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YESTERDAY'S PLAYS
Matchup Selection W/L
MLB  |  May 21, 2022
Twins vs Royals
Royals
+1½ -130 at William Hill
Lost
$130.0
Play Type: Top Premium

8* Run Line Kansas City (7:10 ET): First off, please note that this is a run line play where I’m taking the Royals +1.5. The first four meetings between these AL Central rivals this season have all been decided by two runs or fewer. Last night, it was the Twins picking up the 6-4 victory. The Royals took two of three in the previous series (also here in KC), so while they are (badly) lagging behind Minnesota in the standings (8.5 games back), they have shown they can compete with them. Sooner or later, you’ve got to figure these surprising Twins are going to come back “down to Earth.”

This looks like a pretty even pitching matchup, at least on paper, with Brad Keller opposing Joe Ryan. It would seem very unfortunate that Keller has just one win in seven starts as he has a 2.89 ERA and 1.008 WHIP. At home, the numbers are even better. The team start record boils down to the fact that the Royals are barely scoring three runs per game in Keller starts. Eventually, that “worm has to turn.” Last time out, Keller again did not get the win, but it was the fifth time in seven outings he went at least six innings and allowed three runs or less (aka a “quality start.”) Keller did not pitch in the last series vs. Minnesota, but does have a 3.20 ERA in nine career starts against them.

Ryan’s numbers are slightly better than Keller’s. He also did toss six shutout innings here at Kauffman Stadium last month, a game the Twins won 1-0. But recently, Ryan has struggled a little bit, failing to go a full five innings in two of his last three starts. He’s coming off a career-high 103 pitches against Cleveland last Sunday. It remains to be seen how a rookie fares off an outing like that. At the end of the day, this looks like a really even matchup to me and it’s nice to have an additional 1.5 runs in our back pocket. Home team does no worse than a one-run loss here. 8* Run Line Kansas City (+1.5)

Matchup Selection W/L
MLB  |  May 21, 2022
Braves vs Marlins
Marlins
+130 at Caesars
Lost
$100.0
Play Type: Top Premium

10* Miami (6:10 ET): The Marlins probably aren’t the main focus of the Miami sports scene this evening, but they’re a good value at home facing the division rival Braves. Now Atlanta did come in and take the series opener on Friday, by a score of 5-3, but that was largely thanks to another ineffective start from Miami’s Trevor Rogers, who was charged with all five runs. The Marlins’ bullpen didn’t allow any runs over its five innings of work and the home team ended up with more hits than the Braves did. Atlanta is still a bit overvalued due to winning the World Series last year and I think Miami is better than its record.

After last night’s result, the Braves are now one-half game ahead of the Marlins in the NL East standings (they have one more win). But run differential paints a much different picture of the two clubs. Atlanta has been outscored by 11 runs on the season. Miami has a +17 run differential. Their 12 one-run losses (easily the most in baseball) have really hurt as no team has underachieved its win expectancy more. Look for their luck to turn however, especially at home where they are somehow 9-11 despite having outscored their opposition by a fairly significant margin. 

Getting the baseball for Miami this evening will be Elieser Hernandez. It has not been a great start to the year for Hernandez, but Atlanta is hitting just .211 on the road thus far and .208 in games where they face a right-handed starter. Hernandez has a 2-0 TSR vs. the Braves since the start of last season. With him on the mound last month, the Marlins beat the Braves as a +145 underdog (even though Hernandez didn’t pitch very well). I expect him to outduel Kyle Wright in this spot as Wright is only two starts removed from getting shelled for six runs. Miami has done a lot more hitting than Atlanta recently and I expect the offense to carry Hernandez in this one. 10* Miami

Matchup Selection W/L
NBA  |  May 21, 2022
Heat vs Celtics
UNDER 207½ -110 Lost
$110.0
Play Type: Top Premium

10* Under Heat/Celtics (8:30 ET): The expectation was that the Eastern Conference Finals would be pretty low-scoring. After all, Boston led the league in scoring defense (104.5 PPG) during the regular season and has been even stingier in the playoffs (103.1 PPG allowed). Not to be overlooked is the fact the Under was 8-2-1 in Miami playoff games in Rounds 1 and 2 with them turning in the second best defensive efficiency rating during that time. The Heat have allowed an average of just 100.5 PPG in the postseason. That’s even after the first two games saw way more points scored than what was expected. 

With these two teams combining to go 14-0 Over in their L14 Conference Finals games, I think that it’s time to go “the other way” here in Game 3. Boston shot 51% in Game 2 and made 20 threes, numbers they probably can’t hope to match tonight. For a frame of reference, the Celtics shot 45.6% in Game 1 and made only 11 threes. Save for the third quarter of Game 1, they really have looked like the better team in this series. That dubious third quarter is the only quarter in the two games where the Celtics were outscored. (Teams were even in the third and fourth in Game 2). I just don’t think we’re going to see the same amount of scoring from Boston, especially in the first half, tonight. 

Miami shot just 29.4% from three-point range in the last game. They’ll likely improve from that, but not by enough to affect the total. I expect this game to be played at a slower pace. The Celtics have allowed 103 points or fewer in six of their last nine games. The Heat have allowed 103 or less in 7 of their last 10 games. I think for tonight, the winning team may only need 100. Miami has not allowed 100+ points in three straight games during these playoffs. This is the highest O/U line of the series. 10* Under Heat/Celtics

Matchup Selection W/L
Soccer  |  May 21, 2022
Empoli vs Atalanta
UNDER 4 -130 Won
$100
Play Type: Top Premium

10* Under Empoli/Atalanta (2:45 ET): Atalanta enters the final matchday of their Serie A season in desperate need of a result. They are tied with Fiorentina (both at 59 points) but lose the tiebreaker based on head to head points. That means Atalanta must finish ahead of La Viola in order to qualify for the Europa Conference League, a spot that only opened up because the winners of the Coppa Italia (Inter) had already qualified for the Champions League, so the corresponding Europa League spot is then passed down to the sixth place finisher (clinched by Roma) on Friday.

If Fiorentina loses to Juventus on Saturday, then a draw will suffice here for Atalanta. La Dea may not want to leave that to chance though. Still, I suspect this fixture will be lower scoring than the reverse, which saw Atalanta prevail 4-1. Empoli has endured a simply dreadful run of form lately, winning just ONCE in their last 21 matches! That run has seen them slip only to 14th in the table, well clear of the relegation zone, which last year’s Serie B champs will gladly take as the only goal this season was to survive and remain in the Italian top flight. Last week, Empoli could only muster a 1-1 draw with relegation-threatened Salernitana. 

Now Atalanta’s recent form hasn’t been so great either, which is why they are in this predicament. They’ve posted only two wins in their last 10 matches and those victories came against Spezia and Venezia, two bottom of the table sides, the latter having already been relegated. Atalanta couldn’t even get on the scoresheet last week vs. AC Milan, losing 2-0. Goal differential does not matter to La Dea here, all they need is one goal and then try to hold Empoli off for the three points. Not sure if Fiorentina will cooperate, but the task at hand seems rather easy for Atalanta this week. 10* Under Empoli/Atalanta

Matchup Selection W/L
Soccer  |  May 21, 2022
RB Leipzig vs SC Freiburg
RB Leipzig
+102 at linepros
Lost
$100.0
Play Type: Top Premium

10* RB Leipzig (2:00 ET): Though the Bundesliga season has concluded, we’re not yet quite done with German football in 2021/22. Thursday saw me cash the 1st leg of the promotion/relegation playoff with Hamburg SV. Now we’ve got the Final of the DFB Pokal, the second most prestigious club title in all of Germany, between Freiburg and RB Leipzig. Considering the respective ends to the Bundesliga season for these two sides, I think there’s only one way to play this one. I just can’t see how Freiburg “gets up” after an extremely disappointing final matchday. 

If you don’t know, Leipzig finished 4th and Freiburg 6th in the Bundesliga table. That means Leipzig is going to the Champions League next season while Freiburg is stuck in the less prestigious Europa League. Freiburg was in fourth with two matches left, but picked up zero points down the stretch, losing  to Union Berlin and Bayer Leverkusen, the latter being decided by a goal in the seventh minute of stoppage time. That coincided with Leipzig getting a stoppage time equalizer against Arminia Bielefeld to ensure it finished top four. 

Despite these clubs playing to a pair of 1-1 draws during the Bundesliga season and finishing only three points apart, I think there’s a strong argument that Leipzig is vastly superior. They were second in the Bundesliga in expected points (Freiburg was 6th) and Leipzig had the far better goal differential. In fact, Leipzig was also second in GD (+35) while Freiburg was only +12. This will be the first time in club history that Freiburg is playing for the German Cup while Leipzig is here for the third time in the last four years (lost previous two). Freiburg also only had to get past a second tier side (Hamburg SV) in the semifinals while Leipzig vanquished Union Berlin. Freiburg hasn’t beaten Leipzig in any of the previous five meetings and Leipzig was as good as any Bundesliga side in 2022. 10* RB Leipzig 

PICKS IN PROGRESS
Matchup Selection W/L
MLB  |  May 22, 2022
Diamondbacks vs Cubs
Cubs
-120 at SC Consensus
Play Type: Top Premium

10* Chi Cubs (2:20 ET): I played Arizona Friday afternoon, noting that they’d taken the series opener at Wrigley Field (the previous day) without scoring many runs (3-1). They delivered with an easy 10-6 victory over the Cubs, scoring multiple runs in three of the first five innings. I laid off yesterday’s game, figuring the Cubs weren’t going to be swept at home this weekend and most of the way, that appeared to be a prudent decision. The Cubs led 4-0 after the third inning and appeared well on their way to victory still up 4-1 heading into the eighth. But then they allowed the D’backs to tie the game and in extra innings things were decided on a three run double by Daulton Varsho. The Cubs scoring twice in the bottom half of the 10th was not enough. 

Last Sunday, I took a team in this very same spot (at home, lost first three games of the series) and they came through with a victory for me. Now that was the Dodgers, who are obviously a lot better than the Cubs. But let me point out that Chicago should be a lot better than 6-15 at Wrigley this season as they’ve scored more runs here than they’ve allowed. Despite winning the first three games of this series, I’m not sold on Arizona long-term as they still have a -21 YTD run differential, despite their .500 record (21-21).

The starting pitching matchup today certainly appears to be in the Cubs’ favor as they’ll send Wade Miley to the bump. The veteran Miley has made a pair of starts in 2022 and the most recent went very well as he held Pittsburgh to just one hit over seven shutout innings. Miley will be opposed by Merrill Kelly, who gave up EIGHT runs in his last start, lasting only two innings. Arizona pitching has allowed five or more runs in six of the last seven games. Only once in their history have the D’backs swept the Cubs at Wrigley and that was a three-game series in 2017. After letting one get away yesterday, I’m calling for the home team to avoid the four-game sweep. 10* Chi Cubs

Matchup Selection W/L
Soccer  |  May 22, 2022
Cadiz CF vs Alavés
Cadiz CF
-116 at linepros
Play Type: Top Premium

10* Cadiz (2:00 ET): Cadiz MUST pick up points here or they will be relegated to La Liga 2 (the Segunda Division). They enter the final matchday of the season level on points with Mallorca (36) but would lose the tiebreaker due to head to head points. There’s a third side (Granada) that is also involved in the relegation battle right now. They are one point ahead of both Mallorca and Cadiz, so what it boils down to here is that Cadiz really needs to win Sunday. While not in control of their own destiny, they could not have asked for a better opponent in Alaves, who we already know is getting relegated next season.

Alaves is the last place team in La Liga and Levante’s win on Friday assured they’ll stay in the basement no matter what they do here. That Levante result really “kills” any motivation for Alaves, who had been showing glimpses prior to last week’s tough 3-1 loss to Levante, which sealed their relegation. Alaves has actually alternated wins and losses over their last six fixtures, but I cannot see the trend continuing here as it certainly does not help that Gonzalo Escalante, the club’s second-leading scorer, is forced to sit this final match out due to picking up a second yellow card last week. 

Despite sitting in the drop zone, Cadiz has shown improvement of late as they have faced each of La Liga’s top eight sides over their last 11 matches, a stretch which has seen them pick up an admirable 15 points and lose just four times. It was disappointing that Cadiz could only share the points last week vs. Real Madrid (who rested starters). But in any other circumstance, a 1-1 draw with the league champs would be cause for celebration. They’ve now failed to win two straight, but one would have to go back to February to find the last time Cadiz went three straight w/o picking up the full three points at least once. In their biggest match of the season, I expect them to get the job done. 10* Cadiz

Matchup Selection W/L
Soccer  |  May 22, 2022
Cagliari vs Venezia
Cagliari
-145 at BetVegas
Play Type: Top Premium

8* Cagliari (3:00 ET): It’s the final matchday of the season in Serie A. While most are going to be concerned with the two Noon ET fixtures, involving AC Milan and Inter, the two sides battling out for the league championship, don’t forget that (later in the day) there’s a relegation battle to be sorted out. Genoa and Venezia have already been condemned down to Serie B for next season, but the third relegation spot has not yet been decided. It will either be Salernitana or Cagliari. Not only must Cagliari win here to have a chance of survival, they need Salernitana to do no better than a draw against Udinese. 

Cagliari can only handle its own business, but you have to like their chances of doing so as they face last place Venezia on Sunday. Venezia is one of only two sides in Europe’s “Big 5” leagues to have recorded fewer points than Cagliari since March. I realize that as bad as Venezia has been, things have not been much brighter for Cagliari, who could only manage a 1-1 draw with Salernitana and lost to Genoa recently. But if the Rossoblu cannot win here, then it certainly could be said they are deserving of a demotion down to Serie B. I believe Cagliari gets the full three points here.

Venezia should have lost last week to Roma, who missed two penalties, not to mention completely dominated in terms of shots and possession. The team at the foot of the Serie A table has now picked up four points from their last two matches (beat Bologna two weeks ago). Of course, it was “all for naught” as they are already confirmed for relegation. This is actually the first time Venezia has gone two straight matches without defeat since November! Given the circumstance the opposition is in, it’s VERY difficult for me to see the hosts even sharing the points on Sunday. They are down to their third string goaltender and there’s a long line of suspensions for this final matchday. 8* Cagliari

Matchup Selection W/L
Soccer  |  May 22, 2022
Manchester United vs Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace
0½ -150 at circa
Won
$100
Play Type: Top Premium

10* Crystal Palace Goal Line (11:00 AM ET): While most will be focused on the race for the Premier League Title (Man City or Liverpool), the race for the fourth Champions League spot (Tottenham or Arsenal), or the relegation battle (Burnley or Leeds), there is one other race to be settled in the EPL on Sunday. It is to determine who finishes sixth and joins either Tottenham or Arsenal (likely the latter) in the Europa League. The “contestants” are Manchester United, in action here, and West Ham. Man U enters the final matchday with a two point lead over the Hammers, but likely needs more than a draw here based on their inferior goal differential. I’m not convinced they get it. 

Crystal Palace has been one of the EPL’s more underrated sides this campaign. The Eagles may only sit 13th in the table, but they actually have a better GD than Manchester United. Not only do they sit seventh in the league in GD, they are sixth in expected points! Quite frankly, Palace has played better football this season than has United, especially of late. While the Eagles did just blow a 2-0 lead Thursday at a highly motivated Everton side (who was looking to secure safety from relegation), they had previously gone unbeaten in their prior four matches. Palace could finish as high as 10th with a win here, which would be their highest Premier League finish in some time. Remember that they made it all the way to the FA Cup semis as well. 

Manchester United hasn’t played in almost two weeks, when it suffered arguably its most humiliating defeat of the season, 4-0 at the hands of Brighton & Hove Albion. Honestly, it’s difficult to make the case that the Red Devils are deserving of the Europa League. They will finish with their worst ever point total in a Premier League season. No matter what happens Sunday, all will not be lost as they’ll still end up in the Europa Conference League if West Ham does end up jumping them in the table. Playing for a lame duck manager, I can just not see United doing better than a draw in this circumstance. Palace has been the better side and is deserving of a Top 10 finish. Play the underdog on the Goal Line. 10* Crystal Palace (Goal Line)

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