NFL Kicks Off Thursday

THE NFL KICKOFF GAME IS HERE!!!

PACKERS-SEAHAWKS SQUARE OFF IN SEATTLE IN A MONSTER MATCHUP ON THURSDAY NIGHT …

OUR JIM SEZ MID-WEEK REPORT GETS YOU FOOTBALL-ON-A-SCHOOL-NIGHT ACTION AS ARIZONA BATTLES UPSET-MINDED UT-SAN ANTONIO

By Jim Hurley:

Glory, glory hallelujah!

The National Football League is back and the $64,000 question is will we have our first repeat Super Bowl champions in 10 years?
Yes, sir/ma’am, not since the 2003-04 New England Patriots has an NFL champion been able to tack together back-to-back titles and – better yet – the NFL hasn’t even seen a defending Super Bowl champ win a playoff game the following year since the 2005 Pats downed Jacksonville 28-3 in an AFC Divisional Playoff Game.

Really!

So, recent history – as in the past decade – really is against the Seahawks as they embark on this journey for an encore performance but right here/right now it’s hard to believe that Pete Carroll’s team won’t be a major factor while heading towards Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale on February 1, 2015.
If you check with the smarties in Las Vegas, they have the Seahawks as + 450-to-$100 odds to win it all (or 4.5-to-1) while the over/under wins totals price for Seattle is 11 over – 130.

P.S., only the Denver Broncos – beaten soundly by Seattle in last year’s Super Bowl 43-8 in New Jersey – are projected to have more wins than the Seahawks as the AFC West crew is listed at 11.5 wins. Okay, so let’s kick it off already!

On Thursday, it’s …NFL KICKOFF GAME
GREEN BAY at SEATTLE – 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC

Trust us … It won’t take NBC announcers Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth all that long before they’re closely dissecting the new NFL rules that really restrict hand contact between defensive backs and wide receivers – most in-the-know folks believe the stringent “do not touch” rules were plainly directed at the Seattle Seahawks who hand-checked and/or “mugged” their way to a 13-win regular season and a Super Bowl title a year ago.

So, does that mean Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers tests the likes of Pro Bowl CB Richard Sherman and Company here with the hopes of getting lots of penalty flags (see the penalty-filled preseason!) or will the Pack perhaps flip the script and go more with a physical pound-it-out ground game starring physical second-year pro RB Eddie Lacy (1,178 yards rushing and 11 TDs last year) and merely hope for the best?

We do know that Seattle QB Russell Wilson has more weapons than ever before: WR Percy Harvin is healthy (for once) and should be a field-flipper here against a Green Bay defense that last year ranked 25th against the rush and 24th versus the pass … ugh!

There is also rookie WR Paul Richardson (Colorado) who must draw some of Green Bay’s defensive attention here and so, while RB Marshawn Lynch remains the lynchpin of this attack, you might not see the moody back rush it 25-plus times here should Wilson be able to pick-and-choose some downfield targets.

The Seahawks are 5 ½-point betting favorites for this clash and the totals price is 46 points – does that latter price appear suspiciously “high” to you?

Spread Notes – Seattle registered a heady 13-6 ATS (against the spread) mark a year ago en route to capturing its first-ever Super Bowl win but did you realize that the Seahawks are a collective 36-16-1 versus the vig (that’s a dandy .692 winning rate) since the start of the 2011 campaign? Note Seattle is 19-7 ATS at home the past three seasons. On the flip side, Green Bay is coming off a 7-9-1 ATS season – the first time the Packers have suffered a losing spread mark since 2006 – and note G-Bay is just 2-7-1 ATS in their last 10 games when in the underdog role. However, overall the NFC North crew is 80-56-3 spreadwise in the Mike McCarthy Era (a .599 winning percentage) dating back to the start of the ’06 season.

Okay, so here’s the rundown of NFL Kickoff Games since the beginning and note all home teams are in CAPS:

YEARWINNERSPREADLOSERSCORE
*2013DENVER- 7Baltimore49-27
2012Dallas+ 3.5NY GIANTS24-17
2011GREEN BAY- 5New Orleans42-34
2010NEW ORLEANS- 5Minnesota14-9
2009PITTSBURGH- 6.5Tennessee13-10
2008NY GIANTS- 4.5Washington16-7
2007INDIANAPOLIS- 5.5New Orleans41-10
2006PITTSBURGH- 1Miami28-17
2005NEW ENGLAND- 7.5Oakland30-20
2004NEW ENGLAND- 3Indianapolis27-24
  • Note: The defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens did not get to play the Kickoff Game at home, thus becoming the one-and-only defending champ to debut on the road the following year since 2004.

       
Meanwhile, you’ll see that the other nine defending Super Bowl champions that opened at home are 8-1 SU (straight-up) and 5-2-2 ATS while we discount last year’s Ravens at Broncos bash in the Mile High City.

Jim Hurley and his veteran Handicappers and Bloggers are storming their way towards the start of this 2014 NFL season with Thursday’s Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks game set to kick off this new season plus America’s #1 Handicapper plans on another big week/weekend in College Football with this week’s action featuring Thursday’s Arizona at UT-San Antonio bash, Friday’s Pittsburgh at Boston College and Washington State at Nevada double dip and there’s plenty of Saturday goodies including USC at Stanford, Michigan State at Oregon, Michigan at Notre Dame and Virginia Tech at Ohio State. Plus continue to cash in with loads of Major-League Baseball Winners too as we’ve been banging out lots of “W’s” in recent weeks as we head to the home stretch of this 2013 MLB season.

Check with us game days right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 any time after 1 p.m. Eastern time for the weeknight NFL, NCAA Football and MLB action, after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday Baseball games and then after 10 a.m. ET for all the Saturday and Sunday action.

OUR COLLEGE FOOTBALL MID-WEEK NOTEBOOK

Lots to chat about when it comes to the start of this here-and-now College Football Season and so let’s spin ‘round the land and cover some timely topics …
It was a troubling opening week health-wise for many college quarterbacks as Texas’ David Ash suffered yet another concussion, Baylor's Bryce Petty cracked two ribs that may or may not keep him out of the team’s game Saturday versus little Northwestern State, USC’s Cody Kessler (394 yards passing and 4 TDs in rollicking 52-13 win against 18 ½-point dog Fresno State) suffered a toe injury that required a medical procedure on Tuesday and thus he missed practice and don’t forget Wisconsin’s Joel Stave (shoulder) who is out indefinitely.

Heck, we didn’t even mention Ohio State’s Braxton Miller whose 2014 season was kayoed even before the first game with a shoulder injury suffered in practice … maybe Texas A&M’s Kenny Hill will be the country’s best slinger when all’s said and done as long as he stays in one piece …

Note that NCAA Betting Favorites registered a 20-18 ATS mark in the on-the-board scheduled games last week/weekend – in case you were wondering about all of those double-digit betting favorites in last week’s games the heavy-duty chalk actually cranked out a decent 13-9 spread mark (.591) and you check out this weekend’s card and there’s another 29 double-digit betting favorites on the docket – must be September, right?

On Thursday Night, it’s …ARIZONA (1-0) at UT-SAN ANTONIO (1-0) – 8 p.m. ET, Fox 1
There’s been plenty of chatter regarding the Pac-12 this young season – is it the best league in the land or no? – but one team that somehow avoided the pre-season spotlight was the Arizona Wildcats.

Not anymore.

The ‘Cats opened up their 2014 season last Friday night with a resounding 58-13 win against 21-point pup UNLV and new QB Anu Solomon was the real deal after an albeit somewhat shaky start that included a couple of bad overthrows.

Solomon finished the night by completing 25-of-44 passes for 425 yards and four touchdowns but this figures to be a bigger challenge now than first imagined as the UT-San Antonio Roadrunners zoom into this prime-time game fresh off last Friday night’s 27-7 upset win at 9-point fav Houston.

The star of that game for Larry Coker’s club was the UTSA defense that held the high-octane Cougars to 4-of-16 third-down conversions and minus 26 yards rushing but here look for Arizona’s up-tempo attack to spread the field with Solomon taking off on runs in the creases.
Note UTSA’s David Glasco II (81 yards rushing on 25 carries) scored a pair of first-half TDs last week and could gum up Arizona’s defense with some strong between-the-tackle runs.

Can Coker’s guys deliver a second straight upset to start off this ’14 season?

Spread Notes – Arizona is just 13-24 ATS away since the start of the 2008 season (a wobbly .351 winning rate) and note the U of A Wildcats are gruesome 9-13-1 spreadwise versus non-conference foes and that includes last week’s rollicking 45-point win/cover against 3-TD dog UNLV. Note that UT-San Antonio is now a sizzling 14-6-1 ATS under fourth-year boss-man Coker, the former Miami head coach who won the national championship back in the 2001 season.

NOTE: Lots of NCAA Football News & Notes heading your way in the coming editions of Jim Sez!

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