More Sunday NFL Previews

WE CHECK IN ON COLTS-JAGS, TEXANS-GIANTS AND THE STEELERS-PANTHERS ON SUNDAY NITE

Is it simply too early in this 2014 NFL season to claim it’s already “do-or-die” time for many teams?

Well, if you’re the Indianapolis Colts and/or the New Orleans Saints or the New York Giants and you’re 0-2 SU (straight-up) out of the starting gate, than, no, it’s truly do-or-die time right now!

In today’s weekend edition of Jim Sez, we’ll touch on the aforementioned Colts and the Giants (we previewed the Minnesota at New Orleans game in the last Jim Sez article) and we’ll get you the Sunday Night preview too of the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Carolina Panthers in this chock full gridiron column.

The college kids are back on the gridiron today/tonight (Saturday) and Jim Hurley and his veteran Handicappers and Bloggers are all revved up for a monster weekend featuring a jam-packed Saturday card that includes Florida at #3 Alabama, Clemson at #1 Florida State and #4 Oklahoma at West Virginia. Plus there’s plenty more big-shot showdowns on the big board on this key September weekend!

And, yes, America’s #1 Handicapper is all revved up for another monster showing in Week 3 of NFL play – so make sure you’re banging out lots of winners all this weekend including San Diego at unbeaten Buffalo, 2-0 Houston at the New York Giants and the Sunday Night clash between the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Carolina Panthers. Plus there’s still lots to cash in too with Major-League Baseball as it heads down the final week-plus of this 2014 MLB regular season with a batch of meaningful games still on the daily dockets.

Check with us right here online for all the winning football, or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 any time after 1 p.m. Eastern time for weeknight action and after 10 a.m. ET for the Saturday and Sunday NFL. NCAA and MLB winners!

NFL WEEK 3 PREVIEWS

INDIANAPOLIS (0-2) at JACKSONVILLE (0-2) – 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Not often that we preview a game between a pair of 0-and-2 teams but, hey, the Colts were a pretty popular pick to get to Super Bowl XLIX in Santa Clara this year and losing your first two games out of the chute ain’t anyway to start!

Okay, so you can go ahead and blame the men in the striped shirts for last Monday Night’s 30-27 home loss against 3-point dog Philadelphia as there is no doubt Colts’ wide out T.Y. Hilton was yanked down on a pass play with Indy en route to going up two scores late but fate intervened, the Eagles intercepted the QB Andrew Luck pass and the rest – as they say – is NFL history!

Now, the Colts need to play a full 60 minutes here against albeit a mistake-prone Jacksonville team that’s been outscored 75-10 since getting off to that 17-0 halftime lead at Philadelphia back in Week 1 play.

The Colts know the stats – since 1970, only five of the NFL’s 197 teams that started 0-3 made it to the playoffs (that’s 2.5 percent) and none of the 0-3 teams has gone to the post-season since the 1998 Buffalo Bills.

Expect the Luck-to-Hilton combo to get heated up here in this AFC South road game but the $64,000 question is will Indianapolis RB Trent Richardson (two fumbles last game/one lost) hang onto the ball at crunch time?

Spread Notes – Indianapolis has covered its last three consecutive head-to-head showdowns with Jacksonville including that 30-10 win/cover as 10 ½-point home favorites to close out the 2013 regular season. The Colts are also a tasty 9-2-1 ATS (against the spread) versus fellow AFC South foes the past two-plus seasons. On the flip side, Jacksonville is 0-4-1 ATS overall dating back to late last year and the Jaguars are 3-11-1 vig-wise at home since the start of the 2012 season.

HOUSTON (2-0) at NEW YORK GIANTS (0-2) – 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Let’s just say these two teams know plenty about streaks: The Texans ended last year losers of their final 14 games but – like last year – are 2-0 SU to start things off in 2014;

The Giants started last year losing their first six games in succession (and by a per-game average of 17.8 ppg, no less!) and there’s major fear in Gotham City that Tom Coughlin’s crew won’t be able to avoid another titanic failure to start off ’14.

At the heart of the Giants’ problems is a minus 6 in the all-important turnover margin category and there’s still folks yapping in NYC about that fourth-quarter fumble lost last week by RB Rashad Jennings after catching an Eli Manning pass and then inexplicably losing his footing – and the ball – without a single Arizona defender in sight.

Meanwhile, Houston’s re-birth – back-to-back wins against Washington and Oakland – has featured a J.J. Watt-led defense that’s allowed just 20 points so far (not to mention Watt’s TD grab against the Raiders last week in that 30-14 victory) and it’s worth stating that these here-and-now Texans are a plus five in the turnover margin department after last week snaring two picks and getting two INTs against the beleaguered Raiders.

Spread Notes – Houston is 2-0 ATS so far this season as betting favorites after going 0-6 vig-wise as chalk sides a year ago. Overall, the Texans are 3-6-1 spreadwise when playing NFC teams since late in the 2011 campaign. On the flip side, the NY Giants are 0-2 ATS (or worse) for the third year in a row and the Jints have failed to cover six of their last nine home games.

On Sunday Night, it’s …
PITTSBURGH (1-1) at CAROLINA (2-0) – 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC

Hey, what would an NFL game these days be without a domestic violence storyline and here the news is that Panthers DE Greg Hardy has been “sacked” for an indefinite period of time while awaiting his jury trial on November 17th – remember last week Carolina waited till about two hours before kickoff against Detroit to announce he was deactivated for that Week 2 game but the NFC South squad finally “got it right” here.

Now, we’ll find out if his absence from the Carolina lineup allows Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger enough time to heat up with his pass-catchers – Roethlisberger completed 22-of-37 passes for 217 yards with one interception in that Thursday Night 26-6 loss in Baltimore in Week 2 play but the bigger problem for the Steelers was a defense that has allowed 712 yards in season-starting games against Cleveland and Baltimore.

The Panthers won Week 1 at Tampa Bay without the services of QB Cam Newton (ribs) and then powered past the 1-point dog Lions 24-7 last week as the former Heisman Trophy winner threw for 281 yards and one score. Now the Panthers shoot for their first 3-and-oh SU start since 2003 – their one-and-only Super Bowl appearance.

If there’s one X-factor to check out in this night-time affair, then watch the Carolina ground game that’s averaging just 3.1 yards per carry thus far – maybe some of those offensive line questions that popped up this past summer are gonna haunt the home folks here.

Spread Notes – Carolina’s looking for its first 3-and-oh pointspread start in more than a decade and the Panthers enter this prime-time tilt at 8-4-1 vig-wise as favorites while dating back to late 2012. Note that Pittsburgh is 0-2 ATS out of the gate this year after starting off last season 0-4 ATS – the Steelers are just 7-13 spreadwise in non-divisional games the past two-plus seasons but go back four years and you will see Pittsburgh’s covered 10 of its last 17 games played against NFC competition and that includes the 31-25 loss to 2 ½-point fav Green Bay in Super Bowl 45.

Here’s some other NFL Week 3 quick-hitter notes …

Green Bay (1-1) at Detroit (1-1) – Lions rookie PK Nate Freese missed two FGs in last week’s loss in Carolina … what if this NFC North game comes down to the wire and he needs to make a 45-yarder?

OAKLAND (0-2) at NEW ENGLAND (1-1) – Strange-but-true stat: The QB Tom Brady-led Patriots rank 27th in the NFL in passing offense while averaging just 184 yards per game.

SAN FRANCISCO (1-1) at ARIZONA (2-0) – Last week’s 28-20 Niners loss to Chicago in prime time “featured” 16 penalties for 118 yards against San Fran and overall the 27 flags against the 49ers this season is the most in the NFL. Some discipline from your troops, Mr. Harbaugh!

NOTE: Catch our NFL Week 3 game re-caps plus there’s the Monday Night Football Preview too – the Chicago Bears at the New York Jets – in the next edition of Jim Sez. Plus we’ll have all the important NCAA Football News/Notes from the weekend!

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