Thanksgiving Day Football Previews
HAPPY HOLIDAY WEEKEND!!!
IT'S A THANKSGIVING DAY/NIGHT FILLED WITH ABSOLUTE PIGSKIN DELIGHTS -AND WE PREVIEW THE NFL WEEK 12 THURSDAY TILTS
PLUS GET YOU THE UP-TO-THE-MINUTE NFL SPREAD STANDINGS AND THE COLLEGE KIDS GET IT ON TOO AS TCU vs. TEXAS SQUARES OFF IN AUSTIN
By Jim Hurley:
And a Happy Thanksgiving Day to one and all as we celebrate one of America's great traditions ... and we don't mean dozing off after your turkey dinner!
Hey, it turns out that this is also a great football day with three NFL Week 12 tilts -all of 'em dripping with playoff implications -and so let's not waste another moment. Pass the pumpkin pie and let's dig in ...
Now, here's the NFL Week 12 Thanksgiving Day/Nite menu...
HOUSTON (9-1) at DETROIT (4-6) -12:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Don't look now but if the season ended today the Houston Texans -who've won one playoff game in their lives -would enjoy home-field advantage right throughout the AFC post-season.
Not bad for a team that has proven it can win the low-scoring games this year (see rainy/ugly 13-6 win in Chicago two weeks ago) and the high-scoring shootouts too (see last Sunday's wild 43-37 overtime win against Jacksonville) and now we can say for certain that turn-back-the-clock WR Andre Johnson -who caught 14 balls worth 273 yards including the OT-winning 48-yarder last week -probably needs to be double-teamed again and we haven't really suggested that for the past three or four years.
If Johnson cuts it loose here against a Lions secondary that's never been in one piece this season, than Detroit's going-going-almost-gone playoff hopes will be extinguished even before Detroit's players sit down for their first serving of mashed potatoes!
Game plan for Detroit here:
Look to hit the instant "home run" against a Texans defense that gave up a slew of chunk plays last week against the Jaguars -and do keep in mind the Lions rank 1st in the NFL in passing offense (307.3 yards per game) and WR Calvin Johnson (five catches for 143 yards including a 25-yard score last week in that painful 24-20 home loss against Green Bay) can be a proverbial one-man wrecking crew if given enough openings. Just get 'em the ball already, Matthew Stafford!
P.S., the Lions don't exactly have a rich recent Turkey Day history (see our Spread Notes below).
Spread Notes -Detroit is 4-6 ATS (against the spread) this year and the Lions come into this holiday tilt off back-to-back spread setbacks versus divisional rivals Minnesota and Green Bay. Overall, the Motowners have failed to win or cover any of their last eight traditional Thanksgiving Day games and note Detroit is 33-37-2 SU (straight-up) all-time on this special holiday. On the flip side, Houston will be playing in its first-ever Thanksgiving Day game -only 1995 expansion teams Carolina and Jacksonville have never played on this holiday before -and the Texans enter this clash at 7-3 ATS this year and that includes three covers in four road tries (covers at Jacksonville, Denver and Chicago and a spread loss at the New York Jets).
WASHINGTON (4-6) at DALLAS (5-5) -4:15 p.m. ET, Fox
Here's something you might not have known about "America's Team": The Dallas Cowboys can secure their first three-game winning streak since last year when a 27-24 win at Washington in Week 11 gave that 'Boys bunch a third consecutive SU win en route to a 2011-best four-game winning streak but here QB Tony Romo and mates must fare better in the red zone where Dallas scored just two TDs in five trips in last weekend's 23-20 overtime non-cover win against Cleveland plus the ground game's gotta wake up too ... or else!
Last week's numbers included 21 carries for 63 yards and sure looks like RB Felix Jones (14 totes for 43 yards against the Brownies) doesn't want to take those tough between-the-tackle hits -or are we imagining things?
On the flip side, Washington -fresh off its biggest margin-of-victory win this year with a 31-6 triumph over Philadelphia -can't reasonably expect QB Robert Griffin III to complete another 14-of-15 passes for 200 yards but it'll sure help matters if the Redskins don't commit a single turnover as was the case last weekend plus the 84 yards rushing last Sunday by "RG3" should scare the Cowboys and DC Rob Ryan who handled Carolina's dual-threat QB Cam Newton a few weeks back but now must not let Griffin beat 'em with chain-moving key third-down runs here.
From the strange-but-true department: The 'Skins have won just two NFC East road games since early in the 2008 season.
Spread Notes -Dallas is 4-6 against the odds so far this 2012 season and the Cowboys have failed to cover 11 of their last 14 head-to-head matchups against the rival Redskins while dating back to 2005. Note that the 'Boys are a cumulative 28-15-1 SU in its long Thanksgiving Day history. Meanwhile, Washington is 1-6 SU in its history on Thanksgiving Day and the 'Skins enter this NFC East showdown with a dead-even and vig-losing 5-5 spread mark on the year and that includes road covers at New Orleans, at Tampa Bay and at the NY Giants.
NEW ENGLAND (7-3) at NEW YORK JETS (4-6) -8:25 p.m. ET, NBC
This under-the-lights special at MetLife Stadium has more than a few storylines: Naturally, the one that's been getting all the "pub" this week has been the fact that the visiting/favored NE Patriots will be without TE Rob Gronkowski for the next five or six weeks after he broke his forearm on a meaningless PAT late in last Sunday's 59-24 romp over Indianapolis. The heat's been on Pats head coach Bill Belichick for even having "Gronk" out there for that extra-point but gut feeling is the injury could galvanize a team that's scored 30-or-more points on seven different occasions and did you know the Pats are 6-1 against the spread in these seven games?
If New England QB Tom Brady -who threw for 331 yards and three TDs against the Colts last weekend -needs to target a "new" favorite receiver, than check out returning TE Aaron Hernandez whose season-stats are rather modest (just 17 receptions and two TDs) thanks to various ailments but remember the Jets' defense really has major problems handling athletic tight ends and so Gronkowski's injury could turn into a boon for sidekick Hernandez here.
The Jets last weekend won their first game in some 35 calendar days -the 27-13 victory against St. Louis was a solid showing that included no turnovers by QB Mark Sanchez who completed 15-of-20 passes -but unless the troubled NYJ special teams gets a wake-up call and Sanchez steers clear of the red-zone picks here, the Patriots still have good reason to believe they'll get the clean sweep of their rivals here.
Spread Notes -New England's 6-4 versus the vig overall this season and that includes the 29-26 non-cover overtime win against the 11-point underdog J-E-T-S back in Week 7 play. Note the Patriots have notched spread wins in eight of their last 10 games at the NY Jets. On the other hand, the Jets enter this game at 5-4-1 spreadwise this season and they have split their six spread verdicts when placed in the underdog role. Go back to the start of the Rex Ryan Era in 2009 and the Jets are a collective 15-13 ATS as pups.
NFL POINTSPREAD STANDINGS (thru Week 11)
While the politicians promise...Jim Hurley delivers...
ANNUAL THANKSGIVING TURKEY SHOOT!
THANKSGIVING DAY (The Turkey)
- Redskins at Cowboys. (FOX 4:15 P ET) Incredibly, the Skins are on course to give up 5,255 passing yards this year - an all-time NFL record! Can Romo take advantage? Does RGIII have enough talent/weapons to counter all that? Get my answer!
- Texans at Lions. (CBS 12:30 P ET).... Lions rushing defense not good. Texans rushing offense best in NFL. Yecch! But remember: we're betting a number, not a team.
- Also looking at Patriots at Jets (NBC 8:20 pm ET) and TCU at Texas. (ESPN 7:30 pm)
- If the numbers are good, I'll give you all four games. If not, I'll certainly have three good plays for you. And that's only the Turkey!
FRIDAY FEAST (The Stuffing)
FINALE FRIDAY is looking at season enders: LSU at Arkansas, Nebraska at Iowa,
South Florida at Cincinnati, Washington at Washington State,
Arizona State at Arizona and more.
TRADITIONAL RIVALRY TRIPLE (The Gravy)|
For most teams this is their Farewell Game Of The Year. Their parting shot at their most hated rival. Their last chance at redemption. Here are just some of the great games going and I will give you my three strongest!
Notre Dame at USC, Michigan at Ohio State, Florida at Florida State
South Carolina at Clemson, Oregon at Oregon State, and Auburn at Alabama
HOT FUDGE SUNDAY. ( A Feast Of Extra Points)
Get my best of Steelers at Browns, Falcons at Buccaneers, 49ers at Saints.
Plus Sunday Night with Packers at Giants! Dessert was never so nourishing!
MINCE PIE MONDAY (Panthers at Eagles)
The two most troubled clubs in the NFL and two of the most talented QB's. But will Vick even play, or is it the rookie's show now? Somebody's gotta cover and I know who!
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THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT - THE THANKSGIVING NITE TV PREVIEW
TCU (6-4) at #16 TEXAS (8-2) -7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
These one-time rivals have not bucked heads since 2007 -a 34-13 win by 8-point home fav Texas early in that season -and so we'll see how much "bad blood" exists here for this nationally-televised tilt from the stat's capital:
One thing for sure is that the Texas Longhorns are on a roll as they zoom into this one on a four-game SU winning streak that includes a dominant 33-7 win against Iowa State back on Nov. 10th. Expect Texas QB David Ash (2,354 yards passing with 17 TDs and 5 INTs) -who has lots of ammo on his side these days -to come out chuckin' it against a TCU pass defense that ranks only 49th nationally while allowing 228 yards per game.
No doubt Gary Patterson's stop unit ain't what it used to be in recent years although the Horned Frogs do rank seventh in the country against the rush (98.4 ypg).
TCU's debut season in the Big 12 has not been anything to write home about save for that wild 39-38 double-OT win at West Virginia a couple of weeks back but the 8-point dogs could get a true "signature win" here but it only happens if Ash spits up the ball three or four times and/or TCU wide receiver Josh Boyce (56 catches and 7 TDs) exploits a Texas secondary that does like to gamble.
Spread Notes -Texas is 5-5 against the odds this year and that includes a tepid 2-3 spread log in the role of home betting favorite (with the covers coming against New Mexico and Iowa State) and note the Longhorns are a decent 6-4 spreadwise in their last 10 home finales. Meanwhile, TCU is 4-6 versus the vig this season and the Horned Frogs are just 10-15 spreadwise in their last 25 on-the-board tilts.
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT
THE DAY-AFTER-THANKSGIVING KEY TV PREVIEWS ...PLUS OUR QUICK-HITTER HEISMAN TROPHY UPDATE TOO!
By Jim Hurley:
Gobble, gobble! The Thanksgiving Weekend rolls on with a batch of goodies on the gridiron and here we'll get you Friday's Key College TV tilts, so let's get it going ... note the numbers that precede team names below reflect the current BCS Standings
#14 NEBRASKA (9-2, 6-1 Big 10) at IOWA (4-7, 2-5 Big 10) -12 p.m. ET, ABC
Let's see if the born-again Nebraska Cornhuskers can wrap up a berth in next month's Big 10 Championship Game as Bo Pelini's crew rolls into this one on a four-game SU (straight-up) and four-game ATS (against the spread) winning streak and QB Taylor Martinez is -some say, finally -in a groove.
Martinez threw for 308 yards and two TDs in last weekend's 38-14 win/cover against overmatched Minnesota and now he faces a slumping Iowa squad that's dropped its last five games in a row while yielding nearly 483 yards a game during this swoon. Folks say Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz -who's actually signed to a contract till the year 2020 -is "safe" but if red-hot Big Red covers this rather bloated 14 ½-point price than they may take inventory again.
Spread Note -Nebraska has covered just one-of-four road games this year (see 28-24 triumph at one-point fav Michigan State back on Nov. 3rd).
#7 LSU (9-2, 5-2 SEC) at ARKANSAS (4-7, 2-5 SEC) -2:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Hey, forget all that talk about LSU getting back into the SEC Championship Game -do you really think Alabama is gonna lose to 31 ½-point underdog Auburn on Saturday in Tuscaloosa? -and so instead concentrate here on the fact the Bayou Bengals could position themselves in another marquee January bowl game with a win and one area of concern here is the LSU pass defense that surrendered 316 yards in last week's hairy 41-35 non-cover win against 19-point dog Ole Miss.
If not for that 89-yard fourth-quarter punt return for a score by LSU's Odell Beckham, than Les Miles' club might have that glazed-over look in their eyes here.
No doubt Arkansas' 2012 season was shot to heck right away with four September losses but here QB Tyler Wilson -who needs just 88 yards to become the school's all-time leading passer -must get the ball out quickly as he's been sacked 10 times in the last four games and he must not challenge the athletic LSU corners too often. Got it, kid?
Spread Note -LSU is just 4-6 versus the vig as betting favorites this year after having compiled a nifty 8-2 ATS mark as the chalk a year ago.
ARIZONA STATE (6-5, 4-4 Pac-12) at #24 ARIZONA (7-4, 4-4 Pac-12) -10 p.m. ET, ESPN
Maybe first-year bosses Todd Graham (Arizona State) and Rich Rodriguez (Arizona) are new to this Cactus State rivalry game but they sure know the bad blood that exists and it only gets a bit juicier now that the U of A Wildcats have entered the BCS Top 25 ... yes, we were a bit surprised by that too!
Arizona has won four of its last five games this year while averaging better than 45 points a game during the "W's" and here the country's 15th-best ground game will look to unleash RB Ka'Deem Carey (1,585 yards rushing and averaging a haughty 144.1 yards-per-game with 19 TDs) against an Arizona State defense that surrenders a whopping 161 yards a game via the ground route.
On the flip side, Arizona State's QB Taylor Kelly (25 TDs and 9 INTs) can get on hot streaks and take note he completed 20-of-23 passes for 246 yards with 4 TDs and 0 INTs last week in that rollicking 46-7 win against Washington State.
First team to 40 points wins?
Spread Note -Arizona and Arizona State have split their last 10 pointspread verdicts but note the U of A Wildcats are just 7-11 ATS at home the past two-plus seasons while the ASU Sun Devils are a dismal 0-4 vig-wise as underdog sides this season.
Two quality teams with a big future duke it out for respect, bragging rights and a shot at a major bowl. My info gets you the winner and the money!
COLLEGE FOOTBALL SLEEPER TEAMS THAT GET THE MONEY
A number of low profile teams that didn't use to be important surprised everybody this year and got themselves into the Top 30, changing the character of late season play and the Bowl picture itself. These "New Kids on the block" are pretty good, too. Teams like Kent State, Utah State La. Tech, San Jose State, San Diego State, Vanderbilt Arkansas State and more. Betting-wise, these are "sleeper" teams undervalued by the not-yet-alert public. Pick your spots and it's found money! Just $50, Click Here.
THE HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH LIST
It's truly getting down to nitty-gritty time for this year's Heisman Trophy race. Here's how we see the top five candidates heading into this holiday weekend:
COLLIN KLEIN, QB, KANSAS STATE -Sorry, but we're not knocking off this do-it-all player from atop the Heisman Trophy perch even though his previously unbeaten K-State Wildcats were whipsawed 52-24 last weekend by 12-point home pup Baylor.
Klein and Company are idle this weekend before a season finale home game against Texas on Dec. 1st and the 6-foot-5, 225-pounder will enter that Big 12 game with 2,306 yards passing, 14 TDs and 6 INTs to go along with his 787 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns.
Hey, a bad game -and a loss -in that one could sink Klein in his Heisman race. Stay tuned
MANTI TE'O, LB, NOTRE DAME -The top player on the top team in the land stays put at #2 in our Jim Sez Heisman Trophy race one week after he helped blank Wake Forest 38-0 in a "statement game" for the ND Fighting Irish.
Te'o now heads into Saturday's monster game at USC with 98 total tackles (half of 'em are solo stops) to go along with 6 interceptions and a pair of fumble recovers.
Folks, those are just stats as anyone who's watched this Notre Dame team knows Te'o has been the heart-and-soul leader of this somewhat no-name team and if he has a monster game against the Men of Troy this weekend, he could be our numero uno
JOHNNY MANZIEL, QB, TEXAS A&M -It's been a pretty popular notion to put "Johnny Football" on top of the here-and-now Heisman Trophy lists but we say hold on for a moment:
It's true that Manziel's freshman stats are incredible with 3,047 passing yards with 21 TDs and 7 INTs along with a stellar 67.7 completion rate (that's 241 completions in some 356 attempts) and he did take the starring role in that shockeroo win at Alabama back on Nov. 10th but consider that the A&M Aggies have lost to Florida and LSU and only scored a grand total of 36 points in those affairs -what, Manziel gets a "pass" for those showings?
Third place is where this 6-foot-1, 200-pound energetic bunny belongs though he could get another boost to his late-blooming campaign with a big tilt this Saturday against rag-tag Missouri.
MARQISE LEE, WR, USC -There's some national sentiment to leave this speedy soph off the Heisman Trophy Watch Lists simply based on the fact preseason #1 USC has been such a bust with four losses heading into the aforementioned game this Saturday night against Notre Dame but how does one ignore the fact Lee has 107 catches for 1,605 yards (a 15.0 yards-per-catch average) with 14 TDs?
BRAXTON MILLER, QB, OHIO STATE -The Buckeyes may not be eligible for the Big 10 title or for a post-season bowl game this year but this spiffy sophomore remains eligible to appear in NYC for next month's Heisman Trophy ceremony and he'll get an invite providing he doesn't flop in Saturday's key tilt against archrival Michigan. So far, Miller's numbers include 1,850 yards passing with 14 TDs and just 6 INTs along with 1,214 yards rushing (a dazzling 5.9 ypc average) and 13 ground scores and it sure helps his cause that the 11-and-oh 'Eyes are one of only two FBS unbeatens at this moment.
Finally, we just presented you with the NFL Pointspread Standings in yesterday's Jim Sez column -and how about the following pointspread marks for these handful-plus of College Football teams?
- Ball State is 9-2 against the odds this year entering Friday's game against Miami-Ohio;
- Clemson is 8-3 against the juice going into its game against South Carolina;
- Florida Atlantic is also 8-3 ATS while going into its Dec. 1st home game against UL-Lafayette;
- Fresno State is 10-1 spreadwise so far while going into Saturday's home game against Air Force;
- Kansas State's 9-2 against the vig so far this 2012 campaign;
- Ditto for Kent State who hosts Ohio on Friday;
- Miami is an electric 8-3 spreadwise going into Saturday's game at Duke;
- Northern Illinois is 8-3 ATS going into Friday's game at Eastern Michigan;
- Northwestern is a rollicking 10-1 spreadwise this season with the rivalry game against Illinois on deck Saturday;
- Ole Miss is a rather surprising 8-3 ATS going into its Egg Bowl game against Miss State;
- Penn State -believe it or not -is 8-3 against the Las Vegas prices this year;
- San Jose State has piled up a 9-2 spread mark while heading into Saturday's game against Louisiana Tech;
- Utah State is 11-0 ATS and shoots for a perfect spread regular season with Saturday's home game against 39-point underdog Idaho;
- And, lastly, Western Kentucky is 8-3 against the odds this year with a home game against North Texas on tap Saturday
NOTE: Catch our College Football Saturday Key Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez and stay tuned also for our NFL Week 12 Sunday Game Previews!
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