NFL Opening Night and Weekday College Previews

Hurley Splits Out On Thursday Football
Wins with Vikings, comes up short with Mississippi State

A 1-for-3 Day At The Track Brings Home The Money!
Turfway R7: Scilly WON $14.00

IT'S "GO TIME" FOR THE NFL 2010 SEASON - WE PREVIEW THURSDAY'S VIKINGS-SAINTS CLASH PLUS UP-TO-THE-VERY-MINUTE SUPER BOWL XLV ODDS TO WIN IT ALL ...

OUR COLLEGE FOOTBALL MID-WEEK REPORT BREAKS DOWN SOME THURSDAY/FRIDAY ACTION (SEE AUBURN-MISS STATE, WEST VIRGINIA-MARSHALL AND UTEP-HOUSTON)

By Jim Hurley:

Gee, wonder what kind of mood "Who Dat" Nation will be in just prior to the start of the NFL 2010 season!

The New Orleans Saints - yes, the defending Super Bowl champion Saints - thrilled/delighted their long-suffering fans last year with a ride of a lifetime that was capped by the glorious 31-17 win against the 4 ½-point favored Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV and now Bourbon Street is bustling again with folks wondering Can the Saints do it again?

No doubt recent history suggest they won't - after all, the NFL's last repeat champion came back in the 2004 season when New England scored an encore SB crown - but you have to go all the walk back to the early 1990s to find the last NFC team to repeat as Super Bowl champs (see the 1992-93 Dallas Cowboys, of course). As you can see by our accompanying Super Bowl XLV Odds to Win it All chart below, the Saints are favored to get back to the promised land and they hope to get the journey started with a Kickoff Game win on Thursday night against the Minnesota Vikings - now you talk about great gridiron theatre!

Minnesota was one fatal QB Brett Favre interception away from getting a shot at a game-winning field goal in last season's NFC Championship Game inside the Louisiana Superdome and maybe no team suffered through more sleepless nights this past off-season than the Vikes.

Now, Favre's back for another grab at the brass ring and the Vikings have major revenge on their minds for this prime-time tilt in New Orleans.

Let's get ready to rumble!

We'll have our Vikings-Saints Jim Sez preview in just a moment plus there is plenty of College Football action as we head towards a real rock-'em, sock-'em weekend - you've seen the sked with blockbuster showdowns on tap between Florida State at Oklahoma, Michigan at Notre Dame, Miami at Ohio State, Oregon at Tennessee and Penn State at Alabama (among others) - but first check out this following reminder:

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you all the NCAA Football and NFL Winners plus Major-League Baseball too when check in every day: Just call the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or else get your picks here online and we'll bang out a parade of winners! Sign up today and get the discounted price for the whole Football Season! Make sure you're in the winner's circle all season long!

SUPER BOWL XLV ODDS TO WIN IT ALL

Okay, folks, here are the absolute up-to-the-very-minute Super Bowl XLV Odds to Win it All (and note all figures below are based on $100 per-play wagers):

TEAM

ODDS TO WIN IT ALL

Indianapolis

+ 300

New Orleans

+ 650

Dallas

+ 700

Green Bay

+ 700

Minnesota

+ 750

New England

+ 770

Baltimore

+ 800

San Diego

+ 870

NY Jets

+ 900

Atlanta

+ 1200

NY Giants

+ 1500

Cincinnati

+ 1600

Pittsburgh

+ 1600

Miami

+ 2000

Philadelphia

+ 2000

San Francisco

+ 2100

Washington

+ 2200

Chicago

+ 2300

Houston

+ 2500

Tennessee

+ 2500

Arizona

+ 3000

Carolina

+ 3000

Denver

+ 3000

Seattle

+ 3800

Jacksonville

+ 7000

Kansas City

+ 7000

Cleveland

+ 7500

Oakland

+ 7500

Buffalo

+ 9000

Detroit

+ 9500

St. Louis

+ 9500

Tampa Bay

+ 9500

 

The Touchdown Club of the Jim Hurley Network is already cashing in, having won 4 straight! Click here to win with Hurley on Thursday's big football night!

 

NFL KICKOFF 2010: VIKES-SAINTS GET IT ALL REVVED UP

MINNESOTA at NEW ORLEANS - 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Here's a factoid to get us all started here:

Since the NFL realigned its divisions prior to the 2002 season, there have been 26 different teams (out of 32) that have copped divisional crowns and note the Vikings and Saints each have snagged two divisional titles apiece in recent seasons - last year it was New Orleans with the #1 seed in the NFC Playoffs and Minnesota with the #2 seed in that conference and would anyone really be surprised if Minny and N'Orleans are the NFC's #1 and #2 seeds (in either order) once again?

The Saints have barely changed personnel on offense one year after leading the NFL in scoring (510 points) and total offense (404 yards a game) but note that QB Drew Brees and Company only accounted for 257 total offensive yards in last year's 31-28 non-cover overtime win in the NFC Championship Game against the four-point underdog Vikes. Here, expect Brees to throw more on first downs - the Saints converted on only 3-of-12 third-down plays in that title tilt - against a Minnesota defense that really sports only three healthy cornerbacks here (see Antoine Winfield, Lito Sheppard and Asher Allen).

Meanwhile, the Vikings' game plan figures to be a tad more conservative - can't see Minnesota head coach Brad Childress subjecting QB Favre to all that many hits here just weeks after the 40-year-old gunslinger underwent ankle surgery and so odds are RB Adrian Peterson (1,383 yards rushing and 18 TDs last year) should get a steady dose of handoffs here - maybe as many as 30 carries if Minny is not playing from behind.

Yes, you recall how Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams had his troops zeroing in on Favre and making him pay for every pass downfield.

Two more quickie notes on this must-watch game:

The Saints have a slew of banged-up players but everyone's supposed to go including LB Jonathan Vilma (groin), CB Tracy Porter (knee) and WR Marques Colston (kidney/knee) but all of the above may be less than 100 percent after having practiced on a somewhat limited basis in recent days/weeks;

Plus, the Vikings have their own injury woes with WR Sidney Rice (team-leading 83 catches last year) gone for the year (hip) and so late-summer acquisition WR Greg Camarillo could be a favorite target for Favre here on third-down and short-yardage plays - if the former Miami Dolphins' pass-catcher grabs 8-to-10 balls here than it's a good sign for the NFC North crew.

Spread Notes -- Minnesota is 6-2 ATS (against the spread) in its last eight season-opening games including last year's 34-20 triumph over 4-point home dog Cleveland. Note that the Vikes are a shabby 19-25-2 versus the vig away while dating back to late in the 2004 campaign. Meanwhile, New Orleans is 18-10 ATS as betting favorites since late in the 2007 season and did you remember that the Saints started off last season 6-and-oh against the odds? Finally, since the start of '02 these NFC clubs have collided head-to-head on five different occasions and Minny's covered all five games - really!

 

NCAA FOOTBALL: THE THURSDAY & FRIDAY GAMES PREVIEWS
    
On Thursday, it's ...

#21 AUBURN (1-0) at MISSISSIPPI STATE (1-0) - 7:45 p.m. ET, ESPN
In case you were wondering, Auburn is one of seven Southeastern Conference teams in this week's Associated Press Top 25 poll and here the Tigers are gunning for a fifth consecutive win at cowbell-crazy Starkville.

The last time Auburn paid a visit to Miss State was two years ago when the Tigers snagged an unsightly 3-2 win but you can look for more offense here as Gene Chizik's club has a hot-shot quarterback on his side in Cameron Newton - dubbed the SEC Offensive Player of the Week following his snazzy showing in last Saturday's 52-26 non-cover win against 31-point pup Arkansas State.

Newton - who began his career at Florida - wound up throwing for 186 yards and three TDs and rushing for 171 yards and two scores last week and here gets to tangle with a State defense that is inexperienced along the front line and generally untested following last Saturday's ho-hum 49-7 win/cover against overmatched three-TD dog Memphis.

Key here is who does State head coach Dan Mullen decide on as his crunch-time quarterback - will it be junior Chris Reif or freshman Tyler Russell? Note the latter completed 13-of-16 passes for 256 yards and four TDs in that lopsided season-opening home win.

Spread Notes - Auburn has covered six of the last eight head-to-head battles against Mississippi State dating back to the 2002 season. Note that the Auburn Tigers, however, are a money-burning 6-13 ATS against fellow SEC foes the past two-plus seasons while the M-State Bulldogs are a rotten 10-17 versus the vig at home since the start of the 2005 season.

On Friday, it's ...

#23 WEST VIRGINIA (1-0) at MARSHALL (0-1) - 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Nothing like season-opening games against #2 Ohio State and then nationally-ranked West Virginia to get your head coaching career off to a blazing start ... right "Doc" Holliday?

The long-time college assistant and now first-year boss-man of the Marshall Thundering Herd could have asked for a softer landing to start his time with this Conference USA crew but that's the breaks and so the home folks will look to pull the shocker -- but they better not commit another three turnovers and total less than 200 offensive yards here (see last Thursday's 45-7 loss at 28-point fav Ohio State).

One thing to watch for WVU: RB Noel Devine rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown in last weekend's 31-0 scrimmage-like win against Coastal Carolina but he can count on more than 23 carries here as this intra-state rivalry means a lot to Mountaineer Nation and head coach Bill Stewart: Gut feeling is Devine gets his mitts on the ball at least 35 times here as a rusher/receiver.

Spread Notes - West Virginia has failed to cover seven of its last 10 out-of-conference affairs since the start of the 2008 season. Meanwhile, the WVU Mountaineers are 3-8 against the odds whenever laying double-digit price tags going back to late in the 2007 season. Marshall enters this in-state shindig with a dismal 3-10-1 ATS mark in non-league affairs the past four-plus seasons. Last year the Thundering Herd slipped under the 20-point price in a 24-7 loss in Morgantown.

    
UTEP (1-0) at HOUSTON (1-0) - 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
No doubt that you've been hearing all the talk about potential BCS-busters Boise State and TCU - well, don't sleep on the 2010 Houston Cougars!

Kevin Sumlin's club brought back eight starters from last year's #1 scoring offense in the country (42.2 ppg) and trigger-man QB Case Keenum hasn't missed a beat. The senior slinger - who happened to be our Jim Sez leader in the Heisman Trophy race for much of the 2009 season - already put his stamp on this current campaign by chucking five scoring strikes in last weekend's easy-as-pie 68-28 win against Texas State.

Keenum - who only played the first half of that opener - did toss a pair of picks in that contest and so that's the front-and-center storyline here:

Can UTEP's wobbly defense (allowed 33.5 ppg a game last year to rank 104th nationally) put mucho pressure on the Coog quarterback here - if not, it could be a major fireworks display at Robertson Stadium.

Note that Houston jumped from a 17 ½-point to 19 ½-point betting favorite earlier this week and last year the Cougars hit the 50-or-more point mark on four different occasions.

Spread Notes - Houston's covered just 13 of its last 30 games when in the favorite's role and that includes last year's stunning 58-41 setback at two-TD dog UTEP. On the flip side, the Texas-El Paso Miners are just 10-15 overall spreadwise since the start of the 2008 season and that includes a dead-even but vig-losing 8-8 ATS record in Conference USA affairs.

NOTE: Catch our College Football Game Previews - the famed "Saturday Six-Pack" - in the next edition of Jim Sez and don't miss our NFL Week 1 Sunday Game Previews in our Saturday column/edition.

19
Aug

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