RG3's Performance + Thursday Night Preview and College Notebook

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Jim Sez




By Jim Hurley

Nothing like a Week 1 loss to get NFL teams and their fans in a panic mode, right?

Well, gotta say that there were a few Week 1 losses that should be labeled “disturbing”, such as Pittsburgh’s woeful 16-9 setback at home against Tennessee and Cincinnati’s 24-21 loss in Chicago – hey, Bengals, if you’re gonna be considered legit Super Bowl material this season than you can’t blow that game by allowing 80- and 81-yard second-half touchdown drives that cost you a “W”!

Then there was that game in San Francisco:

The 49ers’ win – a 34-28 tug-of-war job win against game Green Bay – is still getting attention for that gaffe by referee Bill Leavy, who allowed the home team an extra down (that turned into yet another Niners’ TD) in the second quarter following a sideline scrum started by brain-cramped Packers’ LB Clay Matthews.

However, what may be even more disturbing to us here at Jim Sez is that – apparently – Packers’ head coach Mike McCarthy was unaware of the foul-up by the officials because the way he answered questions in the post-game press conference it sure seemed he wasn’t initially aware of the problem.

Way to have you head in the game, coach!

True, the Leavy mistake “cost” Green Bay four points there, and may well have changed the entire game, but for anyone in Packers Nation who wishes to continue their sobbing remember this:

After the QB Colin Kaepernick-to-WR Anquan Boldin 10-yard scoring play on what should have been fourth down, the Niners still scored 20 second-half points while the Packers were busy surrendering an 80-yard TD march; a 71-yard drive that led to a PK Phil Dawson field goal; another 80-yard touchdown drive; and an 11-play, 50-yard drive capped by Dawson’s 33-yard FG with just 30 seconds remaining in the game. In other words, Green Bay defense, you had plenty of opportunities to change the tide of this one and you didn’t get the“mission accomplished”.

Hey, we’ll get into the NFL Week 2 Thursday Nite Preview – that’s the New York Jets at the New England Patriots – in just a second here, but finally a word or two on the much-anticipated “return” of Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III.

No doubt – and as we had forecast here in an earlier Jim Sez column – RG3 had lots of rust to shake off following his major knee surgery eight months ago and not having played a single down in the preseason. Maybe the Redskins’ 33-27 loss to the 3 ½-point underdog Philadelphia Eagles this past Monday Night all can’t land at Griffin’s feet, but the stats said it all, and that’s Griffin wound up throwing for 329 yards... but 169 of ‘em came in the final quarter when the D.C. gang put on its major charge.

Griffin – who was tentative for much of the first half (a word ESPN analyst Jon Gruden used more than once!) – finished with just five carries for 24 yards while throwing a pair of picks, and so while his health progresses, the lesson learned in Week 1 is that dare we say RG3 may have been right in trying to get some summertime game snaps while head coach Mike Shanahan watched out for his quarterback’s overall health and well-being.

In any event, you wonder if that Week 1 loss will now cost the ‘Skins an NFC East title or a wild card berth – it’s all something to chew on the deeper we get into this 2013 campaign.

And now hear this …

My handicappers/bloggers will continue to pound Las Vegas with our NFL Week 2 Sides & Totals plays beginning with Thursday’s Jets- at Patriots matchup on the NFL Network – plus make sure you’re all aboard for all the NFL and NCAA Football action when you check with the Jim Hurley Network right here online at www.jimhurley.com or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 after 1 p.m. ET on week days and after 10 a.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday.

Remember there’s a monster weekend on tap when it comes to College Football – it’s not all just Alabama at Texas A&M, you know! – as we’re already eyeballing the big showdowns between UCLA at Nebraska, Tennessee at Oregon and Wisconsin at Arizona State – so get it started with the college kids on Thursday night with Three (3) on-the-board games coming your way before the monster-sized Saturday arrives, and stay with us for a great/profitable 2013 Football Season!

Plus get all our down-the-stretch Major-League Baseball winners, too!


NEW YORK JETS (1-0) at NEW ENGLAND (1-0) – 8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network

The good folks in Las Vegas popped up an opening line of Patriots minus 10 points here, and faster than you can say "Tom Brady", the price rose to 12 ½ points.

Bottom line … the Jets may have come back for a thrilling 18-17 win against the Tampa Bay Bucs last Sunday at MetLife Stadium, but they don’t have a whole lot of “believers” in their corner right now when it comes to the wagering world.

Note that the Jets’ ground game was silent in the win against Tampa Bay – 29 carries for 90 yards (a 3.1 yards-per-rush average) -- ain’t gonna cut it here and rookie QB Geno Smith has to make better decisions after losing a fumble when he didn’t feel the pass rush heat near his own goal line and lofting an amateurish-looking pass that was picked off for his lone interception in Week 1.

On the flip side, New England was far from a well-oiled machine in that 23-21 non-cover win at 10-point dog Buffalo – did you happen to notice the Pats scored just two touchdowns on five trips into the red zone and aforementioned QB Brady (29-of-52 passing for 288 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT) simply lacked great chemistry with some of his new pass-catchers as WR Kenbrell Thompkins had four catches worth 42 yards... but was targeted some 14 times … hmm.

Let’s see if Brady – who completed throws to only five players – can spread the wealth a bit better here against a Jets’ defensive front that accounted for three sacks of T-Bay QB Josh Freeman.

The short week plus (albeit minimal) travel is a major negative for Rex Ryan’s crew:

The only way NYJ covers this hefty price tag is running the ball 35-or-more times and keeping Brady off the field. Got it?

Spread Notes – New England is 14-8 ATS (against the spread) overall in head-to-head matchups with the NY Jets the past 10 years, and note that includes a spread split in a pair of playoff games. The Pats have been no great shakes as betting favorites in recent years as N’England is a collective 32-31-1 spreadwise as chalk-eaters since the very start of the 2009 campaign. On the flip side, the Jets are 16-15 versus the vig overall as underdogs in the Ryan Era that started in ’09, and Gang Green has covered its first AFC East game of a season four times in the last five years including that 48-28 triumph over 3-point pup Buffalo last September.


It’s safe to say that Saturday’s SEC showdown between #1 Alabama at #6 Texas A&M will be the single most-hyped College Football game this year (till we get to either LSU at Alabama in November or the BCS Championship Game itself) and, heck, the drum beat was being heard back in the summer months with all the Johnny Manziel shenanigans going on but a funny thing has happened on the way to this weekend’s game in College Station:

The Page 6 stuff involving “Johnny Football” has all but come to a screeching halt, and it sure seems like it’s all gonna be about the game here … thanks goodness for small miracles!

The two-time defending champion Alabama Crimson Tide’s a 7 ½-point betting favorite at the moment – maybe a tad “taller” than we would have suspected – but just remember for all of Manziel’s heroics last year the Aggies still failed to cover two of their three games when placed in the dog role. Here they are (Home Teams are in CAPS):

9-8-12 Florida - 1.5 TEXAS A&M 20-17
10-20-12 LSU - 3.5 TEXAS A&M 24-19
11-10-12 Texas A&M + 13.5 ALABAMA 29-24

Lots more on ‘Bama vs. Texas A&M all this week right here in Jim Sez.

On Thursday, it’s …

#24 TCU (1-1) at TEXAS TECH (2-0) – 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Believe it or not, these one-time Southwest Conference rivals have met just once since 2006 – and who can forgot Texas Tech’s 56-53 triple-OT win in Fort Worth back on Oct. 20th? – but now they get the prime-time, under-the-lights treatment on national TV, and it could be a case where the first team to 40 wins … we’re not kidding!

Okay, so the TCU Horned Frogs – a 3 ½-point fav at the moment – will be without QB Casey Pachall for the next two months after he suffered a fractured forearm in his left (non-throwing) arm in last weekend’s 38-17 win against SE Louisiana, but keep in mind Trevone Boykin (who started much of last year when Pachall sought help for a chemical substance problem) will step into the void, so don’t think for a minute that head coach Gary Patterson and staff will trim back the playbook here.

On the flip side, Texas Tech first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury has witnessed his Red Raiders club put up 41 and 61 points in season-starting wins against SMU and Stephen F. Austin, and all eyes here will be on walk-on QB Baker Mayfield, who has yet to throw a pick and has completed 71 percent of his passes (that’s 64 completions in 90 attempts) with 7 TD tosses.

Hold on … maybe it’s the first team to 50 that’ll win this one!

Spread Notes – Now that TCU has staggered out of the 2013 starting gate with back-to-back pointspread setbacks, the Horned Frogs are 9-17 ATS overall since the start of the 2011 season. Meanwhile, Texas Tech’s 2-0 ATS so far this year with covers against SMU and Stephen F. Austin but did you know the Red Raiders are a wobbly 10-17 ATS in conference games since late in the ’09 season?

NOTE: Lots more NFL and NCAA Football News/Notes the rest of this week right here in Jim Sez.


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