NFL Week 8 Wrapup & Monday Night Preview

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Hurley's MNF record now 6-3.

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SUNDAY NFL WRAP-UPS
COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEKEND ROUNDUP

By Jim Hurley:

Anyone that's been a regular reader here at Jim Sez knows we like to toss in a neat little overview after a jam-packed NFL Sunday and here's something we haven't said in about a gazillion years ...

For the second week in a row, the Oakland Raiders won by a larger margin than did any other NFL team!

Last week the Raiders pummeled the hapless Denver Broncos 59-14 and then they followed that up with Sunday's 33-3 beat-down of the Seattle Seahawks.

Imagine that: A team that is a composite 33-87 SU (straightup) since its last appearance in a Super Bowl game (see 2002 season) now has won its last two games by a combined 75 points.

Yup, it's been a real strange season in the NFL and that just about proves our point.

The Raiders are hoping this turns out to be a special season - and Sunday Night a team that had one of the most special seasons ever in the NFL last year showed it should not be cast aside when talking about league powers this year.

The New Orleans Saints toughed out a 20-10 prime-time win against the Pittsburgh Steelers (our NFL Prime Time Play of the Month Winner) and it's the Saints and one of the teams they are chasing in the NFC South - that's the Tampa Bay Bucs - who'll get our spotlight here in just a moment along with our Monday Night Football Preview but first a word to the wise:

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THE NFL WEEK 8 KEY RE-CAPS

NEW ORLEANS 20, PITTSBURGH 10 - Leave it to the Saints and their costume-wearing fans to have the most fun on Halloween Night! Hurley customers certainly had fun with this game on the Closed Circuit Club, 2-1 with the Lions beating the Redskins 37-25 as the NFL Mismatch of the Month and also winning with these Saints as our Prime Time Game of the Month!

Left for dead by some folks this year following losses to Atlanta, Arizona and Cleveland, the Saints entered this tilt knowing full well that their season was very much on the line and Sean Payton's club responded with the best effort since - well, that Super Bowl 44 win last February.

It's one thing that New Orleans QB Drew Brees completed 20-of-22 passes after intermission en route to a 34-of-44, 305-yard, 2-TD game but completely another thing that the Saints defense - and specifically the much-maligned secondary - stood tall when the heat was on. Not only did DB Leigh Torrence ice this win with a late-game interception of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (17-of-28 passing for 195 yards with no TDs) but the N'Orleans secondary stifled WR Hines Ward (three catches for 15 yards) and delivered more than a few hellacious blows to the likes of TE Heath Miller whose lost fumble turned out to be the biggest play in the game.

The overview?

Well, maybe you don't want to be too quick to anoint the Saints the mid-season "favorites" to represent the NFC again in the Super Bowl but now that Payton's showing some of his old gambling ways and Brees is getting back his long-lost accuracy, you could make the case that the Saints will ride this Halloween win to a big second half.

Consider that the Saints are at lowly Carolina this week, then enjoy a bye and then host Seattle before very winnable road games in Dallas and in Cincinnati. Maybe they don't lose prior to that Dec. 19th game in Baltimore - and maybe that will be only the first of two meetings between those powers when all's said and done. Stay tuned.

TAMPA BAY 38, ARIZONA 35 - A Touchdown Club winner! Forget about Peyton Manning and Brett Favre and all those old-timers: The NFL's newest fourth-quarter comeback king is the Bucs' Josh Freeman who may look more like a GQ model than a pro football player but did you know he's now six fourth-quarter comeback wins in his 16-game career?

Freeman's latest adventure was aided-and-abetted by a Tampa Bay defense that intercepted two passes for touchdowns - Geno Hayes dashed 41 yards and CB Aqib Talib darted 45 yards for their scores - but when all the dust settled in the desert it was Freeman (278 yards passing with 1 TD and - more importantly - no INTs) who played deftly and way beyond his years and so the NFC South leader board this morning shows the Bucs and the idle Atlanta Falcons knotted at 5-2 and so maybe the apathetic fans in the Tampa Bay/St. Pete area will start to show up for the team's final four regular-season home games.

Meanwhile, if Freeman was the #1 hero here than rookie RB LeGarrette Blount had to be #1A - Blount's 22-carry, 120-yard, two-TD game showed that this punch-happy rookie can/will be a big part of a team's pro offense and what about Blount's high-hurdle move on a big fourth-quarter run? Wow-wow-wow!   

Here's some quick-hitter comments on a few of the other NFL Week 8 games on Sunday:

The Miami Dolphins (4-3) have now been involved in seven games in which the road team won following the 22-14 triumph at Cincinnati. Too bad the Fish still have five home games remaining on their schedule ... The Donovan McNabb benching late in Washington's 37-25 loss in Detroit proved two things: McNabb may be closer to being finished than anyone cares to admit and 'Skins head coach Mike Shanahan (by inserting Rex Grossman who fumbled) showed he's not quite an "A" coach in this league anymore ... The New York Jets' 9-0 home loss to Green Bay might have been the most boring meaningful game in recent NFL history and so much for WR Santonio Holmes who dropped two critical passes.

Here's a solution to the whole Favre mess in Minnesota: Make the old man retire before he gets suspended for his naughty cell phone photos and tell him to take his bloody chinstrap with 'em ... Kansas City's down-to-the-nub 13-10 OT win against Buffalo (the Bills were a relatively easy cover for the Blue Ribbon service) was like a 15-round heavyweight fight and the only guy who looked fresh from start to finish was Chiefs RB Jamal Charles (22 carries for 177 yards).

Finally, best quote of the week comes from Dallas owner Jerry Jones who following his team's 35-17 loss to 6 ½-point underdog Jacksonville: "I'm dumbfounded." Did Mr. Jones really believe this club had the skills/smarts to get to the Super Bowl in Arlington because the O-line was an issue from the get-go and this club's general IQ was low, low low.

Can you imagine if the Cowboys - instead of playing a Super Bowl in their own backyard - are taking the NFL's #1 pick in next year's draft? Yikes!


COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEKEND REPORT

If it walks like a duck and scores like a Duck than it must be a you-know-what. The Oregon Ducks (8-0) may change personnel from one year to another and they may change their uniform colors/designs more than a runway model but this here-and-now team - just anointed #1 in the latest BCS Standings (and deservedly so, we might add) - is consistently a scoring machine and last Saturday's 53-32 triumph at USC was just the latest A-bomb dropped on a Pac-10 foe.

Did you realize that Oregon is averaging 50 points a game in its five conference wins this year and there doesn't appear to be any letting up ahead - in fact, RB LaMichael James (239 yards rushing and three scores against the Men of Troy) really is just starting to hit his stride after some ankle woes slowed 'em down earlier this season and it's not far-fetched at all to believe that what happened in 2009 could happen in the College Football world in 2010:

A Heisman Trophy winner playing on a national champion team.

Last year it was RB Mark Ingram and the Alabama Crimson Tide swiping all the trophies/hardware and we could see a similar scenario here with James and his Ducks.

One more thing: In Oregon's latest win, the Ducks scored four touchdowns from 30 yards and out - they've proven that this machine-like offense is capable of scoring from anywhere on the field and there are only a couple of other FBS teams that could probably say the same (see Oklahoma and maybe Boise State).

Consider that Oregon scored 53 points and had the ball against USC for only 27:25 - scary stuff!
    
Two quickie items from this past weekend's College Football results:

Now Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly knows how recent Fighting Irish coaches felt - tough losses (especially at home) plus Kelly has an extra heavy burden on him now that he admitted his part in allowing that 20-year old student videographer to stay in that tower during 50 mph winds last week that resulted in the death of Declan Sullivan.

Some folks believe that Kelly - tough exterior and all - may not be part of the Notre Dame scene for long and who ever thought that discussing a ND successor in November of 2010 would be possible but the rumors are out there ...

Finally, speaking of coaches that may or may not be on the move, this past weekend's wins by Baylor's Art Briles (a 30-22 victor at Texas) and Iowa State's Paul Rhoads (a 28-16 winner one week after his club doused aforementioned Texas) could have them getting positioned for bigger/better things next year. Both would be ideal candidates to take Colorado into its Pac-12 days.

Note: Catch our College Football Mid-Week Report in the next edition of Jim Sez.

21
Nov

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