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Jim Sez : 2/2/2011
Cashline Basketball Goes 2-0 on Tuesday
SUPER BOWL XLV NEWS & NOTES: OUR MID-WEEK ANALYSIS FEATURES "WHEN THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS HAVE THE BALL" PLUS THE ALL-TIME SUPER BOWL STANDINGS ...
COLLEGE BASKETBALL REPORT: WE DO OWN BRACKETLOGY BIT WITH A CRYSTAL BALL LOOK AT WHO WILL BE THE TOP FOUR SEEDS IN EACH REGION PLUS THERE'S QUICK-HITTER MID-WEEK GAME PREVIEWS TOO
By Jim Hurley:
Thank goodness that the NFL Media Day is over and done with - now we can get down to nuts-and-bolts talk regarding Super Bowl XLV between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers and later on in this mid-week edition of Jim Sez we'll delve into our next category:
"When the Pittsburgh Steelers Have the Ball" - and keep in mind we'll have our complete and comprehensive Super Bowl XLV Preview later this week right here in Jim Sez.
Now, let's drop some knowledge on you regarding these two Super Bowl teams:
The NFC champion Packers are the first #6 seed in this conference to make to this ultimate game since the NFL re-jiggered its playoff format back in 1990 but did you know that Green Bay is 5-4 SU (straightup) against NFL teams that made it to the post-season this year while GB's a tasty 6-3 ATS (against the spread) in the nine games played against fellow playoff squads and that includes a clean post-season sweep SU and ATS versus Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago.
On the flip side, the Steelers are 4-4 SU this season against teams that made it to the playoffs this season while Pittsburgh's also a collective 4-4 ATS in these affairs and that includes the back-to-back AFC playoff wins/covers against Baltimore and the New York Jets.
The Steelers, in fact, enter Super Bowl XLV on a four-game spread winning streak and they've notched spread "W's" in six of their last seven games while the Packers have covered three in a row overall and five of their last six games.
Once upon a time there was an old wives tale that claimed the team that entered the Super Bowl on the longer pointspread winning streak usually won/covered the Super Bowl but note that was not the case a year ago when the New Orleans Saints entered Super Bowl XLIV off a pointspread loss in the NFC Championship Game against Minnesota while the Indianapolis Colts came into the big game off back-to-back pointspread victories.
Final score: New Orleans 31, Indianapolis 17
Now, this important reminder:
Jim Hurley and his Handicappers and Bloggers will release the Side & Totals Winners for Super Bowl XLV on game-day morning and plus remember to get all the 2010-11 College Basketball and NBA Winners too each and every day as the hoop season's really in full swing these days with lots of great action on tap. Go ahead and join Jim as he crushes Las Vegas and the off-shore books too in these coming days/weeks and you can go ahead and cash in when you give us game-day calls at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or else when you just log online right here. Check in via the toll-free telephone # or else online on Mondays-through-Fridays anytime after 1 p.m. ET for all the NCAA Basketball and NBA games and then check with us any time after 10 a.m. ET this Saturday and Sunday for all the weekend b-ball action and - of course - SB XLV.
SUPER BOWL XLV NEWS & NOTES - WHEN THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS HAVE THE BALL
Maybe most in-the-know folks don't really consider the Steelers to sport a juggernaut offense but the fact of the matter is Pittsburgh's averaged nearly 31 points a game in its last four outings -- a pair of late-year regular-season victories against Carolina and Cleveland and then the aforementioned playoff victories against Baltimore and the New York Jets - and there's no denying that QB Ben Roethlisberger has grown increasingly comfortable with his kiddie corps of wide receivers that includes rookies Emmanuel Sanders (SMU) and Antonio Brown (Central Michigan) as both of these first-year players have shined at various times lately in post-season play
Still, as anyone that eyeballed Pittsburgh's 24-19 hang-on-for-dear-life win against the 4-point underdog Jets in the AFC Championship Game two weeks ago, it's RB Rashard Mendenhall and that physical ground game that's really the key to this AFC North offense. If the ground-and-pound mentality is clicking here on Super Bowl Sunday, than the Steelers figure to be ultra-tough to beat.
Remember that Mendenhall cranked out 121 rushing yards against the Jets (including 94 yards in the opening half when Pittsburgh charged out to a 24-0 lead) and his ability to deflate an opposing team's defense was evident in that game-opening 15-play, 66-yard touchdown drive that consumed nearly six full minutes of clock. Just as we stated in our case for Green Bay in the prior edition of Jim Sez - the Packers need close to a 50-50 run/pass balance to really thrive come Sunday night in Arlington - the Steelers need your basic 60-40 rush/pass ratio here.
Note that in the win against the Jets two weekends ago, the Steelers rushed the ball 43 times and passed it just 19 times (a 69-to-31 percent split) but odds are Roethlisberger will have to throw it more here and so the big question is how will this oft-criticized offensive line hold up?
As you know, rookie center Maurkice Pouncey (high ankle sprain) needed crutches when de-boarding the team plane the other day and so it sure appears that backup C Doug Legursky will be thrust into the starter's role here and keep an eye peeled how he handles shotgun snaps - it could become an issue if Green Bay D-lineman B.J. Raji is breathing down his neck. Plus, the Steelers may want to keep TE Heath Miller in more for blocking purposes and that would eliminate one key target for Roethlisberger.
Finally, the Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is never afraid to mix in a flea-flicker play in big games and so don't discount the possibility that WRs Hines Ward of Antwaan Randle-El throws a pass here and that usually happens on the "plus side" of the 50-yard line (enemy territory).
THE ALL-TIME SUPER BOWLSTRAIGHTUP STANDINGS
THE COLLEGE BASKETBALL REPORT: BRACKETOLOGY TALK PLUS MID-WEEK PREVIEWS TOO
As if you haven't noticed, everyone's weighing in these days when it comes to forecasting the top 4 or top 8 or top 16 seeds in next month's NCAA Tournament but now that the calendar page has been flipped forward to read "February" we'll get into the mix too.
In today's Jim Sez we'll go 'round the land and project the top four seeds in each region while doing our best to "balance out" the regions. Note that the sites listed below correspond with where the top four seeds in each region would wind up considering they won first- and second-round games. Here goes:
SOUTHEAST - at New Orleans (Louisiana Superdome)
WEST - at Anaheim (Honda Center)
EAST - at Newark (Prudential Center)
SOUTHWEST - at San Antonio (Alamodome)
We'll have plenty more NCAA Tournament Bracketology talk in the days and weeks ahead.
COLLEGE B-BALL MID-WEEK PREVIEWS
On Wednesday, it's ...
#17 SYRACUSE (18-4, 5-4 Big East) at #6 CONNECTICUT (17-3, 5-3 Big East) - 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
On Thursday, it's ...
Rutgers (+8.5) over Pitt
New Mexico (+3.5) over BYU
Penn State (+4.5) over Wisconsin
Marquette (-2) over Syracuse
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