THE NFL WEEK 17 PREVIEWS
THE NFL WEEK 17 PREVIEWS ROLL ON
THIS SPECIAL HOLIDAY WEEK/WEEKEND …
PLUS WE’VE GOT TWO MORE SATURDAY
BOWL GAMES WITH BOSTON COLLEGE-PENN STATE (THE PINSTRIPE BOWL) AND NEBRASKA-USC (THE HOLIDAY BOWL)
Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and are enjoying this festive time of the year but get this:
The beat goes on this holiday season with a slew of mega-important NFL Week 17 games on tap this final Sunday in December and here’s some preview action from Dallas-Washington and St. Louis-Seattle, so let’s dig deeper here into these two games:
DALLAS (11-4) at WASHINGTON (4-11) — 1 p.m. ET, Fox
The numbers don’t lie and they say if the Cowboys win here they’ll go a perfect 8-and-oh SU (straight-up) away this 2014 season and, boy, that’s a far cry from the composite 14-18 SU road record posted between 2010-14!
The ‘Boys are hoping to become the first NFL team to sweep their road games since those almost-perfect 2007 New England Patriots and the game plan here is twofold:
Try to crack the Redskins’ 10th-ranked rush defense (allowing 103.2 yards per game) with a bunch of totes by NFL rushing leader RB DeMarco Murray (1,745 yards rushing) and make sure the QB Tony Romo-to-WR Dez Bryant combo gets heated up early against a Washington defense that’s yielded 24 points in each of the team’s last three games and 49, 45 and 37 points in three other ‘Skin game this season.
Spread Notes — Dallas is a solid 9-6 against the odds this season but note the Cowboys are a composite 4-15 spreadwise in head-to-head showdowns with Washington while dating back to the 2005 season. Meanwhile, the Redskins own a 5-10 ATS (against the spread) mark this season and overall Washington’s 18-11 vig-wise in NFC East games since the start of 2010.
ST. LOUIS (6-9) at SEATTLE (11-4) — 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox
Maybe you heard NBC Sunday Night Football game analyst Cris Collinsworth utter those words in last week’s 35-6 Seahawks victory in Arizona … “nobody wants to be playing the Seahawks these days.”
Right you are, C.C., as Pete Carroll’s club is on a monster roll as we head into the final regular-season weekend of play and just check out the scoring defense the past five weeks when Seattle’s allowed 3, 3, 14, 7 and 6 points … folks, that’s a per-game yield of 6.6 points a game!
Throw into the mix the fact that Seattle QB Russell Wilson (3,236 yards passing and loads of key runs this year) — all of a sudden drawing MVP mention ‘round the land — and you do stop to wonder why Seattle is “only” a 12 ½-point betting favorite for this NFC West clash.
The Rams’ best hope to keep this one close:
Make zero turnovers (after St. Loo committed three turnovers in last week’s brawl-filled 37-27 home loss to the New York Giants) and make sure that oft over-hyped D-line starring Robert Quinn and Pitt rookie Aaron Donald keep Wilson smothered in the pocket and batten down the hatches against RB Marshawn Lynch (1,246 yards rushing with 12 TDs) who overcame an early-game upset stomach to wreck the Cardinals a week ago with one of the greatest tackle-busting touchdown runs we’ve ever seen.
Spread Notes — Seattle rides a five-game pointspread winning streak into this regular-season finale and note the Seahawks have covered five of their last six games when in the favorite’s role after going a wobbly 3-5 spreadwise as chalk to start the year. On the flip side, St. Louis is 7-8 spreadwise overall this season and the Rams are just 9-13 ATS as dogs the past two seasons (after posting an 11-3 ATS mark as pups back in 2012).
Extra, extra …
Get all the College Football Bowl Games continuing on with Friday’s tripleheader including Illinois-Louisiana Tech (Heart of Dallas Bowl), Rutgers-North Carolina (Quick Lane Bowl) and N.C. State vs. UCF (St. Petersburg Bowl) plus there’s Five (5) Bowls set for Saturday and plenty more next week — and get all the NFL Week 17 games too when you check with us here at Jim Hurley’s Network.
And, of course, make sure you’re all aboard for the NBA and NCAA Basketball daily/nightly winners all this week/weekend action either online here at www.jimhurley.com or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.
THE COLLEGE BOWL REPORT —
Here’s a look at the remaining two Bowl Games on tap for Saturday, December 27th (remember we previewed Saturday’s Military Bowl, Sun Bowl and Independence Bowls in the last edition of Jim Sez). We’ll cover Monday’s Three (3) Bowl Games in tomorrow’s weekend edition, so make sure you’re back with us for another football-filled column!
On Saturday, it’s …
PINSTRIPE BOWL -- at The Bronx, NY
BOSTON COLLEGE (7-5) vs. PENN STATE (6-6) — 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Maybe bowl games were “no big deal” in the Joe Paterno years but this bowl berth is very much a big deal for the here-and-now Penn State Nittany Lions — basically left for dead after the whole Jerry Sandusky sex scandal this born-again team rode the nation’s top rushing defense (84.8 yards per game) and second-best total defense (269.8 ypg) to six wins including triumphs over fellow bowl squads UCF and Rutgers.
First-year head coach James Franklin would have liked to see more consistent play from soph QB Christian Hackenburg (8 TDs and 15 INTs) as Penn State lost four different “one-score games” and there precious little punch coming from this Nittanies attack. If Hackenburg can’t flip the field here with some chunk pass plays, then Penn State’s likely sunk against 2 ½-point fav Boston College.
The Chestnut Hill gang lives and dies with the dual-threat play of QB Tyler Murphy (1,079 yards rushing and 1,526 yards passing) — he was the major factor in BC’s early-year 37-31 home win against 17-point fav USC and if Penn State’s defense doesn’t set the edge against Murphy here than Steve Addazio’s crew should roll … note Penn State leads the all-time series here 19-4.
Spread Notes — Penn State is 5-6-1 against the Las Vegas prices this year and the Nittany Lions are a rotten 2-8-1 ATS away since the start of the 2013 campaign. Meanwhile, Boston College is 8-4 against the odds this season but the Eagles have failed to cover five of their last six post-season bowl games while dating back to the 2006 season.
HOLIDAY BOWL — at San Diego, CA
NEBRASKA (9-3) vs. #24 USC (8-4) — 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Two of the country’s most preeminent gridiron programs failed to live up to the preseason hype — remember USC was ranked #15 at the start of the season while Nebraska was ranked #22 — and so a byproduct of the Cornhuskers’ campaign that included losses to Michigan State, Wisconsin and Minnesota is that head coach Bo Pelini was axed.
Okay, so that move surprised more than a few folks in Nebraska but Pelini’s inability to even get the ‘Huskers to challenge for major bowls plus his fiery temper caused his demise and so interim boss Barney Cotton takes over here before former Oregon State head coach Mike Riley takes over for real right after this bowl game.
Happy to say the USC coaching carousel finally ended — after Lane Kiffin, Ed Orgeron and Clay Helton formed a three-ring circus of coaches last year, Steve Sarkisian steered the ship in 2014 but close losses to Boston College, Arizona State and Utah really dampened the year but here the Troy Boys are solid 7-point betting favorites thanks in large part to unsung QB Cody Kessler (3,505 yards passing with 36 TDs and 4 INTs).
No doubt the ‘Huskers will be shadowing top USC pass-catcher Nelson Agholar (97 catches for 1,223 yards and 11 TDs) but good luck keeping him in check.
Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah (1,523 yards rushing and 18 TDs) was in our Jim Sez Heisman Trophy Watch List for a good chunk of this 2014 season but a sprained left knee has hampered Abdullah and so watch for his movements here — if he’s cuttin’ and jivin’ early than USC could be on the ropes late.
Spread Notes — USC enters this tilt at 7-5 against the odds this year but did you know the Trojans are a snazzy 6-2 ATS in bowl games the past 10 years? On the other side of the coin, Nebraska’s also 7-5 spreadwise this season, but the Cornhuskers are a dead-even 4-4 ATS in bowls the last 10 years and Big Red is 8-2 vig-wise away the past two years.
NOTE: Get more NFL Week 17 Previews in tomorrow’s Jim Sez including Sunday Night’s Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers clash plus we’ll also bring you Monday’s Three (3) Bowl Games too!
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