Turkey Day & Friday Football Previews



By Jim Hurley:

Pass the cranberry sauce - and while you're at it -- can you hand us the remote control too! It's Thanksgiving Day 2011 and there's high-quality wall-to-wall football and go ahead and tell Uncle Billy to stop dozing on the couch and politely ask Aunt Donna to make sure we can eat between games on this special holiday. Just call it a veritable Football Feast - and now hear this:

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will be winning big-time in NFL Week 12 action beginning with the Thanksgiving Day tripleheader (see our Jim Sez Previews below) and don't forget all the College Football & Basketball action all holiday week/weekend long. Ladies and gents, it's the start of The Annual Jim Hurley Thanksgiving Turkey Shoot - that's Five (5) full days/nights of winning action - beginning here and going right through Monday Night Football (that's the New York Giants at the New Orleans Saints). Remember that you can have it all when checking with us at the toll-free # of 1-800-323-4453 or else go online right here online for all the gridiron winners. It's only $100 for the whole Turkey Shoot ... so what are you waiting for?


GREEN BAY (10-0) at DETROIT (7-3) - 12:30 p.m. ET, Fox
Ever hear about "must-see TV" ... well that's the case here as we all begin a monstrous week/weekend of NFL, College Football and College Basketball action but you could say this might well be the best gridiron game on the whole docket that includes 4 football games on Thanksgiving, 14 games the day-after-Thanksgiving, 38 games on Saturday, 12 NFL games on Sunday and then the cherry-on-top Monday Night Football bash from New Orleans.

Hey, it's the "perfect Packers" who represent the first NFL unbeaten team in nearly 50 years to play on Thanksgiving Day (see the 1962 Packers who ironically enough lost in Detroit that year on Turkey Day) and they bring into this NFC North hoedown the best offense in the league while averaging 407 yards and let's not lose sight of the fact Green Bay's won its last 16 consecutive games while the Lions have lost their last seven Thanksgiving Day games by a per-game margin of 22.9 points - yikes!

If the Lions - a 6-point home underdog at press time - want to kayo the Packers' dreamy season than Detroit's defense must collect a batch of negative-yard plays and some turnovers too. Note that Detroit has 27 quarterback sacks and so DL Ndamukong Suh and mates will fiercely pursue Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers (3,168 yards passing with 31 TDs and 4 INTs) plus the home folks must not be so darn careless when they have the ball (see three turnovers on their first three possessions in last week's wild 49-35 win/cover against Carolina).

Detroit QB Matthew Stafford (2,843 yards passing with 25 TDs and 10 INTs) can run hot-and-cold in the same game but he better know where his bread is buttered and so WR Calvin Johnson (11 TDs) must get into the act ASAP.

Spread Notes - Green Bay is 7-3 against the odds overall this "perfect season" and note the Packers enter this holiday affair at 18-6 vig-wise since early in the 2010 campaign (folks, that's an incredible .750 winning rate). Note that GB's also covered seven of its last 10 head-to-head showdowns with the rival Lions. Meanwhile, note that Detroit is a rock-solid 6-3-1 ATS (against the spread) this season and the Lions are 6-2-1 spreadwise in NFC North affairs since the start of last season.
MIAMI (3-7) at DALLAS (6-4) - 4:15 p.m. ET, CBS
Okay, so if Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson was lauded as Mr. October than does than officially make Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo Mr. November?

No doubt by now you're well aware of the fact Romo's career record in this month is a dazzling 18-2 SU and he's already posted wins this month against Seattle, Buffalo and Washington with last Sunday's 27-24 overtime triumph a real statement game for the "Boys who made the big pass completion in OT - see Romo-to-WR Dez Bryant for 26 yards - and now Jason Garrett's gang tries to make it four wins in a row with this Turkey Day tilt against suddenly hot Miami. And whoever figured the Dolphins would have a shot at winning four in a row when this season started with seven straight losses and a whole lot of dissension?

If the Fish - a solid TD underdog for this game in Arlington - is gonna be hanging around at the finish line than QB Matt Moore must continue to keep mistakes to a bare minimum and note he comes off a 3-TD effort in last Sunday's easy-as-pie 35-8 home win against Buffalo.

Spread Notes - Dallas is a rotten 4-8-1 versus the vig in its last baker's dozen games dating back to late last year but did you know the Cowboys have covered their last five consecutive Turkey Day games?  Miami, meanwhile, rolls into Thanksgiving Day riding a four-game spread winning streak and the Dolphins have covered their last three non-AFC East games after starting off the year at 0-4 versus the vig when going outside divisional play.

SAN FRANCISCO (9-1) at BALTIMORE (7-3) - 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network
The Brothers Harbaugh are getting all the attention here - and why not - "cause this is an historic moment in time in the NFL with two head-coaching brothers facing one another for the first time ever but wonder who the rest of the family is rooting for here?

Younger brother Jim and his San Francisco 49ers are merely the rage of the league this season even if the style of play they feature is on the meat-and-potatoes side - it's the no-frills approach for the NFC West gang that's already won all four of its games played in the Eastern time zone this year (at Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Detroit and Washington).

Big brother John, meanwhile, guides his own Super Bowl contender but getting a real read on these Ravens has been tough - a clean season series sweep against archrival Pittsburgh but yet slumbering setbacks against the likes of Tennessee, Jacksonville and Seattle.

Oh, brother, is right!

The game plan - as we alluded to - never really changes for these 2011 Niners as RB Frank Gore and Company would love to rush the ball 40-or-more times and so it may be highly important as to whether or not Baltimore LB Ray Lewis (toe) plays here. Note that Lewis missed last Sunday's 31-24 win against 6 ½-point dog Cincinnati.

 Meanwhile, the game plan for Baltimore likely includes a few downfield shots by QB Joe Flacco to rookie WR Torrey Smith but the Ravens actually may steal a page from the San Fran playbook and make sure RB Ray Rice gets 25-or-more totes here - we can't wait for those collisions with 49ers LB Patrick Willis who should be mounting his own case as the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year.

What is an X-factor in this brotherly love affair?

Check out San Francisco PK David Akers - who attempted six FGs in the first half of last Sunday's 23-7 win/cover against 10-point pup Arizona - and whether or not he can nail his 45-yard-or-longer kicks here. It could mean the difference between a fifth consecutive road win or not for the Niners.

Spread Notes - San Francisco is 9-0-1 against the Las Vegas prices this season and among the spread conquests are outright underdog winners against Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Detroit. Note that the Niners are 9-4-3 ATS as dogs since the start of 2009 and SF's 6-3-1 spreadwise in its last 10 tilts versus AFC teams. Baltimore is 18-11 ATS overall at home since the start of the 2008 season and that includes this year's hearty 4-1 spread mark that features covers against Pittsburgh, the NY Jets and Cincinnati.



#25 TEXAS (6-4, 3-4 Big 12) at TEXAS A&M (6-5, 4-4 Big 12) - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Sad to see this rivalry get put on ice following this game - here's hoping Texas versus Texas A&M gets renewed somewhere down the line but A&M's move to the SEC next year will scuttle this series for the time being - and now we'll see who gets to win their seventh game of the year in what's turned out to be a disappointing campaign for both Lone Star State squads.

Guess Texas needs to go back to the drawing board at quarterback as freshman David Ash (3 TDs and 8 INTs) hasn't been the short-term answer while the Aggies - who rank 10th nationally in points scored (40.9 ppg) - simply have not learned to hold big second-half leads. Will that cost fourth-year boss Mike Sherman his job? There's some talk he needs to win here against the "Horns or else could walk the gang plank!

Spread Notes - First off, road teams have covered seven of the last 10 games in this rivalry and that includes last year when Texas A&M (- 3 ½) snagged a 24-17 win at Texas. Overall, the A&M Aggies are a money-burning 3-8 against the odds this year while the UT Longhorns are 13-22-1 spreadwise in all on-the-board games since the start of thee 2009 campaign.




By Jim Hurley:

The holiday beat goes on ... Jim Hurley's Annual Turkey Shoot is banging out more big-time winners (just like those pilgrims once did!) and so a quick reminder here and than it's onto College Football's Top Friday Previews:

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will be winning big-time in with all the College Football NFL Week 12, and Basketball action all holiday week/weekend long. Ladies and gents, it's the start of The Annual Jim Hurley Thanksgiving Turkey Shoot - that's Five (5) full days/nights of winning action - beginning here and going right through Monday Night Football (that's the New York Giants at the New Orleans Saints). Remember that you can have it all when checking with us at the toll-free # of 1-800-323-4453 or else go online right here online for all the gridiron winners. It's only $100 for the whole Turkey Shoot ... so what are you waiting for?



Note: The rankings below reflect the current BCS Standings:

#3 ARKANSAS (10-1, 6-1 SEC) at #1 LSU (11-0, 7-0 SEC) - 2:30 p.m. ET, CBS
The weekend's marquee matchup is dripping with BCS implications - please don't ask what happens if 12-point underdog Arkansas pulls a shocker here 'cause even the SEC head honchos don't have a real-live answer! - and all the LSU kids know is this: They have beaten everyone on their schedule including an OT win at Alabama and a "neutral field" win against Oregon and have bested 10 of its 11 foes by double-digit margins and take note the Tigers have allowed 11 points or less in nine of their 11 games ... wow is right!

No doubt this Arkansas team is a different type of animal as the Razorbacks have exceeded the 40-point mark six times this year including in each of their last three games - and QB Tyler Wilson (3,215 yards passing with 21 TDs and 5 INTs) might well be the most accomplished passer that Les Miles' crew will face all year long. Look for LSU's dynamic CB Tyrann Mathieu (among others) to try and get Wilson to pull the trigger prematurely at times here as he has been prone to making some panic passes, especially in the red zone.

On the flip side, LSU's offense won't win any "style points" but that ground game is perking up with four different running backs capable of big games and it appears that Miles & Company are granting more freedom to born-again QB Jordan Jefferson who needs to stretch the field early with a couple of deep balls so as to soften up the Hogs' defense for up-the-middle runs - we say Jefferson will either run or pass it 30+ times in all and so much of LSU's national title hopes rest back on a guy who wasn't even a prime figure on this team till that 9-6 win at 'Bama.

Biggest part of this game?

First down plays - LSU must bite off 5 and 6 yards on first down to get the Hogs on their heels while Wilson and mates have to mix things up on first down plays against this LSU defense and be aware of some Arkansas "trickerration" here.

Spread Notes - LSU has covered five of its last six games this year but the Bayou Bengals are an ugly 0-4 ATS (against the spread) against Arkansas since 2007. Did you know that LSU, however, is a tasty 6-1 versus the vig against SEC foes this season? Meanwhile, Arkansas enters this post-Thanksgiving Day tilt on a three-game spread winning streak (versus South Carolina, Tennessee and Miss State) and the Razorbacks are 13-6 spreadwise as dogs dating back to late in the 2008 season.
#8 HOUSTON (11-0, 7-0 C-USA) at TULSA (8-3, 7-0) - 12 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Network
Here's what you may not know about the here-and-now Houston Cougars: This is their highest ranking in more than 21 years and an unbeaten season would put 'em in no worse than a Fiesta Bowl or Sugar Bowl setting come the winter holidays ... not bad, eh?

No doubt QB Case Keenum is the numero uno star here (see stats below in our Jim Sez Heisman Trophy Watch List) and just last week he added to his many personal records by becoming the NCAA's all-time pass completions leader (1,427) and now he looks to attack a Tulsa team that currently shares first place with the Coogs in the Conference USA West Division.

Keenum may be the front-and-center guy here but keep an eye on Tulsa slinger G.J. Kinne who only seems as if he's been a Golden Hurricane star for 10 years - note that Kinne (2,700 yards passing with 24 TDs and 10 INTs) ranks second to Keenum in C-USA in terms of QB rating (186.9-to-154.7).

A spot in next week's C-USA Championship Game is on the line - and so much more is on the line for Kevin Sumlin's Coogs.

Spread Notes - Talk about being red-hot ... The Houston Coogs have covered their last six consecutive games and overall they're 9-2 ATS this season after having gone 3-7-1 against the odds a year ago. Tulsa has its own little spread streak going too as the Golden Hurricane has notched five consecutive ATS wins including an outright upset against 2-point fav Central Florida back on Nov. 3rd.

PITTSBURGH (5-5, 3-2 Big East) at WEST VIRGINIA (7-3, 3-2 Big East) - 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
The latest version of the famed "Backyard Brawl" will have lots of raw emotion - after all, the Pittsburgh kids are still haunted by last year's 35-10 home loss (as 3-point betting favorites, no less) - and remember this is all new stuff for Pitt first-year head coach Todd Graham and West Virginia's rookie boss-man Dana Holgorsen although these gents know each other from their days at Tulsa and Oklahoma State, respectively.

Key here for the home favored Mountaineers is QB Geno Smith (3,497 yards passing with 24 TDs and 5 INTs) can't self-implode in the red zone as has been an issue over the year while the Panthers need WRs Devin Street and Mike Shanahan (they've combined for 69 catches and 6 TDs this year) to shake loose from some oft-wobbly WVU defensive backs.

Spread Notes - West Virginia's covered six of its last nine head-to-head showdowns with archrival Pittsburgh and the Mountaineers are a solid 11-7-1 spreadwise in all Big East action the past two-plus seasons. Note that Pittsburgh enters this clash on a three-game spread winning streak and the Panthers are 17-9-2 ATS away since the start of the 2007 campaign.


#1 - ANDREW LUCK, QB, STANFORD - Most of the so-called experts dropped this junior slinger from his top perch as Heisman frontrunner, but not us! Last week Luck threw for 257 yards and two TDs in the 31-28 non-cover win against 17-point underdog California and his season-long numbers - while maybe not eye-popping in nature - are splendid with 2,937 yards passing with 31 TDs and 8 INTs. If Luck shines Saturday night against Notre Dame, he'll have a more firm hold on the bronze statue ... trust us!

#2 - CASE KEENUM, QB, HOUSTON - Hey, if it's merely numbers that's gonna make the man for the Heisman than you'd have to hand the award to this sixth-year star who has thrown for 4,269 yards passing with 38 TDs and 3 INTs. Keenum must beat Tulsa and have a solid stat day to stay in the hunt but be sure this kid's getting at least an invitation to the New York City ceremony next month.

#3 - ROBERT GRIFFIN, QB, BAYLOR - Lots of folks have put "RG3" back in the lead for this year's trophy but are they forgetting those bad showings in back-to-back losses to Texas A&M and Oklahoma State? True, Griffin's regained his footing in the Heisman race as last week he threw for 479 yards and 4 TDs in that stirring 45-38 last-second win against 17-point fav Oklahoma. The up-to-date stats include 3,572 yards passing with 33 TDs and 5 INTs and don't forget his 550 rushing yards.

#4 TRENT RICHARDSON, RB, ALABAMA -This 'Bama back has been somewhere in our Heisman Top 5 all year long and still could make a case should he bust loose this Saturday against archrival Auburn. Note that the junior RB has 1,380 yards rushing (a 5.8 ypc average) along with 20 TDs and his 26 receptions have equaled another 322 yards (that's a 29.3 ypc average).

#5 - MONTEE BALL, RB, WISCONSIN - Welcome to the show, Mr. Ball! The Badgers' junior star has catapulted into our Heisman Watch List thanks to last weekend's 38-carry, 224-yard, 2-TD game and so now Ball enters this Saturday's home game against Penn State with 1,466 yards rushing and 25 ground scores along with another 5 TDs as a pass-catcher.


Don't forget the College Basketball action amidst all this great Thanksgiving Week football - there's a nice little tournament going on this week in Orlando - the Old Spice Classic - and it includes first-round matchups on Thursday between Texas Tech-Indiana State, Minnesota-DePaul, Dayton-Wake Forest and Arizona State-Fairfield (it concludes with the Championship Game on Sunday night).

Keep an eye out on the Dayton Flyers (2-1) who are on espn2 in a 7 p.m. Thanksgiving Night game against the WF Demon Deacons. Note that Dayton just held UNC-Wilmington to 34.5 percent shooting from the floor in a 74-49 win/cover as 13-point home favorites last Saturday and players-to-watch here for the Flyers include Chris Johnson and Kevin Dillard who combined for 37 points against UNCW.

NOTE: Get our College Football Saturday Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez.


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