The NFL Week 11 Newsmakers
CARDS, CHIEFS AND PATS ARE BIG WINNERS (AND SO ARE THE “UNDER” PLAYERS TOO!)
THE MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PREVIEW: WILL BIG BEN & THE STEELERS REBOUND IN NASHVILLE?
HOW WE SEE THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF RANKINGS COME TUESDAY NIGHT
Want to hear something funny?
Shortly before Sunday Night’s prime-time game between the New England Patriots at the Indianapolis Colts we noticed the “props rundown” on a wagering-related website and darn if they didn’t have projected numbers for just about everything from “over/under” receiving yards by Patriots WR Brandon LaFell to how many touchdown passes Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck would throw to whether or not there would be a defensive or special teams touchdown but not one mention of New England RB Jonas Gray. Hmmm.
Okay, so as you all know by now the Pats’ soft-spoken young back absolutely stole the show with his 199 rushing yards and four TDs - that’s more ground yards and more rushing TDs than anyone else in the National Football League registered in Week 11 play - and so maybe those web sites will include him in time for Sunday’s game versus Detroit.
Gray was the engine that powered New England’s lopsided 42-20 win at the 3-point favored Colts and it didn’t hurt that CB Darrelle Revis is back to being the #1 cover corner in all of football.
In fact, the Patriots - as NBC studio analyst Tony Dungy said following this whipping - are the top team in the AFC these days ... better than Denver ... and isn’t that something considering “experts” were quickly burying this team six weeks ago!
Gee, ‘ya think it’s time for the non-believers out there to come to their senses regarding the 2014 Arizona Cardinals and the Kansas City Chiefs?
Don’t know if it’s us but we’ve been hearing lots of folks lately say that these two teams “aren’t that good” and meanwhile the 9-and-1 Cards have not lost since October 5th (a 41-20 setback at Denver) as Bruce Arians’ club exited Sunday’s sweat-it-out 14-6 win/cover against Detroit with a sixth straight win while the Chiefs - a 24-20 winner against Seattle in Week 11 action - now have won five in a row and haven’t been toppled since ... you got it .. October 5th.
Okay, so maybe Arizona was aided and abetted by a couple of calls in that triumph over the Lions on Sunday - the Fox studio rules guru Mike Pereira even said he disagreed with that now-famous call of allowing the Cards to down a punt inside the one-yard line even though we’ve always been led to believe the ball was “live” and thus the Lions could attempt a return. Detroit’s return out to midfield was negated and the Lions had to start a drive at their own one-yard line. Doom.
Then there was the matter of that spot where WR Larry Fitzgerald hauled in what was called a first-down (and thus game-clinching) pass with just more than two minutes remaining in the contest. Maybe there should have been a better spot and/or even a measurement there but Arizona caught a break and simply played knee-down the final two minutes.
So, you think we’re in the business now of not cutting the Cards any slack and making ‘em seem less than a 9-1 team?
The fact is Arizona scored the game’s first 14 points and then held on as backup-turned-starting QB Drew Stanton threw his first two INTs of the season and even the masterful Arians realized that while he may not have Johnny Unitas in there subbing for the injured Carson Palmer, he still can win with what this team’s got, right?
As far as the Chiefs, well, consider this AFC West team was 0-and-2 out of the starting gate this year and they’ve gone 7-1 SU (straight-up) ever since and Sunday’s four-point triumph over Seattle featured elusive RB Jamaal Charles (20 carries for 159 yards and two TDs while he averaged an eye-popping eight yards a carry) and a great defensive stand by a Kansas City D-line that’s one of the best in the league.
So, here’s the Chiefs (7-3) now tied with the Broncos for first place in the division and yet you would think that from recent media reports everyone was just clearing out of town so Denver could make a return trip to the Super Bowl.
Hey, we knew the Patriots weren’t gonna go away despite the negative vibes a few weeks back, but can Joe Public now finally lay out some respect for the Cardinals and Chiefs?
After all, that right there might be your Super Bowl matchup in another 76 days!
And, yes, the “under” players had their day on Sunday even if Pats-Colts went “over” easily after a slow start - the “unders” finished the Sunday Week 11 action at 9-3 against the Vegas prices and that brings the season-long totals price record to Overs 81, Unders 78 with one push.
We’ll dig into a few NFL Week 12 key storylines later this week here at Jim Sez plus get you’re the MNF preview/forecast of the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Tennessee Titans in a moment but first this key reminder
My handicappers and bloggers have everything all mapped out for tonight’s NFL Week 11 tilt and you can get the Side & Totals winners (going for our third straight MNF Sweep!) 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 (once again there’s games every night this week beginning with a pair of Mid-American Conference tilts on Tuesday evening), NFL Week 12 starting with Thursday’s Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders bash and there are NBA/NCAA Basketball winners too as we roar through the month of November with another major hot streak.
MNF PREVIEW: PITTSBURGH (6-4) at TENNESSEE (2-7) - 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
And everything was going so well for the born-again Pittsburgh Steelers ... 30-, 51- and 43-point outputs in key wins from that three-game home stand ... until last week’s hard-to-explain 20-13 loss at the New York Jets.
So, Mike Tomlin’s club hopes to be in full bounce-back mode here and take note that the Steelers have followed up their three other losses this year with pointspread wins (go ahead, you can look it up!) and it all begins with QB Ben Roethlisberger who hasn’t been great at the start of the team’s road games.
In fact, Pittsburgh’s been outscored 88-26 in the first quarter of its away games and Roethlisberger figures to be given more line-of-scrimmage freedom here to check off and one thing he should check to plenty are runs for RBs Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount who might have a proverbial field day against a Titans’ defense that has surrendered an AFC-worst 4.53 yards per carry since early October.
Spread Notes - Pittsburgh is just 12-15 ATS (against the spread) as betting favorites since the start of the 2012 season while Tennessee’s 15-32-4 ATS overall the past three-plus seasons.
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL RANKINGS - HOW WE SEE THEM COME TUESDAY NIGHT
Memo to the viewing public: If you think you know what this week’s College Football Playoff (CFP) rankings are gonna look like -- #1 thru #6 -- we’ll betcha a cold soda pop that you don’t!
After one of the most exhilarating college football days in recent memory - just think about it as one undefeated squad (see Miss State) bumbled its way for much of the time and somehow still got the cover in a 25-20 loss at Alabama while another unbeaten in Florida State was on the ropes early and set to receive the “standing 8 count” before rallying back to win 30-26 in Miami - the CFP committee folks are tasked with handing out rankings and we know what you think: Alabama should be #1 now because the Crimson Tide beat #1 ...
TCU should fall out of the top four because the Horned Frogs were life-and-death en route to a 34-30 win at four-TD underdog Kansas ...And a few one-loss teams should pass Miss State right on by and leave ‘em in the CFP dust ... not gonna happen!
Here’s how we think the CFP committee folks should see it - which is a kind way of saying our way of seeing it:
1 - OREGON (9-1) ... The Ducks drew a bye on this wacky weekend and really became the biggest winners and one reason why is because the Pac-12 proved it’s tougher than advertised with previous #6 Arizona State falling in Corvallis and with #14 Arizona in a major battle versus Washington. The committee folks should reason that Oregon’ 6-1 in the second-to-best league in the land and that has to count for something really big, right?
2 - ALABAMA (9-1) ... Not so fast, our little Tusaclooa friends! True, ‘Bama has no lost since that first weekend in October I Oxford but we’re not ready to leapfrog ‘em all the way to the top. The important thing - of course - is that Alabama now “controls its own destiny” and only way Nick Saban nd Company isn’t part of the “Final Four” is if it somehow loses versus fast-fading Auburn or in the SEC Championship Game in which the Tide will be a double-digit betting favorite.
3 - FLORIDA STATE (10-0) - For those folks that believe the defending national champs should be anywhere else but third place in the rankings we’ll submit that both Oregon and Alabama have played better than the Sems over the course of the season’s first two-plus months but winning all their games keeps Jimbo Fisher’s crew ahead of all the rest. Meanwhile, for all the people who questioned the Las Vegas betting line for that one in Miami (and we were one of ‘em) how about the Noles being favored by 2 ½ points and winning by four? It’s only appropriate that Miami shanked a gimme field goal and had a PAT blocked considering all the ugly kicking history FSU’s had in this series, right?
4 - MISS STATE (9-1) - Okay, so get ready to hear ranting and raving from Fort Worth, Waco and Columbus too ... but look at it this way: The Bulldogs are one of a slew of one-loss teams now and that five-point loss at Alabama shouldn’t kayo Dan Mullen’s team from the big stage as Miss State’s beaten the likes of LSU and Auburn and the SEC West remains head-and-shoulder pads better than any other college division or conference. Okay, so QB Dak Prescott didn’t come alive till the game’s final 20 minutes but we’re inclined to make M-State’s fall from the top perch a “soft landing” here.
5 - BAYLOR (8-1) - Here’s our second bye team to actually upgrade its ranking while having the weekend off but the way we see things the Bears own that wild 61-58 win against TCU and the only loss is at West Virginia ... if TCU wanted to stay in the top four this past weekend then it shouldn’t have had to fight tooth-and-nail to beat 4-TD underdog Kansas.
6 - TCU (9-1) - Gary Patterson can sit at the microphones after games and make his team’s wins sound like stuff from the “Four Horsemen” days but really the Froggies should have handled their business better last weekend instead of having to roar back from a 10-point second-half deficit to win 34-30 and thus we’ve dropped TCU to the fringes here although we do put ‘em a notch above Ohio State.
Now, let’s if the CFP committee folks agree with us.
NOTE: Get our up-to-date Heisman Trophy Watch List plus lots of College Football News & Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez.
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