Sunday NFL


By Jim Hurley:

In an earlier-week edition of Jim Sez we brought you in-depth previews/forecasts of some key NFL Week 9 games including Kansas City at Buffalo and Pittsburgh at New England and now we keep the pro gridiron beat rollin' here with more quick-hitter previews/forecasts as we check in on Sunday's card:

In NFL Week 9 play, it's ...

MINNESOTA (1-6) at DALLAS (4-4) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
The glass-half-full Dallas Cowboys fan will be quick to tell you that Jason Garrett's gang is a mere five points away from being 7-1 SU (straight-up) this season - we won't argue that! However, the reality of the situation is the 'Boys have found ways to blow games against Kansas City, Denver and - last week - Detroit and so the tenuous lead in the awful NFC East remains one full game over reeling Philadelphia (3-5) while heading into this home game against pathetic Minnesota.

Dallas believes it has put aside that sideline show that captivated the country a week ago - WR Dez Bryant was rather low-key this week and that's good - but the key to whether the 'Boys win/cover this 10-point price may depend on how Dallas fares on third-down plays.

In last week's never-that-close 44-31 loss to Green Bay, the overworked Vikings defense allowed the Packers to convert 13-of-18 third-down plays and both of GB's fourth-down tries ... maybe Dallas QB Tony Romo will get to hook up with the noisy Bryant a few times early on here to eliminate any "drama".

Spread Notes - Dallas has busted out to a 7-1 ATS (against the spread) start this season and note the Cowboys have covered three-of-four as betting favorites after going a collective 6-22-1 spreadwise as chalk-eaters the past three years. Minnesota, meanwhile, is a rotten 2-5 vig-wise so far this year but the Vikes are a decent 15-10-1 ATS as underdog sides the past two-plus seasons.

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NEW ORLEANS (6-1) at NEW YORK JETS (4-4) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
It's being hyped - by some folks - as the "Ryan Bowl" as New York Jets' fifth-year head coach Rex Ryan shares the stage with New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan (yes, that would have to be a pretty large stage for these twins!) but leave no doubt that the center of attention here is N'Orleans QB Drew Brees who comes off a five-touchdown passing game in last week's 35-17 win/cover against 10 ½-point underdog Buffalo.

No doubt that following the Week 8 win Brees was lamenting the many mental/physical errors his team made in that 18-point victory:

Twice the Saints had just 10 players on offense plus New Orleans committed eight penalties in all and the aforementioned Brees was sacked four times, so it's not as if Sean Payton's team is purring without any woes these days.

If the Jets' better-than-you-think defensive line - starring ultra-active DE Muhammad Wilkerson (see INT last week in that 49-9 loss in Cincinnati) - can get their hands in Brees' face here, then the 6-point home dog J-E-T-S might have a prayer in this win-one-week, lose-one-week season.

Spread Notes - New Orleans has charged out to a 5-2 ATS start this season and note the Saints are 18-9 spreadwise when playing outside the NFC South since the start of the 2011 campaign. On the flip side, the Jets are 5-3 against the odds thus far in 2013 and that includes outright wins against NFC South teams Tampa Bay and Atlanta.

TAMPA BAY (0-7) at SEATTLE (7-1) - 4:05 p.m. ET, Fox
In case you were wondering, the Seattle Seahawks already have been favored by 20 and 12 ½ points in prior games this year against Jacksonville and Tennessee, respectively, and so this 16-point price tag isn't exactly foreign territory.

However, if Seattle's offense - held to 135 total yards in last Monday Night's down-to-the-wire 14-9 non-cover win in St. Louis - doesn't get a wake-up call here against a Bucs defense that has surrendered 31 points in each of the team's last three games, then there may be some cause for concern for the 'Hawks.
On Seattle's priority list of game-planning "to-do's" here is get heat on Tampa Bay rookie QB Mike Glennon who has already thrown more passes (181) than anyone in NFL history in his first four games.

If Glennon can avoid getting picked clean by CB Richard Sherman and friends here, this one could be closer than "they" think.

Spread Notes - Seattle's covered five of its first eight games this season although the Seahawks are 1-3 ATS the past month. Note that this NFC West crew is a tasty 21-7 ATS at home under fourth-year head coach Pete Carroll. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, is 1-6 against the juice so far this nightmarish season with the lone cover occurring in a 16-14 loss against 3-point road fav New Orleans in a Week 2 clash.
On Sunday Night, it's ...

INDIANAPOLIS (5-2) at HOUSTON (2-5) - 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC
The "who's who" list of teams that the Indy Colts have beaten this year includes the likes of San Francisco, Seattle and Denver - true cream-of-the-crop clubs in the National Football League, for sure - but will QB Andrew Luck (1,574 yards passing with 10 TDs and 3 INTs) and mates play with the same swagger here against a desperate Texans team that figures to be without top-shelf RB Arian Foster (hamstring/questionable)?

The Colts had last week off to soak up the reality that WR Reggie Wayne (knee/out for the year) won't be part of the on-field action anymore this year and so look for Luck to tap TE Coby Fleener (22 catches and 3 TDs) more often here and don't at all be surprised if there are more running plays designed for Luck who has averaged a haughty 6.5 yards a pop on his 28 carries thus far.

One item here in regards to the Texans: They've obviously "turned the page" and benched a now-healthy Matt Schaub but will head coach Gary Kubiak go back to his long-time starter should QB Case Keenum struggle here?

Note that Keenum completed 15-of-25 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown in his first start of this season - a 17-16 loss-but-cover at 6 ½-point fav Kansas City two weekends ago.

Spread Notes - Houston's failed to cover six of its first seven games this year but the Texans still enter this prime-time tilt with a tidy 8-4-1 ATS mark in divisional play dating back to the start of 2011. Indianapolis - which has covered four of its last five games this year following on 0-2 ATS start - is just 2-8 versus the vig in its last 10 trips to the Space City.

NOTE: Lots more in the next edition of Jim Sez including a Monday Night Football Preview/Forecast - that's the Chicago Bears at the Green Bay Packers.


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