The Hunter’s Weekend of Sports – 13 Dec
Tips, Tricks, Picks and Odds.
12 more sleeps ‘till Christmas… no more sleeps ‘till the weekend of sports
With Christmas fast approaching and a sense of hope and joy in the air, it seems as though our presents may have come early. We’ve been gifted a weekend of prime sporting action, and I’m eager to unwrap each day.
As always in this column, I’ll explore what Australians can look forward to in this weekend of sports – focusing on a different sport for each day – and provide the tips that I feel most confident in based on my research, analysis and expert intuition.
FRIDAY – NFL
The NFL’s Thursday night football matchup (Friday morning our time) isn’t a question of whether the Ravens will beat the Jets – but more a question of by how much.
Baltimore Ravens v New York Jets
The Ravens are – I’ll say it here now – looking like a team destined to be Superbowl champions. Never before has a QB run so far (With Lamar Jackson set to beat Michael Vick’s record with two weeks spare this match), never before has an offence looked so menacing and well-rounded, never before has a team looked just. So. Good. With an 11-2 record, the top seed in the AFC, and far bigger scalps than the Jets in their dust, this game should be an easy win.
Forever cursed by the Butt-Fumble, the Jets were lucky to even beat the Dolphins last week – and honestly don’t stand a chance against a team like the Ravens. Darnold’s still ‘seeing ghosts,’ and star RB Le’Veon Bell wants out. The Jets are a mess, and they have to come up against the well-oiled machine that is the Ravens.
I guess the problem here is deciding the line to pick. This is bound to be a demolition derby, so I’m going to lean heavily on the Ravens simply handing it to the Jets with minimal retaliation. The Jets are weak, the Ravens are strong, the fast eat the slow. Ravens to win. By a lot.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Ravens -28.5
SATURDAY – NBL
The NBL right now is riding the hype-train. With star rookies like Ball, seasoned veterans like Bogut, and everything in between, now is a great time for Australian basketball. On Saturday, fans around Australia are treated to an absolute premier matchup, as teams one and three battle it out in front of the NBL’s most passionate fanbase.
Melbourne United v Sydney Kings
Melbourne started the season relatively shaky, having lost their star Point Casper Ware to Sydney over the offseason. But off the back of a couple standout showings from Shaun Long, Melbourne United were back in the thick of it and marching their way through opponents and up the table. They now face the NBL’s hardest challenge, as they look to take points away from this seemingly unstoppable Sydney outfit.
The Kings are, once more, the team to beat this season. Despite losing their head coach (Superstar Gaze) in the offseason, they’ve bounced back stronger than ever with a few key acquisitions, and are looking to take it as far as they can. With that being said, they are fresh off of a shock upset against the Taipans at home – arguably the biggest upset of the season – so whether they use that to motivate or destroy themselves remains to be seen.
I think Sydney will come into this match with a chip on their shoulder and ready to take names. Melbourne are always tough to beat at home, but if anyone can it’s this Kings team – regardless of last week’s result.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Sydney Kings to win
SUNDAY – Test Cricket
Ah, the summer of cricket.
Technically, summer started a couple of weeks ago with the Pakistan test – but a few easy wins and a triple century later, that seems like more of a warmup match now than an actual series. Australia now come up against some real opponents in the world #2 New Zealand side. And, with day 4 of the test on Sunday, it’s the perfect opportunity to take a seat, grab a beer, and watch some good quality cricket.
Australia v New Zealand
New Zealand may be world number 2, but they’re not operating at full strength coming into this series. Team stalwart and NZ hero Trent Boult is out of action, and Ross Taylor looked to be nursing an injury in training on Wednesday. Luckily New Zealand are a well-rounded team, with the likes of Watling and Williamson sure to cover if any issues arise from Taylor with the bat, and I’m excited to see what Lockie Ferguson can do with the ball on debut now that the spot’s open on the team. The Kiwis will be a tough team to beat – even if not at 100% operating efficiency.
But, finally, Australia are looking like a settled test side. Warner and Smith are batting consistently, Burns looks like he’s here to stay, and Labuschagne has blown everyone away with his ability and charm. This could be a world-beating team given time – and I think that starts with this test. If the Aussies can take the scalp of the reigning world number two, in a 40degree test on a pitch as green as footy field, it’ll show the world that they aren’t to be trifled with, and I honestly think they will.
The Kiwis will put in a good display, I forecast a couple of centuries with the bat from their in-form middle order. But I just can’t see Australia losing this one.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Australia to Win
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