NFL Overview

IT’S TIME TO KICK THINGS OFF TONIGHT IN SEATTLE BUT HERE’S SOME KEY QUESTIONS
FOR A SURE-TO-BE-THRILLING 2014 SEASON …

PLUS THE UP-TO-THE-MINUTE SUPER BOWL XLIX ODDS TO WIN IT ALL! …

THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT: HERE’S FRIDAY’S TV PREVIEWS

Hey, there’s a gazillion topics that can be tackled here as we get ready for the start of another National Football League season but let’s go ahead and settle on a handful of quick-hitter subjects/questions (many of which we asked at this very time last year!) before the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks kick things off tonight in Seattle … and here’s what we’ve got:

1 - ARE THE SEAHAWKS GOOD ENOUGH/DEEP ENOUGH TO GET BACK TO ANOTHER SUPER BOWL THIS SEASON?
Let’s just say that the Seahawks are downright loaded and the smarty-pants oddsmakers in Las Vegas agree as they say Seattle is + 400 (or 4-to-1) to win it all while the next-closest betting favorites are the Denver Broncos priced at + 425-to-$100 wager.

Keep in mind the Seattle offense may have lost WR Golden Tate but added speedy rookie WR Paul Richardson and finally have back injury-prone WR Percy Harvin and so QB Russell Wilson should be thinking more big play than ever before. Plus, the world-beater defense doesn’t look like it will take a big step back even with the free-agency loss of CB Walter Thurmond (New York Giants) and the release of DE Chris Clemons.

Gut feeling is Seattle will be the first defending Super Bowl champ to win a post-season game the following year since those 2005 New England Patriots but we won’t pick ‘em to repeat as champs.

2 – WHAT RISING QUARTERBACKS CAN BE COUNTED ON FOR A MONSTER SEASON IN 2014?
Let’s put two names on this Jim Sez short list:

Cincinnati Bengals slinger Andy Dalton spent the better part of the past six months getting verbally pummeled for not leading this AFC North team to a playoff win in any of the past three seasons but Dalton (4,293 yards passing with 33 touchdowns in 2013) is sure to cut down on his 20 interceptions plus we’ll count on him once again being an effective red-zone thrower after Cincy ranked second in the NFL last year in red-zone scoring (71 percent).
Mark it down – Dalton’s Pro Bowl-bound and the Bengals are gonna win a playoff game (or two).

Then there’s Tennessee Titans slinger Jake Locker – if the former University of Washington star can simply stay healthy in 2014 then the Titans could be noise-makers in the AFC South. Locker has missed 14 games of a possible 32 starts the past two years with assorted injuries but he was showing arrow-pointing-up signs last year before getting sidelined with a foot injury.

If Locker can give the Titans a full 16-game season here, we say Tennessee’s threatens for a playoff berth.

3 – WHAT TEAM MAY JUST RISE FROM THE ASHES … AND WHAT NFL TEAM IS BOUND TO DISAPPOINT?
Okay, so we were wrong last year with our pick of the Detroit Lions as the team to “rise from the ashes” but that ain’t gonna stop us now!

Sure, we know everyone and his brother are saying the Houston Texans – coming off last year’s 2-14 SU (straight-up) season – are gonna have a rebirth under first-year head coach Bill O’Brien but we aren’t buying it and instead will count on the Pittsburgh Steelers to bounce back big-time from back-to-back non-playoff seasons the past two years. Mike Tomlin’s club will get a monster year from QB Ben Roethlisberger and that slam-bang ground game will remind Steelers’ fans of the 1970s … you’ll see. Hey, we’ve got more to say about Pittsburgh a bit later here in this Jim Sez column.

The NFL team bound to disappoint?

We say it’s the other team that plays in the Keystone State – the Philadelphia Eagles.

Maybe you think Chip Kelly’s club will walk all over the rest of the NFC East – Dallas, the New York Giants and Washington all have major flaws as we head into the Week 1 schedule – but something tells us the loss of WR DeSean Jackson (to Washington) and maybe even the over-reliance on RB LeSean McCoy will catch up with the Birds sometime in the back half of this 2014 season. Let’s call it no better than an 8-and-8 season for a team that is “supposed” to win 9 or 9 ½ games this year.

4 – WHAT FIRST-YEAR NFL COACHES ARE BOUND TO MAKE THE BIGGEST SPLASHES IN 2013?
We’re expecting both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Tennessee Titans to be significantly improved in the all-important won/loss column under their respective new coaches – that’s Lovie Smith in Tampa Bay and Ken Whisenhunt in Tennessee.

Overall, we see Smith as a perfect fit for the Bucs who must buckle down after allowing 24.3 points per game a year ago (that ranked 21st in the NFL) while the offensive-minded Whisenhunt will get the very best from the aforementioned QB Locker and don’t be surprised if Titans’ WR Kendall Wright (94 receptions last year for 1,079 yards) is among the top two or three-best fantasy players at his position.

5 – FINALLY, WHO’S OUR PICK TO PLAY IN SUPER BOWL XLIX IN GLENDALE?
Hold onto your clipboards but we’ve got a Pittsburgh versus New Orleans showdown for Super Bowl 49 – as we told you last week you can get that matchup at 90-to-1 odds right now in many locales – and while you might think it’s crazy, consider that the Saints have been an ultra-popular pick to win it all in recent weeks as their odds went down from 14-to-1 to 6-to-1 (see chart below) while only three AFC teams (that’s Denver, New England and Indianapolis) have shorter win-it-all odds than do these Steelers.

We were half-right on our Super Bowl matchup a year ago – we were right with Denver and dead-wrong with Atlanta – and our “dark horse Super Bowl didn’t fare too well as we said Chicago vs. Cincinnati.

So, this time around our dark-horse Super Bowl matchup (that’s if you don’t consider Steelers-Saints “dark horse” enough) is San Diego versus Chicago.

Now hear this …
My veteran Handicappers and Bloggers are all revved up for this NFL season and we’ll storm our way to the winner’s circle beginning tonight with a winner in this prime-time clash between the Green Bay Packers at the Seattle Seahawks, and bonus on the College matchup between Arizona and UTSA..

Last weekend we smoked Las Vegas big-time with a bunch of College Football Winners including Colorado State (+ 2.5) over Colorado and now Jim Hurley -- America’s #1 Handicapper – is set to smash the books this weekend with both NCAA and NFL Week 1 winners galore! Plus 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 2014 MLB season.

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

SUPER BOWL XLIX ODDS TO WIN IT ALL
(Note all figures below are based on $100 per-play wagers):

TEAMODDS TO WIN SB 49
Seattle+ 400
Denver+ 425
New England+ 600
New Orleans+ 600
Green Bay+ 750
San Francisco+ 800
Indianapolis+ 1700
Chicago+ 1800
Cincinnati+ 2000
Pittsburgh+ 2000
Philadelphia+ 2300
Baltimore+ 2500
Houston+ 2500
San Diego+ 2800
NY Giants+ 3200
Arizona+ 3500
Detroit+ 3500
Miami+ 4000
Kansas City+ 4500
Atlanta+ 5000
Carolina+ 5000
Minnesota+ 5000
NY Jets+ 5000
Washington+ 5000
Buffalo+ 5500
Dallas+ 6000
St. Louis+ 6500
Cleveland+ 8000
Tampa Bay+ 8000
Oakland+ 10000
Tennessee+ 10000
Jacksonville+ 20000

COLLEGE FOOTBALL’S TV PREVIEWS

On Friday, it’s …
PITTSBURGH (1-0) at BOSTON COLLEGE (1-0) – 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
The once-upon-a-time Big East rivals (remember when!) are ACC foes nowadays although these clubs didn’t play one another last year in Year One of the league for Pittsburgh. Now the 4-point road-favored Panthers will look to get physical against BC and that means a heavy dose of 250-plus pound RB James Conner who rushed for 153 yards and 4 first-half TDs in last week’s 62-0 drubbing of 24 ½-point dog Delaware.

Meanwhile, the Eagles’ offensive strategy here will include lots of dual-threat QB Tyler Murphy – the former Florida signal-caller -- who threw for 173 yards and rushed for another 118 yards in last weekend’s 30-7 win/cover at 18-point pup UMass.
Still, Boston College needs a better start here as last week’s win included two first-half field goals before Murphy and Company really started to rock in the second half.

Spread Notes – Pittsburgh went just 1-6-1 ATS (against the spread) in ACC play last year while Boston College enters this conference clash having covered 10 of its last 16 overall on-the-board affairs.

WASHINGTON STATE (0-1) at NEVADA (1-0) – 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
If the Mike Leach Era is ever really gonna “take off” at Washington State, then the Cougars can’t be losing games like last Thursday’s 41-38 home setback versus 7 ½-point dog Rutgers. The Coogs not only surrendered 496 yards to a rather pedestrian Rutgers attack but W-State QB Connor Halliday (532 yards passing and 5 TDs) took several major shots to the chops.

If Nevada can force-feed some pass-rush pressure on Halliday here – and if the always-noisy Wolf Pack crowd can throw Wazzau out of rhythm at times when they approach the line of scrimmage – than we could get the mild upset here as note Nevada’s a 3 ½-point pup at press time one week after Brian Polian’s club topped 24 ½-point dog Southern Utah 28-19 behind QB Cody Fajardo’s 303 passing yards.

Spread Notes – Washington State sported a 6-1 ATS away mark last year and that included covers at Auburn, USC and Oregon. On the flip side, Nevada is 14-21-2 spreadwise overall since the start of the 2011 campaign. Note these teams last met in 2005 when 9 ½-point home fav Washington State snagged a 55-21 win/cover.

NOTE: Catch our College Football Saturday Game Previews in tomorrow’s edition of Jim Sez plus we will have NFL Week 1 Sunday Game Previews in our weekend column … so don’t dare miss out!

25
Sep

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