NFL Week 4 Previews
Closed Circuit Goes 2-0 Saturday!
Navy (+9.5) Air Force 6-14 WON!
Iowa (-7) Penn State 24-3 WON!
Keys up a 5-2 day for all Network services
And Big Ten Triple Play Sweeps!
Indiana (+10) Michigan 35-42 WON
Michigan/Indiana (Over 65) WON
Michigan State (+2) Wisconsin 34-24 WON
THE NFL WEEK #4 GAME PREVIEWS - CAN THE STEELERS AND BEARS STAY PERFECT? PLUS (OF COURSE) MCNABB'S RETURN TO PHILLY AND PLENTY OF NFL POINTSPREAD TIDBITS
By Jim Hurley:
Is it really possible that the Kansas City Chiefs will be the last unbeaten team standing at the end of NFL Week #4?
Okay, so the Chiefs are one of four NFL teams with a bye this Sunday (along with Dallas, Minnesota and Tampa Bay) but if both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Chicago Bears get beat this weekend than KayCee's the king of the NFL hill (for now) with a dandy 3-and-oh mark.
Last year the NFL went deep, deep, deep into the regular season before the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints finally lost a game and then they wound up squaring off in a very exciting Super Bowl XLIV clash in Miami - just wondering aloud here whether the Chiefs/ Steelers will be meeting up with the Bears in this year's Super Bowl.
Sounds preposterous ... ya' never know!
NFL RIVALRY PARLAY OF THE MONTH
First the Ravens take on the undefeated Steelers in Pittsburgh, who are without Big Ben.
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NFL WEEK #4 PREVIEWS
BALTIMORE (2-1) at PITTSBURGH (3-0) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS
You better believe there's been a bunch of "Who's Ben?" signs sprouting up in the Steel City as Pittsburgh seeks to notch its first 4-0 SU (straightup) start in the past 31 years.
The four-game suspension of QB Ben Roethlisberger was supposed to have a crippling effect on the six-time Super Bowl champions but instead his absence has galvanized this AFC North crew - wheel in any number of quarterbacks (see Dennis Dixon, Charlie Batch, etc.) and the Steelers just keep on truckin' thanks to a dominant defense that may already have two Defensive Player of the Year candidates in S Troy Polamalu and LB James Harrison.
The Steelers' stop unit has yielded a grand total of 33 points so far in wins against Atlanta, Tennessee and Tampa Bay and now Mike Tomlin's club - and Hall of Fame defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's unit -- has squarely put a target on Baltimore QB Joe Flacco (5 INTs already in 2010) here.
How do the Ravens survive a possible poor game by Flacco (see 59.2 career passer rating in three games at Heinz Field)?
The answer is they probably don't but the presence of do-everything RB Ray Rice (his bruised right knee won't keep him out here) has gotta help and the Ravens need Rice to make all the tough inside yards here ... or else.
Spread Notes - Pittsburgh registered a wobbly 1-4-1 ATS (against the spread) mark inside the AFC North a year ago but the Steelers are a perfect 3-and-oh spreadwise out of the 2010 starting gate. Baltimore is a money-losing 8-12-1 vig-wise when playing fellow divisional foes the past three-plus seasons and that includes back-to-back spread setbacks this year at Cincinnati in Week #2 and home to Cleveland in Week #3.
CAROLINA (0-3) at NEW ORLEANS (2-1) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Normally, this sort of "pushover" game wouldn't get our undivided attention in a listing of Jim Sez NFL Game Previews but we just had to ask ... what's really wrong with the defending Super Bowl champions?
The 2010 New Orleans Saints have not looked crisp on offense in any of their first three games - wins against Minnesota and at San Francisco and then last week's 27-24 overtime loss against 3-point pup Atlanta - and even with last week's 30-of-38, 365-yard, three-TD game by QB Drew Brees it appears the Saints are out of sync at critical times. Now, New Orleans is reaching back into the time machine to ask 46-year-old John Carney to make the big field goals for'em this weekend after 2009 post-season hero PK Garrett Hartley botched last week's gimme 29-yard FG try in the extra session.
If Carolina appears to be the perfect stooge for the Saints here than consider that the Panthers can be encouraged by the fact New Orleans allowed 202 rushing yards versus Atlanta last Sunday afternoon - and here comes RBs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart just chomping at the bit to break loose after a slow start (just 248 combined rushing yards through the first three games).
Spread Notes - The Saints are actually 2-8-1 against the odds in their last 11 games dating back to late last season and did you know that New Orleans failed to cover five of its seven games last year when in the role of double-digit betting favorite? On the flip side, Carolina has dropped all three of its spread verdicts to start off this tormented 2010 season but the Panthers did ring up a nifty 5-1 ATS log inside the NFC South last year and that included the 30-20 loss-but-cover at 11 ½-point fav N'Orleans.
WASHINGTON (1-2) at PHILADELPHIA (2-1) - 4:15 p.m. ET, Fox
Yes, he's baaack ... but whoever would have thought the return of QB Donovan McNabb to Philly in a strange-looking Washington Redskins uniform would have come at precisely the same time the Philadelphia Eagles would be experiencing a renaissance at that very position?
The Week #1 concussion suffered by Eagles' slinger Kevin Kolb opened the door for Michael Vick and all he's done is lead the Birds to back-to-back road wins against Detroit and Jacksonville and his numbers thus far are simply staggering: Vick's thrown for 750 yards with 6 TDs and 0 INTs and he's averaged 7.4 yards a rush while netting 170 ground yards - McNabb (833 passing yards this year) has had his moments in D.C. but he's the "second fiddle" guy here, folks!
If McNabb can filter out all the boo-birds (and there will be plenty of'em) and play a little pitch-and-catch with favorite target WR Santana Moss (22 receptions and a 13.2 yards-per-grab average) than the'Skins could harbor real hopes of the road upset in this clash but look for one major key to be the Eagles running a lot of misdirection plays at a Washington defense that has surrendered 30 points in each of its last two games (losses to Houston and St. Louis).
Spread Notes - Philadelphia is a solid 18-11 ATS as betting favorites since the start of the 2008 season and that includes last week's 28-3 win/cover against 3-point underdog Jacksonville. Meanwhile, Washington is 8-4-3 versus the vig whenever taking points dating back to late in the '08 campaign and did you know that the road teams are 13-6 spreadwise in this series since midway of the 2000 season?
On Sunday Nite, it's ...
CHICAGO (3-0) at NEW YORK GIANTS (1-2) - 8:25 p.m. ET, NBC
Here's what the still-perfect Bears have to be thinking while heading into this prime-time tilt at the New Meadowlands Stadium:
Do everything in your power to keep the heat off QB Jay Cutler (870 yards passing with 6 TDs and 2 INTs this year), force the NY Giants into two or three turnovers and you get to walk out of Gotham City at 4-and-oh.
Easier said than done?
Well, consider that Chicago's updated offensive game plans - all masterminded by first-year offensive coordinator Mike Martz - contain a slew of quick-hitter passes by Cutler who is not asked to stand in the pocket for all that long (yes, the Bears' offensive line is not particularly a strong point) and the Giants have yet to show that fierce pass rush thus far in 2010. Then toss into the mix the fact the Giants' defense is allowing nearly 137 rushing yards per outing (ranked 26th in the NFL) and there could be those opportunities to bust a big one for RB Matt Forte who's averaging a paltry 2.8 yards a carry so far.
As far as those Giants' turnovers, well, Tom Coughlin's club has been on a self-destructive path so far in 2010 with 10 miscues already in the first three weeks and let's not forget about all those penalties we alluded to in a recent Jim Sez column (see five personal foul penalties in last weekend's 291-0 home loss to 3-point underdog Tennessee).
One last note of advice to the G-men: Don't punt the ball to Devin Hester (see 62-yard punt bring-back for a touchdown in last Monday's stirring 20-17 win against Green Bay) ... or you won't live to tell about it!
Spread Notes - The Giants have failed to cover seven of their last 10 games against fellow NFC opponents. Meanwhile, Chicago's just 6-10-1 ATS away the past two-plus seasons and the Bears are just 6-11-1 spreadwise as point-grabbers despite dog covers this year versus Dallas and Green Bay.
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NFL WEEK #4 POINTSPREAD TIDBITS
Here's more around-the-league pointpsread facts/figures pertaining to other NFL Week #4 games:
- The Atlanta Falcons have notched spread wins in 12 of their last 17 home games;
- The Cincinnati Bengals are 2-11 ATS as betting favorites the past two-plus campaigns;
- The Denver Broncos have lost their last five spread decisions against fellow AFC competition;
- The Green Bay Packers are 7-1 ATS in their last eight showdowns with NFC North rival Detroit;
- The Houston Texans are 8-4-1 against the odds away dating back to late in the 2008 season;
- The Indianapolis Colts have covered just seven of their last 17 games when favored against rival Jacksonville;
- The New York Jets have failed to cover nine of their last 13 spread verdicts against Buffalo;
- The Oakland Raiders are a dreadful 17-38-1 ATS as hosts dating back to the start of 2003;
- The Seattle Seahawks have lost nine of their last 10 spread decisions away;
- And the Tennessee Titans are 16-12-1 ATS as betting favorites since late in the 2007 season.
NOTE: Get our NFL Monday Night Football Preview - that's the New England Patriots at the Miami Dolphins - plus all the weekend NCAA Football and NFL Week #4 roundups in the next edition of Jim Sez.
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