Weekend Wrapup and MNF & World Series Previews
PEYTON MANNING’S RECORD-BREAKER TD THROW LEADS THE NFL WEEK 7 KEY STORYLINES
PLUS THE MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PREVIEW/FORECAST AS TEXANS-STEELERS COLLIDE
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT: FLORIDA STATE SURVIVES ITS 31-27 WIN OVER ND
OUR WORLD SERIES PREVIEW: GIANTS VS. ROYALS AND EVEN THE ODDSMAKERS ARE VEXED
As it turned out, the single-best bet this past football weekend was made by the guys/gals who went “over” 2.5 touchdown passes thrown by Denver Broncos’ QB Peyton Manning (okay, so you had to lay - 160, but no sweat!) in Sunday Night Football’s 42-17 rout by the home team over the hapless San Francisco 49ers.
Manning got his NFL record-breaking 509th career touchdown pass with 4:21 remaining in the first half - a dart-like 8-yard strike to WR Demaryius Thomas - and then proceeded to play “monkey-in-the-middle” while his wide receiver pals tossed around the record-breaking football in jest.
As it turned out, Manning wound up throwing another scoring strike for good measure (he finished with those four TDs and 0 INTs) in the blowout win and the man he surpassed - Brett Favre - happily tweeted in-game congratulations to Mr. Manning.
Okay, so maybe a major chunk of the NBC audience tuned out at halftime or shortly thereafter (the Broncos did score 21 unanswered third-quarter points) but the record was secure and now Manning continues his chase for a second Super Bowl crown.
And wouldn’t it be a pip if the NFL’s new all-time career touchdown chucker wound up squaring off this February with the Dallas Cowboys ... hey, we could well be headed in that general direction!
While the Broncos partied hard with their win that also featured the aforementioned D. Thomas (see 8 catches for 171 yards and two TDs) and sack meisters DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller (five combined sacks from those dudes), the 6-1 ‘Boys were busy banging out their sixth straight win and they had their own record-breaker in RB DeMarco Murray who became the first player in league history to begin a season with seven consecutive 100-plus yard rushing games.
We salute Murray with his 28 carries for 128 yards and one TD in the 31-21 win/cover against the 5 ½-point underdog New York Giants but the bigger news here is that Dallas didn’t suffer any post-Seattle letdown and yappy WR Dez Bryant really stole the show as he caught nine balls for 151 yards and shredded the G-men every time they single-covered him ... what kind of strategy was that, NYG?
Meanwhile, hope you got to see the NFL’s “Red Zone” channel around 4 p.m. ET on Sunday as Washington, Buffalo and Detroit all scored late in their games to snag home wins - hey, the drama was incredible in the closing moments and don’t look now but those aforementioned Bills and Lions have winning records these days though it sure looks like it’s time to blow things up in New Orleans, Atlanta and Chicago as those teams are letting their respective seasons slip-slide away from ‘em.
Our own rumor mill says this: Don’t be shocked if there aren’t some coaching staff changes in New Orleans (are you listening DC Rob Ryan?) and Atlanta (OC Dirk Koetter) sometime in the next 48 hours!
We’ll dig into a couple of other NFL Week 7 key storylines in just a second plus get you’re the MNF preview/forecast of the game between the Houston Texans at the Pittsburgh Steelers but first this key reminder; My handicappers and bloggers have everything all mapped out for tonight’s Texans-Steelers game and you can get the winner when you check with us here at Jim Hurley’s Network at the toll-free # of 1-800-323-4453 or right here online. Get all the NCAA Football, NFL Week 8 and World Series game-by-game winners as the San Francisco Giants battle the Kansas City Royals beginning Tuesday night at “The K” and don’t miss a beat! Go ahead and bash the books all week long with America’s #1 Handicapper!
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PREVIEW
HOUSTON (3-3) at PITTSBURGH (3-3) - 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
This marks the first part of the Steelers’ three-game home stand that also includes dates with Indianapolis and Baltimore the next two weekends ... but is that necessarily good news for Mike Tomlin’s team?
After all, the Steelers have split their first two home games this year - a non-cover 30-27 win against Cleveland and that fateful 27-24 loss in Week 4 versus Tampa Bay - but maybe after some off-the-field criticism from the likes of former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher (Tomlin called it “elevator music”) the fact remains that this here-and-now Steelers team is rough around the edges and needs QB Ben Roethlisberger to get hot in a hurry.
Roethlisberger’s been sacked 17 times already - the second-highest amount in the NFL thus far - and so let’s see if the Steelers can keep him in an upright position this evening.
Spread Notes - Pittsburgh is just 2-4 ATS (against the spread) so far this season and note the Steelers enter this MNF game at just 9-14 vig-wise when playing non-AFC North foes. Houston, meanwhile, has notched spread wins in four of its first six games this season and the Texans are just 6-10 spreadwise as underdog sides the past two-plus seasons.
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT
Time for Notre Dame’s agitated head coach Brian Kelly to “chill” after predictably going haywire following that last-minute offensive pass interference call in Saturday’s 31-27 loss-by-cover at 9 ½-point fav Florida State - in fact by late Sunday there were ACC senior officials claiming that both C.J. Prosise and Will Fuller were blocking downfield when QB Everett Golson aired his potential go-ahead TD throw. So there!
Still, it was a true survive-and-advance win for the defending champion FSU Seminoles who pretty much were pushed all over the field in the game’s first 30 minutes - heck, the Irish ran off some 49 plays in the opening half and wound up with 87 plays from scrimmage against Florida State’s 57 offensive plays - but in crunch time there was troubled QB Jameis Winston making the diff again with his 273 passing yards and two TDs.
Winston led the ‘Noles to touchdowns on three of their first four second-half drives and let’s just say he found a true gem target in true freshman WR Travis Rudolph (six catches for 80 yards) who was a great complement to mega-star wide-out Rashad Greene (8 catches for 108 yards including one great sliding reception late) who better start getting his own Heisman Trophy hype this week.
Are the ‘Noles one of the nation’s four-best teams at this very moment?
Tough to say only because we’re convinced two things: One, Notre Dame is - indeed - lots better than advertised but still probably not a Top 5-type team and, number two, there’s little doubt in our minds that right now there are three SEC West teams better than Florida State (that’s Miss State, Ole Miss and Alabama, of course) even though we all know - or think we know -- only one of those SEC West teams will be getting into the ring for this four-team playoff in January.
Okay, you twisted our arm and so here’s our “final four” at this time with conference affiliations not part of the mix:
#1 Ole Miss vs. #4 Michigan State
#2 Florida State vs. #3 Miss State
WORLD SERIES PREVIEW
Here’s the burning question as we head into the World Series featuring the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals ... is it really good for Major-League Baseball to have a pair of wild card teams battling for all the marbles?
Hey, we can see out-the-door MLB Commissioner Bud Selig laughing all the way to the bank!
As the ESPN folks have been telling us this week, it will be the first-ever World Series between teams that won fewer than 90 regular-season games in a non-strike season but - as all sports have discovered in recent years - it just really matters whether you can get into the post-season because than anyone can get hot, hot, hot.
And nobody’s hotter than the Kansas City Royals who are a perfect 8-0 in post-season play and just check out the profits that Kansas City’s piled up ... here’s their game-by-game post-season results with everything based on a $100 per-play wager (note home teams are in CAPS below):
|9-30||ROYALS||+ 106||9-8 (12 inn)||A’s|
|10-2||Royals||+ 177||3-2 (11 inn)||ANGELS|
|10-3||Royals||+ 148||4-1 (11 inn)||ANGELS|
|10-10||Royals||+ 107||8-6 (10 inn)||ORIOLES|
So, anyone that wagered a “buck” a game on the Royals this post-season is a plus $953 - but now the oddsmakers who originally put this one in a pick ‘em class has moved Kansas City to the slightest of betting favorites (- 120) and you get the sense the number-crunchers are a tad uncomfortable having the Royals as the favs and not the Cinderella in this World Series.
The formula of making this a “six-inning game” remains intact here for the Royals and their often under-siege manager Ned Yost who counts on Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland to hang onto the leads late but the Giants’ bullpen regained its mojo in that NLCS five-game win against St. Louis - there’s plenty of lefty specialists that Giants manager Bruce Bochy can go to for one batter late that could determine the outcome here.
Go ahead and talk about how the Giants didn’t hit many post-season home runs until that dramatic Travis Ishikawa three-run blast to give SF the pennant last Thursday night - maybe that means C Buster Posey, 3B Pablo Sandoval and mates are “due” here
Meanwhile, Kansas City’s power surge in the post-season may not be as shocking as you might think even though KC did hit fewer than 100 regular-season home runs - the question here is can the Royals steal bases against this fundamentally sound Giants pitching staff (and Posey) and what happens if/when that Herrera/Davis/Holland triumvirate finally blows a game?
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