Midweek Update

STEELERS-RAVENS THURSDAY NIGHT TILT PLUS A SNEAK PEEK AT SOME OTHER KEY WEEK 2 GAMES …

THE COLLEGE KIDS ARE TALKIN’ PLAYOFFS THIS YEAR (AND SO ARE WE!!!)

You tell us …Is it too early in this here-and-now NFL 2014 season to say someone has a “must-win” game on its Week 2 schedule?
We’re wondering that aloud because the likes of the beleaguered Baltimore Ravens (please, we can’t watch the Ray Rice elevator video one more time, guys!), the Washington Redskins, the New York Giants, the Cleveland Browns, the Tampa Bay Bucs, the San Diego Chargers, the Oakland Raiders, the Green Bay Packers  and the Indianapolis Colts all play Week 2 home games off a Week 1 loss and NFL history tells us that not many folks rebound from 0-and-2 SU (straight-up) starts to make a big splash.

Let’s say – the way we see it – the 0-1 home favorites simply can’t afford to blow it this weekend and so the ‘Skins, Giants, Bucs, Packers and Colts will be on our Jim Sez radar big-time as an “L” this week could have ‘em all on the slippery-slope out of the playoff picture faster than you can say Vince Lombardi!
We get the NFL Week 2 menu off and rollin’ with the first of the much-hyped CBS Thursday Night games and so let’s get movin’ already here:

NFL WEEK 2 – THE THURSDAY NITE GAME
PITTSBURGH (1-0) at BALTIMORE (0-1) – 8:25 p.m. ET, CBS
Let’s face it …The least of the Baltimore Ravens’ problems is who’s gonna run the ball this year now that the aforementioned RB Rice has had his contract “terminated” but the fact is relative unknown RB Justin Forsett (11 carries for 70 yards in last Sunday’s helter-skelter 23-16 home loss against Cincinnati) figures to get his name called 20-plus times here providing Baltimore’s not playing in the come-from-behind role as was the case in Week 1.

No doubt you saw that Baltimore QB Joe Flacco threw the ball 62 times in that divisional home loss – he completed 35 passes for 345 yards including a dazzling 8-yard scoring strike to WR Steve Smith Sr. – and there’s no way John Harbaugh’s club wins with Flacco chucking it half-a-hundred times or more here.
On the flip side, there was plenty more QB Ben Roethlisberger magic coming out of Pittsburgh’s scary 30-27 non-cover win against 5 ½-point pup Cleveland in Week 1 action.

Roethlisberger (23-of-34 for 365 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT) typically evaded the Browns’ pass rush to make big plays down the field and did you happen to notice that the Steelers finally had that elusive 100-yard rusher as RB Le’Veon Bell – who accounted for 197 total yards in all – rushed for 109 yards while averaging a hefty 5.2 yards a pop.

Can Bell – off this short week with travel too – have enough gas in the tank to run it between 20-to-30 times here?

Spread Notes – Pittsburgh is 7-3-2 ATS (against the spread) in head-to-head tussles with Baltimore dating back to the 2008 campaign and that includes the Steelers’ 31-24 win/cover as 3 ½-point home favorites in a 2010 AFC Divisional Playoff Game. On the flip side, the Ravens enter this prime-time affair at 4-7-1 ATS in AFC North games since the start of the 2012 campaign.

Jim Hurley and his veteran Handicappers and Bloggers are all revved up for this NCAA and NFL season and we’ll continue to storm our way right to the winner’s circle all year long: Make sure you’re banging out lots of winners this week beginning with the above-mentioned Thursday Night Game on CBS as we’ll have the Side & Totals winners on the AFC North battle between Pittsburgh at Baltimore.

Plus, get all the important College Football games this week/weekend starting off with Thursday’s Houston at BYU bash on ESPN, Friday’s Toledo at Cincinnati and Baylor at Buffalo showdowns and note it’s a slam-bang Saturday with major matchups such as Georgia at South Carolina, Purdue at Notre Dame and Tennessee at Oklahoma.

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 tonight action and after 10 a.m. ET for the Saturday and Sunday NFL. NCAA and MLB winners!

Here’s a quickie look at some other NFL Week 2 games including those home teams in “must-win” mode:

ARIZONA at NEW YORK GIANTS – 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Guess you could say the New York Giants continued their summertime follies right into NFL Week 1 action … the bungling 35-14 loss at 6 ½-point fav Detroit this past Monday Night was a real car-wreck game for Tom Coughlin’s crew but who knew the Jints’ secondary (an alleged strong point) would play so poorly in that route? Detroit WR Calvin Johnson burned the Giants to the tune of 7 catches for 164 yards and two scores but some of the other stats that had to burn Coughlin included a 3-of-13 success rate in third-down plays for the NYG “still-broken” offense and a shabby 2.4 yards-per carry average (that’s 22 carries for 53 yards in all) by a backfield that was supposed to be a strong suit.

SEATTLE at SAN DIEGO – 4:05 p.m. ET, Fox
Mark down the SD Chargers’ Week One loss in Arizona as a season-crippler should this AFC West team fall shy of a playoff berth this year.
Not only did San Diego have a 17-6 lead in the fourth quarter but they had successfully shut down Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald (finished with just one catch for 22 yards) and pretty much bottled up the high-octane Cardinals’ attack at every turn. Still, a botched center/quarterback exchange out of the shotgun formation on a key third-down play – it was all QB Philip Rivers’ fault! – forced the Bolts out of field-goal range and enabled ‘Zona to post an 11-play, 91-yard TD drive that beat ‘em on  QB Carson Palmer pass to “beep-beep” WR John Brown. The Chargers would like to press the re-set button on that game and you wonder what the “hangover effect” will be here against a Seattle team that is – get this – 13-2 SU in its last 15 games overall and a dizzying 9-2 ATS in its last 11 games.

HOUSTON at OAKAND – 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS
So much for rookie QB David Carr being the Oakland Raiders’ “savior” right out of the proverbial starting gate! In last Sunday’s 19-14 loss-but-cover at the 6 ½-point home favorite New York Jets, Carr had his moments while passing for 151 yards and touchdown strikes to WRs Rod Streater and James Jones (the latter provided the backdoor cover) but all-too-often he had the deer-in-the-headlight looks as the silver-and-black converted on just 3-of-12 third-down plays and Oakland controlled the ball for just 25:10. If the Raiders believe this second-round draft choice is gonna be their answer in 2014, then beating a Jadeveon Clowney-less Texans’ team here is a must but we’ll remind you that Houston did collect three sacks of Washington QB Robert Griffin III and held the NFC East team to a single first-half TD a week ago in a 17-6 home win/cover.

THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL MID-WEEK UPDATE

Playoffs?

Sorry we don’t have Jim Mora Sr. to provide the still-hilarious soundtrack of his one-time rant when he was the head coach of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts but we do have “playoffs” in College Football this year and two teams that we implore you to watch are …

#9 USC – We’ve thought all along that if a team “back in the pack” of the polls can cop an early-season signature win than it could catapult into prime position for a run at the four-team playoffs and the Trojans’ gut-check 13-10 win at 3-point fav Stanford last weekend did just that. Now, you check out the sked and it may be that Steve Sarkisian’s crew could run the table right up to that November 22nd tilt at cross-town rival UCLA. Okay, so USC would still have to beat Oregon (the most likely Pac-12 North winner) in December. Hey, just the fact the Troy Boys have tossed their hat into the playoff ring ranks as a bit of a stunner, right?

#10 LSU – Maybe that epic come-from-way-behind 28-24 win against Wisconsin on Labor Day weekend will go down as the season’s most-important win for any college football team this year but take a look ahead on this Bengals’ schedule and even a road loss at Auburn or Texas A&M might not be enough to keep LSU out of top four at year’s end. No question LSU has a batch of teams to “climb over” on its run to a potential playoff berth but as long as a handful of high-profile teams get picked off between now and early December the Tigers have a legit shot. So, don’t sleep on either USC or LSU who could be back-of-the-pack type teams to make a playoff charge in Year One of the College Football Playoffs (a/k/a CFB).

On Thursday, it’s …

HOUSTON (1-1) at #25 BYU (2-0) – 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
Don’t look now but the BYU Cougars might be making the 30th anniversary season of their national championship a something special time in Provo.
The Coogs drilled Texas 41-7 last weekend as BYU quarterback Taysom Hill scored three rushing touchdowns including a high-hurdle job that really rubbed salt into the Longhorns’ many wounds.

If Hill – who totaled five TDs in BYU’s season-opening 35-10 win/cover against 14 ½-point dog UConn – can be spot-on here than these Cougars will be in line to cover the haughty 18 ½-point price tag.

Note that last year Houston QB John O’Korn aired three TDs and 3 INTs in a wild 47-46 non-cover win by BYU.

Spread Notes – BYU has covered back-to-back season-opening games at UConn and at Texas and did you know the Cougars have covered six of their last eight home openers? On the flip side, Houston is 0-2 versus the vig to start off this here-and-now season with spread setbacks against UT-San Antonio and Grambling State. However, Houston did register a snazzy 5-1 ATS mark as underdogs last year.

NOTE: More NCAA Football Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez!

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