Football Weekend Preview
EXTRA, EXTRA –ANOTHER FOOTBALL-FILLED WEEKEND IS HERE AND WE SHOOT OUT A COUPLE MORE COLLEGE PREVIEWS/FORECASTS …
PLUS WE GET YOU SIX OF THE TOP NFL WEEK 4 GAMES ON THIS BUSY SUNDAY MENU AND RE-CAP SAN FRAN’S 35-11 THURSDAY NIGHT WIN AT ST. LOO
By Jim Hurley
Hey, San Fran 49ers … is everybody happy now?
One day after the Niners (2-2) slugged 3 ½-point home underdog St. Louis 35-11, the media can stop their relentless questions addressed to SF head coach Jim Harbaugh.
Okay, so OLB Aldon Smith’s in rehab and all but the Thursday Night win really was a major elixir for the Niners who – some would say – proved to be among the NFL’s most dysfunctional teams in the early going of this here-and-now 2013 season.
The fact of the matter is once RB Frank Gore (153 yards rushing) burst free for his easy-as-pie 34-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the first half – thus giving the 49ers a commanding 14-3 lead – the Niners were in cruise control and how about some of the game’s key numbers:
The 49ers averaged a hefty 5.5 yards a rush and the somewhat scorned San Fran defense allowed St. Loo to convert on just 3-of-17 third-down plays.
So put to rest this notion that the 49ers were headed for a train wreck season – they’ve very much alive and well although there’s still some chasing to do in order to catch 3-and-oh Seattle.
NCAA FOOTBALL PREVIEWS/FORECASTS
We checked in on those four Top 25 head-to-head matchups in our most recent edition of Jim Sez, so let’s get you a couple of other key matchups on tap for this final Saturday in September:
On Saturday, it’s …
#10 TEXAS A&M (3-1, 0-1 SEC) at ARKANSAS (3-1, 0-0 SEC) – 7 p.m. ET, espn2
Is Johnny Manziel headed towards a second straight Heisman Trophy? It’s hard to argue – so far – with these shiny numbers that include 1,228 yards passing with 12 TDs to go along with 255 yards rushing (a 6.5 ypc average) with 3 TDs. And, heck, the Hogs don’t even know right now who’s gonna play QB for ‘em here!
One thing you have to say for the visiting Aggies is they know how to cover the Las Vegas numbers as Kevin Sumlin’s crew is now 10-5 versus the vig since the start of last year. Just sayin’!
ARIZONA (3-0, 0-0 Pac-12) at #16 WASHINGTON (3-0, 0-0 Pac-12) – 7 p.m. ET, Fox
Let’s just say the “R” word – as in revenge – is in vogue this week in Seattle as the Washington Huskies were obliterated 52-17 at Arizona a year ago and so maybe it should come as no surprise that Steve Sarkisian’s squad is being listed as a 10 ½-point favorite (up from an opening-line price of 7 points).
Tell us right now whether or not veteran QB Keith Price is gonna be “on his game” here and we’ll gladly fill in the blanks as far as a final score.
Now hear this …
My handicappers and bloggers will continue to rock-n-roll into the winner’s circle with loads of NFL and NCAA Football winners this weekend and it all begins tonight with a pair of college games featuring Middle Tennessee State at BYU and the ESPN bash between Utah State at San Jose State, so don’t miss a beat! There’s a full slate of college games on tap Saturday including a bunch of marquee matchups (see LSU at Georgia, Wisconsin at Ohio State and Oklahoma at Notre Dame) plus a monstrous NFL Week 4 card that includes unbeaten Seattle at Houston and the New York Giants at 3-and-oh Kansas City.
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 any time after 10 a.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday.
Plus get all our down-the-stretch Major-League Baseball winners too! The MLB Playoffs are just days away now!
NFL WEEK 4 PREVIEWS & FORECASTS
On Sunday, it’s …
CHICAGO (3-0) at DETROIT (2-1) – 1 p.m. ET, Fox
The number don’t lie: The Chicago Bears are 13-1 SU (straight-up) in games where they’ve scored a defensive touchdown since 2011, and so the host Lions must stress ball security – and no dumb penalties for this NFC North indoors clash – but that’s always easier said than done, right?
No doubt the Motowners are moaning about the fact WR Nate Burleson (broken arm) decided to go out for some late-night pizza and so it’s incumbent on Detroit QB Matthew Stafford to find a #2 receiver here behind WR Calvin Johnson (17 catches and a 15.8 ypc average).
Hmm … a 3-and-oh team taking points? Not gonna happen a whole lot, right?
Spread Note – The Bears have failed to cover their last three consecutive trips into Ford Field including last season’s 26-24 non-cover win as 3-point favs in the regular-season finale.
PITTSBURGH (0-3) vs. MINNESOTA (0-3) – in London, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Think the Brits really thought they were getting a not-so-super matchup of winless teams when this one was slated for jolly ole England?
On one hand, Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger – yes, there’s another “Big Ben” in England this weekend – hasn’t received a whole lot of help from his Steelers’ mates, but he was the one who aired a pair of picks and lost two fumbles last Sunday night in that funky 40-23 home loss to Chicago.
If Roethlisberger (4 TDs and 4 INTs this season) can’t throw for more TDs than turnovers here, the 3-point favorite Steelers will be sunk and eyeballing a top five pick in next year’s NFL Draft.
Spread Note – Pittsburgh’s 2-8-1 ATS (against the spread) overall while dating back to last year.
NEW YORK GIANTS (0-3) at KANSAS CITY (3-0) – 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Maybe you didn’t catch the news out of Gotham City this past week:
The 0-3 New York Giants said they are “confident” going into this clash with the unbeaten Chiefs and even defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul said he’s pretty sure the Jints will win here.
Maybe so but there’s major O-line woes with both G Chris Snee (hip and other assorted hurts) and C Kevin Baas (neck) having missed practice time this past week, and don’t forget that Kansas City has allowed only three touchdowns in three games so far with KC collecting six sacks of Philly’s Michael Vick in that 26-16 prime-time win last Thursday Night.
Spread Note – The KC Chiefs are 0-7 ATS as home favorites since late in the 2010 season and that includes the 17-16 non-cover win against 3-point pup Dallas back in Week 2.
PHILADELPHIA (1-2) at DENVER (3-0) – 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox
Did you happen to catch Broncos’ QB Peyton Manning stopping by to say hi-and-goodbye to old friend/Colorado Rockies retiring 1B Todd Helton the other night at Coors Field?
Hey, Mr. Manning is everywhere these days and one place we know he’s been for a while is atop the NFL charts for touchdown passes this 2013 season:
Manning goes into this clash against the always-give-ground Eagles with 12 TD throws and 0 INTs and – better yet – the Broncos have won their first three games by a per-game average of 18.7 ppg, and they’ve managed that without CB Champ Bailey (look for him to be back here) and suspended LB Von Miller (he’ll be gone for another three games).
Spread Note – The Broncos are a tidy 9-4 against the odds when playing non-AFC West squads since the start of last year and that includes covers this year against Baltimore and at the NY Giants.
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DALLAS (2-1) at SAN DIEGO (1-2) – 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox
Hey, we’ll forgive Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray for being so immature following last weekend’s 175-yard showing in a 31-7 breeze-job win against St. Louis. Apparently, the Dallas running back didn’t like the criticism he was hearing prior to that game, but now’s the time to show one-and-all that Murray is “for real” and he must crack the 100-yard mark here against a Chargers team that has lost two brutally tough games just three weeks into this season.
Want a real X-factor for this interconference tilt?
San Diego RB Ryan Mathews – who’s often heard the boo-birds in his own backyard -- has gone 17 consecutive games without getting to the 100-yard mark. The Bolts will lose another close/tough one here if Mathews can’t snap this stinky streak.
Spread Note – The Cowboys have a shot to start this season 4-0 vig-wise and that has not happened since 2007 (a/k/a the Wade Phillips Era).
On Sunday Night, it’s …
NEW ENGLAND (3-0) at ATLANTA (1-2) – 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Six weeks ago we truly believed the Atlanta Falcons were gonna be the NFC representative in the Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium come February … now we’re thinking the Falcs are nothing but a major fraud!
Consider the fourth-quarter losses already at New Orleans and at Miami – the latter “featured” the Falcons going 2-of-5 in red-zone situations plus don’t forget the 35-yard gimme FG miss by PK Matt Bryant.
One such slipup this Sunday Night likely puts Atlanta at 1-3 through at the season’s so-called quarter pole. That’s more fraud than super, eh?
Spread Note -- The Falcons are 9-4 versus the vig when playing AFC foes while dating back to the start of the 2010 season.
NFL POINTSPREAD CHART – THE LEADERS AND BOTTOM-FEEDERS
Okay, we’re just three-plus weeks into this here-and-now NFL season but here’s the best and worst spread sides:
NOTE: Get more NFL Week 4 News & Notes in tomorrow’s edition of Jim Sez and remember we’ll have a Monday Night Football preview of 3-0 Miami at 3-0 New Orleans comin’ soon … don’t miss out!
Today’s Hot Plays
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Network MNF IS Back - Giants at Browns
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