Jim Sez for Monday, Jan. 12 …

EXTRA, EXTRA:
COLLEGE FOOTBALL CROWNS
A CHAMPION TONIGHT AND WE HAVE
NEWS/NOTES ON #2 OREGON
VS. #4 OHIO STATE …
PLUS WE RE-CAP THE NFL DIVISIONAL
PLAYOFF GAMES AND LOOK AHEAD
AT PACKERS-SEAHAWKS & COLTS-PATS

Raise your hand if you think Year One of the College Football Playoffs has been a smash hit … gotta say we love it and sure hope they stay at four teams next year and in the seasons beyond even though the almighty dollar/the greed factor surely will force this to be an 8-team (or more) tournament before you know it!

Okay, so that’s a debate for another day as this evening the College Football world caps a fun-filled season with its championship game in Texas and the $64,000 question is this:

Does Ohio State (13-1) have enough speed to slow down Oregon (13-1) – even though the Ducks are more than a little short-handed here?
Oregon – a potent 6 ½-point betting favorite at last check – zoom into this title tilt riding a nine-game SU (straight-up) and ATS (against the spread) winning streak but keep in mind WR Darren Carrington is out after failing an NCAA-administered drug test and fellow WR Devon Allen (knee injury in Rose Bowl) also will miss this game and so Heisman Trophy-winning QB Marcus Mariota is without a couple of lethal weapons while Ohio State’s counting on QB Cardale Jones who – remember – has thrown only 69 passes all year long.

Meanwhile, for all the chatter regarding Oregon’s high-octane offense we’ll remind you that the Ducks averaged 46.3 points per game this year while Ohio State’s averaged 45.2 ppg and the defensive stats are eerily similar as Oregon allows 22.5 ppg while the ‘Eyes yield just 21.2 points a game.

In case you’re wondering, College Football Bowl Betting Favorites are just 14-23-0 ATS (with one pick ‘em game) this year and Oregon is only 10-9 versus the vig against non-Pac-12 foes the past six years while Ohio State has covered 11 of its last 13 games when placed in the underdog role dating back to 2009.

What will game day bring to the master of the big game … that’s Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer?
And will Oregon’s second-year boss Mark Helfrich continue to roll the dice with his up-tempo offense or will he get a case of “stage fright” here?

Get tonight’s College Football Championship Game Side & Totals winners – and Sunday’s NFL Championship Game Sides & Totals Winners -- when you check with us and also continue to pile up the profits all this week/weekend long with NBA and NCAA Basketball winners right here online at www.jimhurley.com or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.

THE NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS –
AND WHAT’S STRAIGHT AHEAD

Time to re-cap all the just-completed weekend action in the NFL Playoffs … let’s zip beginning with the AFC games:

AFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS –
NEW ENGLAND 35, BALTIMORE 31 – On a weekend when underdogs grabbed the loot in three of the four games, here’s one that nonetheless pained Ravens’ backers.

Hey, how else can the AFC’s #6 seed look at things after blowing a pair of 14-point leads and allowing a trick play to turn the tide as the WR Julian Edelman-to-WR Danny Amendola 51-yard scoring strike actually tied the game at 28 late in the third quarter but it swung major mojo in New England’s favor and Baltimore was forced to settle for a PK Justin Tucker 25-yard FG when three plays from inside the 10-yard line failed ‘em.

Okay, so maybe the Pats didn’t exactly display stout pass defense at the corners – CB Darrelle Revis didn’t have a good game – and maybe New England didn’t show exactly how you run out the clock at game’s end (can you imagine if that QB Joe Flacco pass connected for a TD on the Hail Mary chuck?) but the Pats did survive a pair of two-TD deficits and now move on to a fourth consecutive conference championship game.

Still, New England surrendered a whopping 428 yards to the Flacco-led Ravens and the Pats’ pass rush was abysmal (no sacks).

INDIANAPOLIS 24, DENVER 13 – The media folks were absolutely clammering for Broncos’ QB Peyton Manning to tell them he was “hanging ‘em up” after this dismal home loss but the Hall-of-Fame-to-be signal-caller said he had to “process” the defeat before making any announcement.

Meanwhile, how come none of the know-it-all media types were asking Broncos brain trust folks if they thought that maybe it wasn’t a great idea for offensive coordinator Adam Gase to be interviewed for FOUR different jobs this past week or that defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio should have spent more time game-planning for the Colts instead of prepping for those interviews with the Oakland Raiders.

Hey, we don’t need to be a Manning “apologist” here – the guy was awful with those early-game deep throws and the stat line didn’t lie as he threw for a hollow 211 yards with one TD -- but sure didn’t look like John Fox’s assistants were on board here as the Broncos did nothing but toss quick-hitter passes that went nowhere while the defense allowed that eight-plus minute drive in the fourth quarter that all but sealed things with PK Adam Vinatieri capping the 13-play march.

Meanwhile, don’t talk to us about Manning’s arm strength because he overthrew targets with deep balls three times in the first quarter alone – the Broncos were flat city and Indianapolis does deserve a hunking share of the credit as the Colts’ secondary was stout, the tackling was excellent and QB Andrew Luck – yes, he got his “signature win”, didn’t he? – was masterful when he had to be with 265 yards passing and two TDs and how about a round of applause for that oft-shuffled Indy O-line that was stupendous against a Pro Bowl-laden defense!

What’s Next – This Sunday’s AFC Championship Game appears to be all-advantage to New England from the fact that it’s in Foxboro where the Pats lost one game this year (the meaningless Week 17 bash against Buffalo), there’s the extra prep day/heal-up day for the Pats and head coach Bill Belichick surely is in a been-there, done-that mode as this is his ninth AFC Championship Game while Colts’ head coach Chuck Pagano is making his first trek to a conference title game. The Pats have been installed as the early 7-point betting favorite but note that New England’s actually 3-11 spreadwise in its last 14 post-season games.

NFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS –
SEATTLE 31, CAROLINA 17 – No doubt the major images that jump out at you from this past Saturday’s post-season bash in Seattle was Seahawks’ S Cam Chancellor and his two leaps to block field goal tries (missed one, committed a penalty on the second) then that end-to-end 90-yard “pick six” that sealed up the verdict in this game that did have you scratching your head about a few different things like …

Why was Seattle’s ground game so silent aside from that one noisy 25-yard bumper-car run by RB Marshawn Lynch (see 100 total yards rushing on 28 carries by Lynch/QB Russell Wilson/RB Robert Turbin) and why – as Fox game analyst John Lynch kept reminding us – didn’t Carolina throw more in the direction of Seattle back-up CB Tharold Simon who stepped in for an ailing Byron Maxwell and clearly had his hands full with Panthers’ rookie WR Kelvin Benjamin (see 7 catches for 75 yards and two TDs)?

Maybe QB Cam Newton (246 yards passing with 2 TDs and 2 INTs) and Company might have had a real “puncher’s chance” late had Carolina exploited that Benjamin-on-Simon matchup but all we do know is Seattle became the first defending Super Bowl team to win a playoff game since the 2005 Patriots and you could make the case that the Seahawks are peaking now more than they did in last year’s playoffs … and isn’t that a scary thought?

GREEN BAY 26, DALLAS 21 – Gee, there’s so many directions to go in this NFC Divisional Playoff Game but let’s first-and-foremost vent a bit:

The ruling to overturn the fourth-quarter leaping catch by Dallas WR Dez Bryant might have been “letter-of-the-law” correct but, boy, it sure stinks.

If you examine the replay a gazillion times, you do indeed see Bryant momentarily losing control of the ball while attempting to stretch forward for a touchdown (yes, he shouldn’t have concerned himself with that but what are you gonna do?) but isn’t he already down when his forearm not cradling the football hits the ground?

Surely there’s plenty of sentiment that the Cowboys lived by an official’s call and then died by it (see last week’s controversial win against Detroit/this Bryant fiasco) but this is no way to rule with any common sense and just hate the fact that we’ve already had two playoff games where zebras/replay officials have altered the possible outcome.

Look – just as the Lions didn’t overcome the non-pass interference call in the wild card game in Dallas, the Cowboys had their shot to force a three-and-out and change matters here at Lambeau Field but didn’t do so and therein lies the rub with “America’s Team” and that’s the defense – the soft underbelly of this team all year long – didn’t make it happen at crunch time as Green Bay scored on three different second-half possessions and the ‘Boys didn’t get enough negative yardage plays against a hobbled QB Aaron Rodgers (316 yards passing with 3 TDs) who often had all day long to survey the field and pick out receivers.

True, Green Bay WR Davante Adams (7 catches for 117 yards and one TD) came out of the blue to burn Dallas a bunch of times but it has to kill the Cowboys that they limited WR Jordy Nelson to a pair of catches for 22 yards and Rodgers didn’t/couldn’t burn ‘em with his legs thanks to that much-hyped calf injury.

Heck, even the weather cooperated for the Cowboys who didn’t have to play an “Ice Bowl II” type game – although Dallas QB Tony Romo (15-of-19 for 191 yards passing and two TDs) simply has to win those games in which he doesn’t throw an interception and Dallas is operating against an injured Rodgers.

Looks like the Ravens were not the only road team to let one slip away on this playoff weekend.
What’s Next? – The Seahawks are a solid 7 ½-point betting favorite for Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the Packers and the gut feeling is that price will grow even though Rodgers has another week of “recovery time” as Seattle has the home game, the extra day and the more pliable quarterback too. If you’re looking for an early-bird X-factor here, than check out how Green Bay tackles as some shoddy plays led to the WR Terrance Williams 38-yard catch-and-run score and there were some shabby arm tackles on RB DeMarco Murray (123 yards rushing) too.

NOTE: Lots more NFC and AFC Championship Game Previews/Notes in the coming days right here at Jim Sez.

 

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