NFL Week 8 Kicks Off With Denver Win



Call it what you will when it comes to QB Peyton Manning and his now 6-and-1 Denver Broncos:

The beat goes on … Same old, same old … okay, so you get the idea.

Last night Manning clicked off career touchdown passes 511, 512 and 513 – all to WR Emmanuel Sanders – as the Broncos battered 9-point road underdog San Diego 35-21.

For you pointspread lovers, note that the Chargers had entered this prime-time affair having gone 8-0-3 vig-wise in their last 11 games in Denver, so that streak was stopped but the bigger news is that Manning – who threw for 286 yards but ended the night a tad angry at teammates/fans for a sloppy ending – had shrugged off the so-called “short week” and slam-dunked a divisional foe that exited the night with back-to-back losses.

Any doubt who’s king of the AFC West these days?

Meanwhile, there’s a “theme” to the rest of our Jim Sez column today...We’re only talkin’ up the head-to-head matchups that sport teams with winning records and so when you scour down the NFL Week 8 games on this October weekend you see there’s just three of ‘em:

In the early time slot at 1 p.m. Eastern, we’re checking out Baltimore at Cincinnati, then the 4 p.m.-to-4:25 p.m. ET time slot features a pair of big-time games in Philadelphia at Arizona and Indianapolis at Pittsburgh.

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Here’s some of what we’ll be watching come Sunday and remember we will have more NFL Week 8 Previews/Forecasts in tomorrow’s edition of Jim Sez including the Sunday Night Football game between the Green Bay Packers at the New Orleans Saints:

BALTIMORE (5-2) at CINCINNATI (3-2-1) – 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Go figure. When the Cincy Bengals went into Baltimore and downed the Ravens 23-16 in Week 1 action, it sure appeared that this was gonna be a special season for Marvin Lewis’ squad.

Don’t get us wrong – it still could be – but the Bengals are oh-for-October with a pair of losses and that messy 37-all tie with Carolina and now Cincinnati is desperately hoping star wide receiver A.J. Green can play here after a painful toe injury sidelined him for the team’s last two games.

Green’s numbers against the Ravens include 343 yards receiving and three scores in the last three tilts versus Baltimore and, let’s face it, if Cincy QB Andy Dalton (sacked five times during this three-game winless streak) doesn’t have his top target on hand here for this critically important AFC North game than Baltimore can not only avenge that TD loss in Week 1 but could start to make the division a runaway.

One X-factor to eyeball here: If Cincinnati LB Vontaze Burfict (neck) doesn’t go here or is limited with his snaps, then Baltimore’s post-Ray Rice born-again ground game could have a field day starring RB Justin Forsett (206 yards rushing the past two weeks).

Spread Notes – Baltimore is 5-2 ATS (against the spread) this season and the Ravens own a 34-25-3 spread log away since the start of the 2008 campaign. Cincinnati started off this season on a three-game spread winning streak but now the Bengals have lost their last three consecutive ATS verdicts.

PHILADELPHIA (5-1) at ARIZONA (5-1) – 4:05 p.m. ET, Fox
Think about this for a moment: The Eagles and Cardinals played for the NFC Championship back in the 2008 season – QB Kurt Warner and ‘Zona snagged the 32-25 mild upset home win back then but ever since these clubs have combined for a grand total of one SU win in the post season:
Arizona 51, Green Bay 45 (in overtime) back in the 2009 NFL post-season.

So, not only do both of these one-loss teams have major goals of digging deep into this year’s Super Bowl chase, but the here-and-now goal is to stay on course for having a home game or two this post-season.

In some ways, who would have thought a pair of 5-and-1 teams would be meeting here at the site of Super Bowl 49 considering Philadelphia couldn’t run the ball worth a lick until RB LeSean “Shady” McCoy got hot with that 22-carry, 149-yard game in the 27-0 whitewash win against the Giants back in Week 6 (the Eagles had a bye last weekend) and that’s a major improvement after McCoy was averaging just 2.9 yards a carry through the season’s first five games.

On the flip side, Arizona is leading the NFC West these days even though starting QB Carson Palmer has played in only two games this year – a shoulder/nerve injury kept him sidelined following Week 1 until last Sunday’s 253-yard, two-TD showing in a 24-13 win/cover at 3.5-point home dog Oakland.

Can Palmer make it through the whole game here … and will Philly decide to make the forward pass with QB Nick Foles their top option versus the league’s top-ranked rush defense?

Spread Notes – Philadelphia’s covered four of its first six games this year and overall the Eagles are just 5-9 ATS as underdog sides while dating back to the start of the 2012 season. Meanwhile, Arizona also is 4-2 vig-wise this year with covers against the New York Giants, San Francisco, Washington and Oakland – note the Redbirds are 7-4 ATS as hosts under second-year head coach Bruce Arians.

INDIANAPOLIS (5-2) at PITTSBURGH (4-3) – 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS
Speaking of one-time Indianapolis QB Peyton Manning, his heir Andrew Luck ain’t doing too badly these days either!

Luck – who last weekend completed 27-of-42 passes for 344 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-0 win against 3 ½-point underdog Cincinnati – has thrown for 300-plus yards in five consecutive games and that just so happens to tie Manning for the longest streak in franchise history.

Better yet for the Colts, their defense has taken to a starring role as well … note that Indianapolis has allowed just 75 total points during this current five-game winning streak (held four-of-five opponents to 17 points or less) and they’re piled up 20 quarterback sacks while ranking numero uno in the league in third-down conversion defense.

So, what’s gonna be up the Steelers’ black-and-gold sleeves here just days after Mike Tomlin’s team scored 24 points in a 2:54 span late in the second quarter in that wacky 30-23 MNF win/cover against Houston?

Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger (265 yards passing with two TDs and 0 INTs in that tilt) is trying to get this attack to be more consistent – maybe the NFL’s ninth-ranked ground game starring RB Le’Veon Bell must chew yards/clock here and keep Mr. Luck on the sideline but we will remind y’all that the Steelers have alternated SU (straight-up) wins/losses right from the start of this 2014 campaign and so right now they’re “due” for a loss.

Spread Notes – Nobody’s hotter spreadwise these days than the Indy Colts who’ve covered their last five consecutive pointspread decisions and so the AFC South squad enters this tilt at 6-1 ATS overall this year and 10-2 ATS since late last season. On the flip side, Pittsburgh’s 3-4 vig-wise this year and note the Steelers are just 10-14 ATS in non-divisional games the past two-plus seasons.

Hope you caught our Jim Sez College Football Previews in the past two columns … now here’s a sprinkling of other games this Saturday involving Top 25 teams:

#1 MISS STATE (6-0, 3-0 SEC) at KENTUCKY (5-2, 2-2 SEC) – 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Did you ever really think you’d see the day when the Miss State Bulldogs would be a two-TD road favorite over anybody in the Southeastern Conference?

Well, in case you’re just catching up with College Football here in late October, the fact of the matter is the M-State Bulldogs already have covered hefty pointspreads such as 30.5 (against Southern Miss) and 14 points (at South Alabama) but as sixth-year Dawgs boss Dan Mullen has been saying this week, “We’re going into this game with a target on our back.”

If State QB Dak Prescott – our Jim Sez frontrunner right now in this year’s Heisman Trophy chase – can continue to gauge out big gainers with his physical runs and spot up open receivers against Kentucky’s pass defense that ranks a solid 15th nationally, then State will have another survive-and-advance game here.

TEXAS TECH (3-4, 1-3 Big 12) at #10 TCU (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) – 3:30 p.m. ET, Fox
Believe it or not, the TCU Horned Frogs are now the Big 12’s highest-rated team following last weekend’s rollicking 42-9 win over 10-point pup Oklahoma State – now we’ll see if the pass-catch combo of QB Trevone Boykin-to-Josh Doctson can light up the skies against a Texas Tech team that has surrendered 35-or-more points in five different games this year.

TEXAS (3-4, 2-2 Big 12) at #11 KANSAS STATE (5-1, 3-0 Big 12) – 12 p.m. ET, ESPN
Can Kansas State get itself into the “conversation” for this year’s College Football Playoff? QB Jake Waters was the do-everything man in last week’s 31-30 win against 7-point fav Oklahoma as he threw for 225 yards and rushed for another 51 yards. A big win and big numbers game here against the up-and-down ‘Horns and Waters will start to get Heisman Trophy love.

NOTE: More NFL Week 8 Previews/Forecasts in tomorrow’s Jim Sez including the Sunday Night game between Green Bay at New Orleans … so don’t miss out!


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