Week 12 Recap and College Football Report

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THE NFL WEEK 12 KEY RE-CAPS: WE CHECK OUT PATRIOTS’ COME-FROM-WAY-WAY-WAY-BEHIND OVERTIME WIN AGAINST THE BRONCOS PLUS MORE SUNDAY GAME NOTES …AND IT’S THE MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PREVIEW/FORECAST AS 49ERS-REDSKINS COLLIDE …

THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL UPDATE: WHAT’S STRAIGHT AHEAD FOR THE BCS FOLKS NOW THAT BAYLOR’S BEEN BOPPED BIG-TIME

By Jim Hurley

On an NFL Sunday in which plenty of strange things happened – see the Minnesota-Green Bay tie (only the fourth in the league since 2000), a third straight win by once-upon-a-time beleaguered Tampa Bay and QB Andrew Luck's team getting beaten by 29 points – they saved the best for last:

At 12:23 a.m. Eastern time on this Monday morning, the New England Patriots put everyone to bed (at least everyone on the East Coast!) with their unlikely 34-31 deep-into-overtime home win against the Denver Broncos – so you can make that Peyton Manning record to read 52-and-1 now in games in which his teams have led by 22-or-more points at some stage of the game as the Pats roared back from a 24-0 first-half deficit.

And so if you switched to the “American Music Awards” show or some other reality TV junk show, then shame on you!

Meanwhile, we’re not entirely dumping this messy loss on Mr. Manning, even though he did throw for only 150 yards with two TDs and one INT and sure seemed more comfortable handing the ball off in the chilly temps in Foxboro:

Manning did lead the game-tying 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that knotted the tilt at 31 points apiece late in regulation play, but he rarely came up with any difference-making plays save for the occasional “wow” pass fit neatly between defenders.

If truth be told, the Broncos merely fell asleep at the wheel to start the second half when New England QB Tom Brady completed seven passes during a game-turning 8-play, 80-yard TD drive capped with a 5-yard TD toss to WR Julian Edelman, and the Pats’ momentum surged like a tsunami from that point forward.

Now, Brady – who threw for 344 yards with 3 TDs and 0 INTs – is a neat 10-4 SU (straight-up) in his career head-to-head battles with Manning, and maybe it was justice that Brady and Company got the OT break where former Pats star Wes Welker failed to alert teammate Tony Carter of a wind-blown punt that banged into Carter and was recovered by New England at the Denver 13-yard line … and PK Steven Gostkowski nailed a 31-yard FG to win it, and this guy doesn’t really miss any kicks anymore.

On a night when there were seven turnovers in all – Denver lost three fumbles and there was that single Manning pick while New England coughed up the ball three times with lost fumbles on its first three drives – the underlying theme is this was a disastrous loss for the Broncos:

How do you lose a game when you rush for 280 yards – RB Knowshon Moreno was sensational with his 224 yards rushing – and average a whopping 5.8 yards per carry?

Simply put, you don’t unless you really screw things up and – in this instance – the Brady Mystique worked wonders as the Broncos stopped delivering death blows in the pocket and stopped creating turnovers after that initial seven-and-a-half minutes to start the game.

We’ll all know what game the Broncos point to if they don’t win the AFC West and have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs!

On to Kansas City, boys!

We’ll dig into a few more NFL Week 12 key storylines in just a second plus get you’re the MNF preview/forecast of the game between the San Francisco 49ers at the Washington Redskins but first this key reminder …

My handicappers and bloggers have everything all mapped out for tonight’s NFL Week 12 tilt and you can get the Side & Totals winners when you check with us here at Jim Hurley’s Network at the toll-free # of 1-800-323-4453 or right here online at www.jimhurley.com.

And remember to get all the Thanksgiving Day week/weekend games – including the trio of NFL Week 13 tilts on Turkey Day featuring Green Bay at Detroit, Oakland at Dallas and Pittsburgh at Baltimore – plus all the NCAA Football, NBA and NCAA Basketball winners too as we roar through the holidays with more major hot streaks to come!

In other NFL Week 12 Game Notes …

Don’t look now, but a few of the divisional races are “coming back to the pack” as the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens – now both 5-6 following Week 12 wins – have inched to within two games of the idle Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North.

No doubt Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger – who is now 37-11 SU lifetime in divisional games – was the toast of the Steel City following the easy 27-11 win at 2 ½-point fav Cleveland with 217 yards passing and two TDs, but how about a Steelers defense that registered five sacks and kayoed Cleveland QB Jason Campbell from the proceedings …

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether Green Bay’s aforementioned 26-26 tie against 5 ½-point pup Minnesota will help or hinder the Packers’ playoff chances now that Mike McCarthy’s club is 5-5-1 overall while Detroit and Chicago share top spot in the NFC North with identical 6-and-5 marks, but do keep in mind this is a “short week” for the banged-up Packers who play at Detroit on Thanksgiving Day after playing five quarters of super-intense football with the Vikes here.

Did you happen to notice that Green Bay’s defense was on the field for 40 minutes and 33 seconds?

And don’t expect to see QB Aaron Rodgers back in time for this Turkey Day game in Motown after Scott Tolzien and “relief pitcher” Matt Flynn combined to throw 53 passes (and no INTs) in that OT affair at Lambeau Field …

Finally, the hottest team in the NFL remains the Carolina Panthers (8-3), who won their seventh in a row in rather dramatic fashion with that 20-16 win in Miami.

The Panthers never did get a handle on Miami WR Mike Wallace, who nabbed 5 receptions for 127 yards and one score and barely missed on one bomb throw from QB Ryan Tannehill, but gotta say Carolina QB Cam Newton (174 yards passing and a team-high 51 yards rushing) is playing with an all-time high in confidence and he’s really discovered another favorite target in TE Greg Olson who has now caught a touchdown pass in four of his last five games including the game-winner here.

Did you ever think after Carolina’s 1-and-3 start that you would be discussing this NFC South crew in terms of getting a #2 seed in the NFC Playoffs … keep in mind the Panthers play NFC South rival New Orleans twice in the next four weeks.


THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT

It doesn’t take a proverbial rocket scientist to know that the weekend’s “biggest loser” was the Baylor Bears, who went from BCS buzz team to busted with that 49-17 loss at Oklahoma State – and just what is it that has some of college football’s top teams getting torched on the pre-Thanksgiving Day weekend, as you’ll recall that both Kansas State and Oregon were kayoed from the unbeaten ranks at this time a year ago (and maybe Oregon is making it a habit to lose all its pre-Thanksgiving Day) as both were 10-and-oh while this Baylor bunch was 9-0 before getting walloped in Stillwater.

No doubt the three major FBS teams still without a loss – that’s Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State – appear to be the only teams with a legitimate claim to this year’s BCS Championship Game no matter what the chatty Auburn fans say should War Eagle beat ‘Bama in this Saturday’s much-anticipated Iron Bowl game.

If you ask us, the formula appears simple, but is not:

Hey, if Alabama and Florida State both win out, they likely square off for all the marbles, but if this Jameis Winston legal matter doesn’t “go away” anytime soon, you wonder if the human element in the polls will shy away from putting Winston’s Florida State team in the mix and that might well open the door for Ohio State.

But here’s the really delicious question:

What if two of these three FBS unbeaten lose sometime between now and December 7th?

Then what gives?

We’ll go on record to state that undefeated teams get the definite nod over any/all one-loss teams no matter the scenario, but heaven help us if Alabama loses to either Auburn this weekend or against Missouri/South Carolina in the SEC Championship Game and still gets an invite to the title tilt in Pasadena … then we’ll really flip out!

A couple of items from this past weekend’s College Football action …

The Duke Blue Devils are one win away from landing up opposite aforementioned Florida State in the upcoming ACC Championship Game following the come-from-behind 28-21 victory at 6 ½-point pup Wake Forest.

But that’s not gonna be an easy task playing at archrival (and red-hot) North Carolina this Saturday.

Still, the Dookies put themselves in this position after rallying from a 14-0 deficit against WF thanks in large part to the three TD passes by QB Anthony Boone, but how about a round of applause for one of the country’s best-kept secrets in WR Jamison Crowder, who snared 10 passes for 121 yards including scores from 10 and 58 yards out.

Hey, Duke allowed Wake Forest to convert 10-of-18 third-down plays and still won and covered … not bad!

And if Duke head coach David Cutcliffe doesn’t get the National Coach of the Year honor this year, then how about some love for Arizona State’s second-year boss-man Todd Graham?

The once-vagabond college coach guided his club into the Pac-12 Championship Game with last Saturday’s 38-33 win/cover against 3-point dog UCLA – and you talk about balance!

The Sun Devils rushed it for 223 yards and threw for 225 yards in the epic win against the Uclans and managed to hang on despite the fact they scored all but three of their points in the first half (with four TDs in the final 16 minutes of game time in the opening half).

NOTE: Get all the Thanksgiving Day/Night Football Previews from the NFL and College Football in the next edition of Jim Sez and stay with us every day this week for wall-to-wall gridiron goodies including our Heisman Trophy Watch List and much more!

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