams are relatively even. Carolina’s actually been playing better of late –winners of 3-straight — so I’m getting value with the Panthers, as the spread should be NO -3. Carolina will win this game outright saving Ron Rivera’s job.

Long Island Sound – NO – Should be a shoot-out, but Brees should cover here.

Plumb – CAR – Panthers defense > Saints defense. Plus Carolina has won 3 straight.

James – CAR – Carolina may not get the W but they cover in this one.

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Kansas City Chiefs @ Denver Broncos (-16)

Jesse – KC – I cannot get myself to lay 16 points, even if it’s with the perceived “best team in the NFL.”

Long Island Sound – KC – Too big of a spread.

Plumb – KC – Wow this spread is high. I expect Peyton and Co. to play till halftime and call it a day. If this happens, expect KC to capitalize.

James – KC – I know the Chiefs are bad, and I mean bad. I realize the Broncos are really good. I just don’t wanna put 16 on this game. I’ll stay conservative and take KC.

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Oakland Raiders @ San Diego Chargers (No Line)

Jesse – SD – Oakland has quit. Before beating KC two weeks ago, Oakland was losers of 6-straight. They didn’t score a single TD in their 15-0 win over KC in that aforementioned meeting & failed to score a TD last week vs. Panthers. To add insult to injury, Terrelle Pryor will be starting for the injured Palmer (ribs).

Long Island Sound – SD – Just a bad game with a bad team and a very undisciplined team. I’ll take the potential versus the bad.

Plumb – SD – Are you putting your hard earned money on the Oakland Raiders? Yeah, neither am I because I can’t trust them.

James – SD – Norv Turner and AJ Smith get a W in their last game with the organization; Turner has already said he is okay with being an OC again after this year. Smell Yah.

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Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers (-16½)

Jesse – SF – Ok, I lied; I will lay -16 in certain situations. Maybe this is me betting with my heart; maybe not. This season following a loss or tie, the 49ers have beaten their opponents by a combined score of 106-26.

Long Island Sound – ARI – Not taking that line in the NFL out of principle.

Plumb – ARI – This is probably the hardest game to pick this week. On one hand you have the Niners who must win to clinch the division as well as a potential second seed in the conference. My only question is how hard are they going to play the Cards without risking injury? Then you have the Cards who may or may not show up at home let alone score a point. The gut wants the Niners but the numbers say Cards.

James – ARI – 16+? What? Luckily its week 17 and this will be the first, and last, time I think the Cardinals will do something good.

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St. Louis Rams @ Seattle Seahawks (-10½)

Jesse – SEA – If Seattle wins this game and 49ers somehow slip up and lose vs. Cardinals, then Seattle wins the NFC West and the #3 seed in the NFC. They have everything to play for, and are playing extremely well especially down in the trenches.

Long Island Sound – STL – This team finds ways to cover.

Plumb – SEA – I made this mistake last week and it burned me. SEAHAWKS AT HOME = WIN.

James – SEA – I don’t think I can go any other way with the way this team has been playing.

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Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins (-3)

Jesse – WAS – Stop me when you’ve heard this before: Dallas in a must-win? I’ll take the other side.

Long Island Sound – WAS – Washington looking to capture a division title will be ready to play.

Plumb – WAS – Dallas Cowboys! Big Games! Tony Romo fumbling meaningful snaps! Means one thing: Choke artists. Skins win and take the Division.

James – WAS – Maybe this is the year the Cowboys finally win a meaningful game at the end of the season? Naw, I’m going RGIII.

Christmas Money: NFL Week 16 Picks

Russell Wilson and the Seahawks play one of the biggest games of the year against the 49ers.

Russell Wilson and the Seahawks play one of the biggest games of the year against the 49ers.

It’s the Friday before Christmas and The Cover 4 is giving away free gifts. Yup, we are giving you the weekly dosage of NFL picks. While some of us have been in the money, others (cough Long Island Sound cough cough) lost his whole trust fund after a disastrous week 15. Thats why I love football because anyone can win any week; I think I say that all the time.

I am sad that the NFL regular season will be over and we won’t be bringing you all of the NFL picks and predictions BUT we will be coming out with a number of awesome articles. We want to be different and we are going to show you why The Cover 4 is different!

This weeks Cover 4: PIT, KC, WASH, NYG 

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Atlanta Falcons (-3½) @ Detroit Lions

General Peppers – DET +3½ – With the NFC South locked up, and the 49ers two games back, I see no reason for Atlanta to go all in like they did against the Giants.

Jesse– DET (ML)  – I’ll take the home-dog on Saturday night. Detroit coming off an embarrassing loss (right, Kake?) will bounce back in a big way vs. #1 seed in the NFC. Detroit wins outright.

Long Island Sound – ATL -3½ – DET makng too many mistakes and ATL looking to finalize at home.

Plumb – ATL -3½ – Atlanta proven they’re a top tier team this year, why not show it in a blow out over Det.

James – ATL –3½ – I bet against ATL last week and for DET. Both moves making me look ridiculous thus I am taking ATL. 

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Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers (- 3½) 

General Peppers – PIT -3½ – Simple: both teams have to win this game. Pittsburgh is a better team.

Jesse – PIT -3½ – This was a tough game to handicap. I just don’t see Cincy getting over the hump, and Pittsburgh wins their 6th straight meeting.

Long Island Sound – PIT -3½ – Now or never for the Steelers.

Plumb – PIT +3½ – Love PIT especially when they have their backs against the wall. Cincy will be tough but Steelers have won 72% of the time against the Bengals and control their destiny at home. Numbers say Bengals but can’t go against the home team with everything on the line. Caution Big Ben at work.

James – PIT -3½ – The ½ point scares me as this game may be a three point game but I really think the Steelers take care of business here.

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New Orleans Saints @ Dallas Cowboys (-3)

General Peppers – DAL -3 – Dallas is making the playoffs and winning the NFC East. Their playoff run starts here.

Jesse – NO +3 – Dallas finally has momentum heading into a must win game. If you can trust this team, good luck.

Long Island Sound – DAL -3 – Porous D veruss offense with all the potential.

Plumb – NO +3 – My trap game of the week. Saints play spoiler in this one.

James – DAL -3 – I usually bet against the Dallas in any big game but the Saints have struggled plenty this year. Dallas getting hot at the right now.

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Tennessee Titans @ Green Bay Packers (-12½) 

General Peppers – GB -12½ – Green Bay getting healthy at the right time. Hello Jennings/Matthews/Nelson.

Jesse – TEN +12½ – Green Bay, after battling hated division rival Chicago last week, must get ready for a bad Titans team who needed 5 turnovers to beat the spiraling Jets. Following this week’s game, Packers must game plan to try to stop AP and his record breaking mentality in Minnesota. What does all this mean? Your classic sandwich game.

Long Island Sound – TEN +12½ – NFL and that many points? CJ will be able to work veruss the Packer D.

Plumb – TEN +12½ – I honestly hate NFL spreads over 10 pts. However, GB gets Matthews back which is a huge defensive boost, but they don’t have anything to play for so Titans in this one.

James – TEN +12½ – The Packers have all the weapons and will probably win but they have clinched the division. Expect Tennessee to cover.

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Indianapolis Colts (-7) @ Kansas City Chiefs

General Peppers – KC +7 – Indianapolis is a mediocre road team.

Jesse – KC +7 – Andrew Luck has 18 INTs on the year, 13 of which came on the road. I expect both teams to make mistakes and the Chiefs to cover the TD.

Long Island Sound – KC +7 – Andrew Luck away.

Plumb – KC +7 – Andrew luck has really proven his worth this year but 7 is a lot of points to lay on the road. Numbers say this is a 5 point game. KC pulls the backdoor cover in this one.

James – KC +7 – Shall I even echo what everyone else is saying? Luck has to prove he can play well on the road; tough environment in Arrowhead.

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Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins (-4½) 

General Peppers – BUF +4½ – Miami is in a free fall and looking more for a higher draft pick. Buffalo better than you think.

Jesse – MIA -4½ – Miami, who beat Seattle at home 4 weeks ago, will contain C.J. Spiller and cover the spread.

Long Island Sound – MIA -4½ – Buffalo D is horrible. 

Plumb – MIA -4½ – Miami is in win or go home mode. They have a slim chance to make the playoffs but there is a chance which can make them dangerous, and what a better team to push around than the volatile Bills. Tannehill gets it done in this one and fins too tough at home.

James – BUF (ML) – How many times will I get Miami wrong. At this point, I’m going Buff ML on the road. Dumb? Maybe but I am taking a risk.

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San Diego Chargers @ New York Jets (-2½) 

General Peppers – SD +2½ – Greg McIlory. That is all.

Jesse – SD +2½ – Well the Jets benched Mark Sanchez; that should solve all their problems. I don’t have a strong lean but this Jets team is bad and favored.

Long Island Sound – SD +2½ – Charger seem to go against conventional wisdom with traveling across the country.

Plumb – SD +2½ – Man do I hate the Jets this season. One week they look good, the next Sanchez throws 4 INTs. McElroy get the start which means Christmas comes early for the Chargers. My Game of the week.

James – SD +2½ – Too many unknowns for the Jets and their qb situation for me to take them this week.

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Washington Redskins (-6½) @ Philadelphia Eagles

General Peppers – WAS -6½ – Philly has no need to win. Washington must win.

Jesse – WAS -6½ – RGIII fully participated in practice and is expected to start & I’m not betting against him.

Long Island Sound – WAS -6½ – The Eagles gained steam 2 weeks ago in TV, but lost it all last week.

Plumb – PHI +6½ – Nick Foles is proving to me that he can play QB in the NFL on a team that has given up. I might be the only one who hasn’t given up on the Eagles this season. Skins win with RGIII back but I think Philly can cover.

James – WAS -6½ – Like I said last week, RGIII is the key to the Redskins playoff hopes. They take care of business.

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St. Louis Rams @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3)

General Peppers – TB -3 – Tampa Bay elite run defense shuts down Steven Jackson leaving the Rams offense stagnant.

Jesse – STL +3 – I wouldn’t bet this game with your money, but if I had to pick a side, I’ll take the points. Tampa Bay has lost 4 straight and is now a home favorite.

Long Island Sound – STL (ML) – Rams will keep this close.

Plumb – STL +3 – Tampa is allowing 300+ passing yards a game this year and with Bradford coming off a career game last week, I don’t expect anything less from him in this one. St. Louis has something to play for in this game while the Bucs do not. Rams get back on track and getting points only sweetens the pot.

James –  TB -3 – The Buccs need to rebound and this week they will get it done at home.

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Oakland Raiders @ Carolina Panthers (-8½) 

General Peppers – OAK +8½ – Bad teams with spreads over 7 = bad idea. Garbage time TDs will cover for Oakland.

Jesse – CAR -8½ – I know laying more than a TD with a 5-win team seems ludicrous, but I don’t trust Oakland traveling across country to play an early game.

Long Island Sound – OAK +8½ – Carolina doesn’t put teams away.

Plumb – OAK +8½ – Carolina has been hot as of late looking for their 3rd straight win. Oakland has been a rollercoaster of a team this year but with McFadden healthy and coming off a decent week, I see him keeping it close against Carolina. Also from my point of view, spreads over 7 for teams with mediocre offenses always favors the dog.

James – OAK +8½ – Im with Bru on this one. I think garbage time allows this team to cover the spread.
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New England Patriots (-14½)  @ Jacksonville Jaguars

General Peppers – JAX +14½ – I refuse to take a spread this big.

Jesse – NE -14½ – Man, I feel sorry for Jacksonville this week.

Long Island Sound – JAX +14½ – Too many points.

Plumb – JAX +14½ – As hard as it is for me to write this analysis, 14 points is a lot for a road team to give even if they are the #1 offense in the NFL. This spread scares me but I think NE overlooks JAX as they did MIA a few weeks ago.

James – NE -14½ – A lot of points here but NE knows how to step on the gas.
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Minnesota Vikings @ Houston Texans (-7½) 

General Peppers – MIN +7½ – Purple Jesus is determined to run for 150 on everyone. Keeps this game close single-handedly.

Jesse– MIN +7½ – I made the mistake of betting against AP last week.

Long Island Sound – MIN +7½ – Ponder wil be key with attention focused on AP.

Plumb – MIN +7½ – AP has been lights out and goes against a tough Houston front 4. However, if Vick Ballard can do it, AP should have a field day in this one.

James – HOU -7½ – I have been on the AP train more than anyone lately but I am taking Houston this week.

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Cleveland Browns @ Denver Broncos (-13)

General Peppers – CLE +13 – Cleveland better than you think. Denver not as good as you think.

Jesse – DEN -13 – Denver is just much more well-rounded & still playing for a first round bye.

Long Island Sound – CLE +13 – Sneaky decent team.

Plumb – CLE +13 – Being from Pittsburgh, this hurts me to say, Browns actually look good. After that being said, I still hate the Browns but their defense keeps this game close. Denver giving too much in this one.

James – CLE +13 – The Browns won’t quit in this one.

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Chicago Bears (-5½) @ Arizona Cardinals

General Peppers – ARI +5½ – Bears keep free-falling. Battered offensive line gets pressured by blitzing Cardinal defense.

Jesse – CHI -5½ – Bears will create turnovers and take advantage of Cardinals, who finally won a game last week (right, Kake?).

Long Island Sound – CHI -5½ – Bears force turnovers and the Cardinals turn the ball over.

Plumb – CHI -5½ – Chicago offense has been abysmal and facing a decent Arizona defense (minus the Seattle game). Arizona might be able to slow down the Bears, however I feel Chicago needs this game and will look to run it up.

James – CHI -5½ – Last week AZ made me look dumb. Two weeks in a row? Not happening.

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New York Giants (-2½) @ Baltimore Ravens

General Peppers – NYG -2½ – Ravens too banged up. Joe Flacco too average and Giants still elite team.

Jesse – NYG -2½ – In this virtual pick’em game, it came down to one thing for me: Which team do I trust more? I also fully expect this game to be a shootout, so I’ll sprinkle a little cheese on OVER 47½.

Long Island Sound – NYG -2½ – Must win for the Giants.

Plumb – BAL +2½ – This is an even match-up here. Baltimore needs to show some life going into the playoffs, and I feel this is the game that will get them back on track.

James – NYG -2½ – Ravens in free fall and the inconsistent Giants know how and when to turn it on. Winners this week.

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San Francisco 49ers (-1) @ Seattle Seahawks

General Peppers – SEA +1 – Seattle is unbeatable at home. Russell Wilson is Rookie of the Year.

Jesse – SF -1 – The last team to go up to Seattle and come away with a victory? Yeah, shoulda been the Packers, but it wasn’t. You guessed it, the Niners.

Long Island Sound – SEA +1 – Seahawks at home.

Plumb – SF -1 – Seattle is lights out at home this season but Harbaugh has unfinished business with Pete Carroll stemming back from the Stanford days. SF will look to run it up.

James – SEA +1 – Best home team in the league.

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Thanks for checking out our picks. Dont forget to follow us on Facebook & Twitter.
James Kaikis
Chief Sports Activist for The Cover 4
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Week 15 NFL Predictions – Spread ’em

The Redskins playoff hopes hinge on the health of RGIII.

The Redskins playoff hopes hinge on the health of RGIII.

You know what time it is! The favorite part of everyone’s week is here as The Cover 4 is posting Week 15 Predictions.

This week you will get predictions and analysis from five Cover 4 Sports Activists giving you a number of options to go with your picks on Sunday. As much as I love picking winners, the fans have spoken and want the spread!

The Cover 4 is dedicated to bringing the fans the ultimate experience; this is headlined by our slogan of “for the fans, by the fans”. Looking back to last week, let’s just say it wasn’t pretty for any of us, mostly myself. There are good weeks, bad weeks, and sometimes just down right ugly weeks. But, like any successful person, when you get knocked down, you get right back up and that is certainly what we will be doing.

The NFL is truly an ANY GIVEN SUNDAY league. This year especially, there is a lot of parody and inconsistency among teams. Look at the Cardinals who started 4-0 and have lost 9 in a row. Those same Cardinals beat the Patriots, who just throttled the top of the AFC Texans. Does it get any better?

A little fantasy advice for those in their playoffs or near their league championships this year: trust your gut and don’t read all of those funny websites about “who to start/sit”. Every site has their own opinion but go with your gut because this is when its time to win some money! Am I bitter? Yes as I decided to change a player in my starting lineup last minute and lost my playoff game. For all you wavier wire all-stars, great job making it this far with a terribly drafted team. We know all your picks sucked, but you were able to hunt the waiver wire in an effort to make it into the playoffs. This one’s for you.

Who doesn’t love money? I certainly do, and that’s why I’ll be following The Cover 4 this weekend for my football bets. Each week The Cover 4 will give to you our “Cover 4” parlay picks for the week. These are our must bet picks!

The Cover 4: Giants +1½, Pit -1½, Jaguars +7½, Jets +2 

Now onto the picks and analysis! (All lines from the LVH as of 12/14/12 at 8:30 pm PST)

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Green Bay Packers -3 @ Chicago Bears

General Peppers – GB -3 

Jesse – GB -3 – GB owns Chicago in this rivalry of late, although I expect a battle.

Long Island Sound – GB -3 – Woodson & Mathews are back.

Plumb – CHI +3 – Green bay coming off a big Mnf win looking to get back on track face a stout bears defense lookin to rebound from last week.

James – GB -3 – Tough game to play in Soldier Field but GB is bringing back some key starters while Chicago is losing some. __________________________________________________________________________

New York Giants @ Atlanta Falcons -1½

General Peppers – ATL +1½

Jesse – NYG +1½ – Giants beat good teams; ATL close calls to OAK, CAR, ARI, all at home

Long Island Sound – NYG +1½ – Take the G-Men as a road underdog.

Plumb – NYG +1½ – Atlanta is coming off abysmal loss to Carolina an now face a hot giants teams gmen defense too tough

James – NYG +1½ – Just can’t take ATL in this one. The Giants show up to play big games. __________________________________________________________________________

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints -4

General Peppers – NO -4

Jesse – TB +4 – Worst passing D in the league vs. Drew Brees spells disaster, but I dunno if we’re dealing w/ the same Brees as past years.

Long Island Sound – TB +4 – Vincent Jackson field day.

Plumb – TB +4 – Tampa bay loves blowing leads in the 4th quarter but New Orleans defense is pretty awful. Ill take the points in this one.

James – NO -4 – The Saints D is brutal and should be torched for a few this week but I think Brees makes up for it on the backend.

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Minnesota Vikings @ St. Louis Rams -3

General Peppers – MIN +3 

Jesse – STL -3 – STL posts a 9-4 record ATS and gets the inept Ponder coming to town. AP will get his, but it won’t be enough.

Long Island Sound – STL -3 –  Jeff Fisher vs bad Qbs. I like the cover.

Plumb – MIN +3 – St. Louis has proven to me they have a tough defense but they haven’t faced a back like ap before. Minn barley edges rams

James – MIN +3 – I am taking Peterson and crew. I like the Rams defense but it won’t be enough to win by 3+ points. __________________________________________________________________________

Washington Redskins @ Cleveland Browns – NO LINE

General Peppers –

Jesse – CLE (NO LINE) – Washington is in a tough spot. After battling hated rival Giants to a 1-point victory two weeks ago on MNF, and going to OT vs. close-rival Baltimore, they have to travel to the lowly Browns who are playing well as of late.

Long Island Sound – CLE (NO LINE) – Hitting their stride.

Plumb – CLE (NO LINE) – Skins browns in a pickem? RGIII must be out for me to take the browns. So if his is gimme Cleveland if he isn’t gimme wash.

James – Washington (NO LINE) – I might be the only one on the Kirk Cousins bandwagon.

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Jacksonville Jaguars @ Miami Dolphins -7½

General Peppers – JAX +7½

Jesse – JAX +7½ – Miami is a TD favorite? I’ll take the Jags who’re 5-1 ATS on the road this season.

Long Island Sound – JAX +7½ – Miami isn’t reliable to bury a team.

Plumb – JAX +7½ – The battle of Florida is this week and what better time is it for henne to come back to Miami and steal on from his old team. Miami is giving to much in this game

James – JAX +7½ – I am with the rest of The Cover 4 team as I can’t pick the Dolphins to win this game by a touchdown.

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Denver Broncos -3 @ Baltimore Ravens

General Peppers – DEN -3

Jesse – DEN -3 – This is a well-oiled machine poised for a deep playoff run. After this game, Denver finishes up vs. CLE & KC, both at home. I expect this to be a tough game, though. As of right now, NONE of Denver’s last 8 opponents have winning records save for 7-6 Cincy.

Long Island Sound –BAL +3 – Coming off a bad loss, and need to regain their form.

Plumb – DEN -3 – Denver and Balt clash this week in a huge Afc showdown. After Balts embarrassing loss last week after giving up all those points to wash they need a win to sustain top dog in Afc north but Peyton is too tough in this one.

James – DEN -3 – I understand Baltimore is at home but I think Denver abuses that secondary as no one can cover Thomas.

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Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans -10

General Peppers – HOU -10

Jesse – IND +10 – Houston’s D (specifically passing D) has been bad as of late. Indy’s got D problems of their own, but they can put points on the board. I’ll take the TD+. This team is a legitimate 9-4.

Long Island Sound – IND +10 – Luck finds ways to cover.

Plumb – IND +10 – After Houston gettig blown out on Mnf they home to play a hot Indy try to make playoffs under for luck sake (haha).

James – HOU -10 – The line jumping from 8 to 10 is a large difference. Indy won’t have enough Luck in this one (it never gets old).

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Carolina Panthers @ San Diego Chargers -3

General Peppers – SD -3 

Jesse – CAR +3 – I can’t lay points with SD. Newton has something to build on as he’s thrown 7TDs & 0INTs in the last 3 games (9.2 YPA).

Long Island Sound – CAR +3 – Cam found his form again. Bolts off a big away win – expect a letdown.

Plumb – SD -3 – Big win for car last week. I don’t see a repeat against a tough San Diego D.

James – CAR +3 – Both teams have alternated having good games and bad games this year. I am taking Carolina with the points.

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Seattle Seahawks -5½ @ Buffalo Bills

General Peppers – BUF +5½

Jesse – BUF +5½ – I like the points here. Seattle will be preparing for their Sunday night battle vs. Niners the following week.

Long Island Sound – BUF +5½ – Too many big wins lately, and one of the longest trips in the league.

Plumb – SEA -5½ – After massacring the cards Seattle goes on the road to a disappointing bills team can’t go against hawks on this one

James – BUF +5½ – Lets ride the dogs!

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Detroit Lions -6½ @ Arizona Cardinals

General Peppers – ARI +6½ 

Jesse – ARI +6½ – John Skelton has been demoted (again) and Lindley will start. Arizona has a ton of problems, but its rare that teams get blown out in back-to-back weeks in the NFL. These dudes are pros. AND WHY THE EFF IS A 4-9 TEAM A 6-POINT ROAD FAV ANYWAY?

Long Island Sound – DET -6½ –  I could play QB for the Cardinals right now.

Plumb – DET -6½ This looks like a trap game with the eye but then I realized Arizona doesn’t have an offense and Detroit can capitalize on that. If they cards score its because of the defense. The numbers say cards cover but I think other wise

James – DET -6½ – How can you not go this route after last week? Also, I will never let Jesse convince me that Arizona +10 is the “best play of the week”! haha SMH __________________________________________________________________________

Pittsburgh Steelers -1½ @ Dallas Cowboys

General Peppers – PIT –1½

Jesse – PIT –1½ – I cannot publicly back the schizophrenic Cowboys. Who knows which team we’ll see? Pitt is holding on dearly to that 6th seed and need this W especially if the Bengals win on Thursday. I also like Tomlin + Big Ben coming off a loss.

Long Island Sound – PIT –1½ – Ben will be ready, and Cowboys Stadium is no real advantage.

Plumb – PIT –1½ – Pittsburgh got a break last week with all the other Afc north losing and might have another one this week. Dallas is depleted and steelers have something to play for.

James – PIT –1½ – Tomlin won’t let them lose two in a row. __________________________________________________________________________

Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders -3

General Peppers – OAK -3

Jesse – OAK -3 – Both of these teams are awful. Just bad, bad teams. Chiefs just lost Dwayne Bowe for the season, Oakland had 10 days to prepare for Brady Quinn & co. I’ll take the host.

Long Island Sound – OAK -3 – KC is looking towards the draft.

Plumb – OAK -3 – Probably one of the worst games on this weeks schedule but someone has to win so the number say raiders so I guess ill take that!

James – OAK -3 – The Chiefs aren’t on their high horses after an emotional few weeks.

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San Francisco 49ers @ New England Patriots -4½

General Peppers – SF +

Jesse – SF + – New England played a near perfect game to beat the Texans in their “most important game in history.” Believe it or not, I expect the Niners to jump out on the flat-Pats and keep this game close.

Long Island Sound – NE -4½ – Big test for Kaep to hang with the best. Doubt he passes the first test.

Plumb – SF +4½ – Even match up this week San Fran plays NE tough.

James – NE -4½ – Did everyone just forget what New England did to the Texans? __________________________________________________________________________

New York Jets @ Tennessee Titans -2

General Peppers – NYJ +2 

Jesse – NYJ +2 – I’ll take the points in the game that no one will watch this coming Monday. Jets, believe it or not, could still potentially snag the 6th seed. Titans suck.

Long Island Sound – NYJ +2 – Jets find their way to make playoff pushes.

Plumb – NYJ +2 – Jets barley beat jax and Tennessee can be tough at times however tenn is giving points so the pressure is off Sanchez.

James – NYJ +2 – If the Jets can continue to run the ball and get back to the team they were a few years ago, they can sneak into the playoff picture.

Alright. Thanks for reading The Cover 4. Keep telling your friends about our site. Now go make that $ this weekend.

Contact us at james@thecover4.com

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James Kaikis
Chief Sports Activist for The Cover 4
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Top 10 Players Affected By NHL Lockout

The Cover 4 will feature a number of writers to cover a variety of topics. This article is by our very own Rick Davis, NHL insider.

Talks have picked up again between the NHL and the NHLPA in an attempt to salvage any season that they can. By no means do things looks good for the league but progress is progress. As fans, we are becoming numb to this whole process, but I am sure it is not much easier for some NHL players. With a sport as grueling as hockey, you have very limited time to begin with, and for many of the league’s players, this is the second long lockout of their career sucking precious time away from them.

Here is a look at the top 10 players affected by the lockout.

10. Evgeni Malkin – PIT

Ok, I know, Malkin is a Stanley Cup champion, Conn Smythe winner, reigning MVP and scoring champ, what more does he have to prove? Plenty! The big Russian is a proud player, and one of those players whose genuine love of the game exudes from him every time he laces the skates up. Malkin is currently tearing up the KHL right now, riding high off of his 50-goal, 109-point MVP season last year, but as with everything in Malkin’s NHL life, there comes the mention of Crosby. Crosby missed the majority of the season last year, and in his absence, Malkin flourished with a dominant season, but the Penguins suffered a humiliated series loss to arch rival Philadelphia in the playoffs with both Crosby and Malkin healthy in the lineup. The question that has hovered over Malkin his entire career; Can Malkin play at his top, MVP level WITH Sidney Crosby in the lineup. Playing the best hockey of his career right now (that has already seen him win a Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP) and with Crosby back, Malkin is primed to silence his critics for good, and truly enter the conversation for best player in the world, separate of Crosby.

9. Ilya Bryzgalov – PHI

Whoa, talk about pressure, there may not be a single player in the NHL under more pressure, and scrutiny than Bryzgalov. Philadelphia is vying with Toronto for the toughest home city in hockey, and may have even surpassed them (now that the expectations in Toronto for playoffs every year are lofty at best). Philadelphia is a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, make no mistake about that. In the 2010 playoffs, they rode Michael Leighton (who is now backstopping their AHL team, adequately at best) to the Finals before falling to an absurdly good Chicago Blackhawks team. The knock on the Flyers for years has been their lack of a franchise goalie, and have not had one since Ron Hextall. The Flyers signed Bryz to a 9-year, $51 million deal in the summer of 2011, and officially placed a gigantic target for the fans on his back, and a microscope in place of the overhead net cam. Every mistake this guy makes is magnified because, with the like of Giroux, Briere, Hartnell, the Schenn brothers, Talbot, and many more young talented players, the Flyers truly believe (as well they should) that each year could be their year. If you talk to anyone in the game of hockey, the number one thing they will tell you needed to win a Stanley Cup is goaltending, and the Flyers are going to lean on Bryzgalov for it. After an insane playoff series last season against Pittsburgh, in which everything you thought you knew about either team was thrown out the window, the Flyers fell quite easily to the eventual Eastern Conference Champion Devils. Bryzgavlov must be dying to get back in between the pipes at the Wells Fargo Center and prove that he was worth every penny they gave him.

8. Alexander Ovechkin – WSH

The Great 8. Without a doubt, in my mind the most raw skill and talent of any player in the league today. He is a large man, measuring in at 6’ 3”, 220 lbs. with blazing speed, quick hand, a nasty edge, and an other-worldly shot. He has shown it throughout his whole career what a once-in-a-lifetime type of player this kid it. For whatever reason over the past couple seasons, the Washington Capitals have tried to take focus off of Ovie, and focus more on their team AS a team. They have asked Alex to buy into a more defensive minded system which has seen his production “plummet” from 60-goal seasons to the 38-goal season he posted last year, still god enough for top 5 in the league. Since the Capitals heart-breaking 7-game series loss to Pittsburgh, on Pittsburgh’s route to their Stanley Cup victory in 2008-09, the Capitals have not been the same team. That series loss eliminated the swagger that the team, and namely Ovechkin had as the top young-guns team in the league. I feel losing head to head vs. Sidney Crosby and the Pens that season was a bit of a blow to the ego of Ovechkin and the whole Caps organization. They have put together some pretty good seasons since, but have not really put too much fear into the league as a top Cup contender, and with the talent of their team, it is only a matter of time before this Caps team is playing some serious hockey in early summer. The one thing missing that will be needed for them to do so is the reemergence of Ovechkin back in to his truly dominant form, in which everyone else in the league shoots for second in goals. Ovie is a proud player, and he knows this, and I doubt he will need much more motivation once a new CBA is signed. He is entering the prime of his career and with the past few “off seasons” and this work stoppage cutting into the early prime of his career, I would expect a scary version of Alex from the drop of the puck of the new NHL season, whenever that may be.

7. Sidney Crosby – PIT

The easiest choice to put on this list, Sidney Crosby is ready for training camp for the first time in the longest time. Perhaps in the eyes of Pens fans, Crosby is benefitting from this lockout in the sense that he has more time to put his last concussion and next hit further away from each other. The golden boy of the National Hockey League may be one of the most seriously competitive players the game has ever seen, and I can assure you that the Penguins’ Stanley Cup victory in 2009 is a distant, distant memory for him. Since that victory, the Penguins lost a tough 2nd round series to the Canadiens the following year, dropped a 7-game opening round series to the Lightning the next year (without Crosby or Malkin), and dropped a redonkulous opening round series to the Flyers last season, that may have sucked every last molecular drop of confidence from both goalies involved in that series. Sidney Crosby IS the Penguins, no doubt about that, and the Penguins have gone from darling child of the league to underperforming playoff team year-after-year lately. Couple the pressure of trying to get the Pens back to the promised land with the uncertainty of Crosby’s recent concussion history, and the pressure to stay healthy, the 25-year old mega star has a lot facing him the next time the pucks drops on an NHL season. If there is one thing that fans and detractors know all too well about Crosby, is that he brings it night in and night out, and I’m sure is the most eager player to get back to his pre-concussion form in which he was on a scoring streak for the ages, and one of the most dominant streaks the league had seen in decades. If Sid can stay healthy, the Penguins will be one of a handful of teams along with their archrival Flyers, expected to challenge for the Stanley Cup.

6. Roberto Luongo – VAN

There is probably not another player whose future is being held up by this lockout more than Roberto Luongo. Bobby Lu is currently situated as one of the most expensive back ups in the league. Luongo has 10 years remaining on his huge 12-year, nearly $64 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks, but his inconsistent play has opened the door for Cory Schneider, and Schneider has taken control of the crease in Vancouver. The Canucks have all but said publically that Schneider is, and will be their starting goaltender moving forward, so an obvious move would be to move Luongo to not only avoid distraction, but to clear cap space as well. During the work stoppage, no trades can be made, and Luongo has already come out in the media and telling them about his time in Vancouver “I had 6 great years”, but “It’s time to move on”, so from the outside it appears that his departure is all but certain. Toronto and Florida are rumored to be pursing his services, but until a new CBA is reached, Luongo is in Limbo.

5. Rick Nash – NYR

Free at last, free at last, thank god almighty he’s free at last. Rick Nash has been put out of his misery brought on by his commitment to being a team player when the Blue Jackets traded him this offseason to the New York Rangers. The 28-year old is just entering the prime of his career, and has toiled dedicatedly and honorably in Columbus since being drafted first overall in 2002, with ZERO playoff wins to show for his hard work. Even when it was clear he wanted to play on a competitive team, he was very professional in the public eye, and let the Jackets get what they could for him. His reward: A top line role on an extremely talented and dangerous New York Ranger squad. If Nash can smoothly transition from playing in the relative obscurity of Nationwide Arena, to the unblinking eye and bright lights of Madison Square Garden, he may begin to reap the rewards he deserves sooner rather than later.

4. Alex Semin – CAR

Perhaps the most enigmatic player of the past few years, Alex Semin possesses the most intriguing skill set of any player on this list. He just oozes with talent, has a shot that rivals former teammate Ovechkin, has the hands to compete with Malkin, and skating sleeker than Crosby, but Semin had a tough time finding ANYONE to take him in the NHL this season. After the Capitals declined to resign the winger, he made it clear that he would not sign a 1-year contract or a contract that paid him less than his previous $5.5 million per season contract with the Caps. After no offers late into July and with the lockout looming, the rejuvenated Carolina Hurricanes took a chance of Semin, signing him to a 1-year, $7 million contract. That sharpshooting Russian’s work ethic is constantly in question and his desire to be a factor on a nightly basis is lacking at best. Semin’s production also varies drastically; starting with the 2006-07 season through last, Semin’s goal totals fluctuated from  38,26,34,40,28,21. Of the 21 goals he scored last season, 12 of them were scored in 4 different games, meaning Semin scored only 9 goals over 73 games. With a fresh start in Carolina with a vastly improved team in a relatively weak division, Semin will look to silence his detractors, and post a huge year, after all, it will be a contract season.

3. Jarome Iginla – CGY

One of the most well respected and admired players in the NHL, Jarome Iginla is a fading star. A personal favorite of mine, Iginla personifies everything you want in a hockey player. He has toughness, grit, a laser beam for a shot, pretty good wheels, pin point precision, and some of the best leadership skills in the game. One thing Jarome Iginla does not have is a Stanley Cup ring. He came within 60 minutes of one, but has been nowhere close since. He is beloved in Calgary and respected in nearly every city he plays in, but at the age of 35, his time for being THE GUY on a team is extremely limited, and his career is beginning to slowly wind down. Offensively he is a consistent force, but he cannot do everything himself. Calgary has made a few moves this offseason bringing in a proven commodity in Jiri Hudler, along with Mike Cammeleri, a noted sniper who was acquired last season in a trade with Montreal. Iginla loves Calgary and if he had his way, he would finish his career there with a few championships, but rest assured, if the Flames start of slow or begin to fall apart during their next season, the front office will move Iginla, and begin to rebuild. Hopefully, if that happens, he will be moved to a legitimate contender a la Rick Nash.

2. Corey Perry – ANA

The pesky Perry has one of the best silent resumes in the league. Making up part of Anaheim’s big 3 alongside Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan, Perry has put together a pretty good career. Picked 28th overall by the Ducks in 2003, Perry has a Memorial Cup championship in the CHL to his credit, along with a 2007 Stanley Cup Championship with the Ducks, and a Hart Trophy for MVP on record as well. Now it is time for Perry to get PAID, thus why he is ranked second on our list. With Anaheim being moderately competitive on the ice, and posting $32 million in losses last season, logically thinking I would say Perry will be taking his talents elsewhere, as he is an Unrestricted Free Agent after the next hockey season. Perry must be on pins and needles waiting for the lockout to end to add to his body of work, which also includes a 50-goal season. Perry’s current contract is a 5-year $26.625 million deal, and with his resume, he could expect a significant pay bump from a contending team looking to add his skill set and sand-paper style of play to their team.

1.The Old Guard of the NHL

When the last lockout wiped out an entire season, when the league came back, they featured a mix of some of the top players of the past generation and the stars of tomorrow (today). Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby played together on a team with Mark Recchi, Sergei Fedorov and Alex Ovechkin were teammates. At the age of 24, and being a lifelong hockey fan, there are few players left playing still that have been playing as long as I can remember. In addition to Rick Nash and Jarome Iginla, the likes of Jaromir Jagr, Martin Brodeur, Teemu Selanne, Shane Doan, Chris Pronger, and Ray Whitney are all former (and some still current) All-Stars , pushing 40 and in the twilights of their careers, some of which may never play another second in the NHL if this current lockout takes the whole season. In addition to the stars, the character guys that have forged commendable NHL careers like Dwayne Roloson, Sean O’Donnell, and Mike Knuble may also never play again. This as an avid-lifelong fan, is the saddest part of this lockout. While some of the “old-guard” are surely not household names, and others are sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famers, they have all built a career upon personal sacrifice, dedication, and hard work. It would be a shame if they do not get one more shot to play the game they love because of the dispute about money.

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Honorable Mentions

Jordan Eberle – EDM – Eberle is poised for a breakout year. Perhaps one of the best young players in the game today, Eberle, surrounded by an embarrassment of young talent and #1 picks, Eberle is emerging as THE GUY in Edmonton. In my opinion (feel free to write this down now) Eberle will give Crosby, Malkin, Stamkos, and Ovechkin in the conversation for best player in the world in the next 2-3 years.

Joe Thornton – SJ – Playing on a contending team with a good mix of young players and veteran leaders, Thornton’s time to reach hockey’s highest point is running out. The former MVP is clearly on the downslope of his career, but still has some top tier hockey left in him, and a good team around him.

Patrick Kane – CHI – Two years removed from scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal, Kane has had a couple rough, injury and inconsistency-plagued seasons. The speedster has tons of talent but some may argue he hasn’t reached expectations (seeing a Chicago had to tear apart their cup team because of the salary cap, so the likes of Byfuglien, Ladd, Campbell and others were moved to keep Kane a Hawk). Kane is a great talent and I would bet he has a bounce back season.

Marc-Andre Fleury – PIT – Fleury is coming off a complete meltdown of a playoff performance with the Penguins last season. After a solid regular season that saw him post 42 wins, one win short of tops in the NHL, Fleury gave up 30 goals in 6 games and for the most part, looked lost at BEST. The Penguins rode the former number 1 overall pick to back to back Stanley Cup Finals, and one victory, in 2007-08 and 08-09, but since then, a woefully inconsistent “flower” has factored heavily into poor playoff performances by the Penguins. Despite having Malkin, Crosby, Neal and company, the Pens will only go as far as Fleury takes them.

Rick Davis

The Cover 4 Featured Sports Writer

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