Jim Sez Friday NFL and College Update Plus NLDS
COLTS' "GOLDEN OLDIES" KO TEXANS 27-20 PLUS MORE NEWS & NOTES INCLUDING DO-OR-DIE WEEKENDS FOR THE CHIEFS, EAGLES & BILLS ...
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEKEND UPDATE ...
OUR NLDS PREVIEWS: IT'S CUBS-CARDINALS, METS-DODGERS
By Jim Hurley:
Gotta think that prune juice and not Gatorade is the sideline choice of drink for these 3-and-2 Indianapolis Colts. The old folks - namely 40-year-old fill-in QB Matt Hasselbeck and 32-year-old WR Andre Johnson -- were indeed "golden oldies" in last night's 27-20 win at 5-point betting favorite Houston and so Andrew Luck's ailing (separated?) shoulder gets another 10 or 11 days to rest before the Horseshoes get to play their high-profile Week 6 Sunday Night Game versus the New England Patriots.
Hasselbeck's 213-yard passing, two-TD, no-INT game was mere brilliance while Johnson snagged a pair of scoring strikes while haunting his old mates - and may we be among the first folks to let the woe-be-gone Texans (1-4) know that this 2015 season is officially shot.
Nice job with these quarterbacks, guys, as crybaby Ryan Mallett and career backup Brian Hoyer - okay, so the latter was a whole lot better than the former while throwing for 312 yards with two TDs last night - never should have exited training camp with a first-string job attached to their names. Maybe it's not too early for Houston to start scouting TCU's Trevone Boykin or maybe USC's Cody Kessler although the Troy Boy was no bargain either in last night's 17-12 loss to the University of Washington.
Fact of the matter is Houston head coach Bill O'Brien is a real dud ... but is that really "breaking news"?
Jim Hurley's Handicappers and Bloggers have everything all mapped out for a big-time winning week and it continues with tonight's College Football action between Southern Miss at Marshall (on CBS Sports Network) and N.C. State at Virginia Tech (on ESPN). Get the winners here plus all the other NFL Week 5 and NCAA Football and all the Major-League Baseball Playoffs too when you check with us on game days either here online or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 - make this an October to remember! There's plenty on the menu this week/weekend including Saturday's college card that features such monster matchups as #23 California at #5 Utah, Miami at #12 Florida State, South Carolina now at #7 LSU (game switched from Columbia to Baton Rouge) and #2 TCU at Kansas State. Plus the NFL Week 5 is chock full of goodies including Seattle at Cincinnati, New England at Dallas and the Sunday Nighter between San Francisco at the New York Giants.
In other NFL Week 5 News & Notes ...
Have we - already - reached a do-or-die game for a batch of NFL teams as we head into the "second quarter" of this here-and-now 2015 season? We say "aye" - now just follow along:
KANSAS CITY (1-3) - Gotta admit it, we thought the Chiefs were Super Bowl-bound at the start of this current campaign but instead Andy Reid's team has botched one key divisional home game (see Week 2 versus Denver) and it failed to crack the end zone despite a gazillion trips into the red zone in last week's 36-21 loss in Cincinnati as PK Cairo Santos boomed seven FGs but KC scored zero TDs.
Up Next - The Chiefs host 9.5-point underdog Chicago on Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium and if QB Alex Smith and Company can't score TDs against a Bears bunch yielding 31.2 ppg then it's time to wave the white flag!
PHILADELPHIA (1-3) - Just prior to the start of this season we noticed that the Eagles were grabbing lots of money in the "Odds to Win it All" category with some books even shaving down Philly's odds to 7-to-1 to win Super Bowl 50 but here we are a month into play and the Birds are averaging less than 20 ppg, high-priced RB DeMarco Murray has 47 yards rushing (a whopping 1.6 yards per carry) and Philadelphia's buried in the basement of the way-too-mediocre NFC East. Quite frankly, it's put-up-or-shut-up time for third-year head coach Chip Kelly who - by the way - is being mentioned in some parts as the possible next head coach of the Texas Longhorns.
Up Next - The equally desperate 1-and-3 New Orleans Saints invade "The Link" this Sunday and does this Las Vegas price tag of Philly -4.5 points look a tad "short" to you?
BUFFALO (2-2) - Hold on, you say, how can we here at Jim Sez claim this week's Bills' game in Tennessee is "do-or-die" stuff? Well, consider Rex Ryan's crew already has lost a pair of home games versus New England and the New York Giants and the Week 6 menu has Buffalo hosting the still-unbeaten Cincinnati Bengals. No doubt the Bills' offensive playmakers have got to get healthy as RB LeSean "Shady" McCoy and WR Sammy Watkins have contributed just 146 yards rushing and 99 yards receiving, respectively, this season but can Ryan get a grip on a club that just last week committed 17 penalties in that 24-10 loss to the Jints?
Up Next - The Bills are 2.5-point favs at Tennessee and now we'll see what this at-time overrated Buffalo defense does with rookie QB Marcus Mariota.
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEKEND UPDATE
Memo to the remainder of the FBS universe ... this 2015 season is not just about the Ohio States, TCUs, Baylors and Michigan States of the world. There's been some real great storylines coming from some rather unlikely places as we'll detail a refreshing look at some on-the-go programs.
Let's start with the Temple Owls (4-0, 1-0 American Conference) who - get this - might be one win and some help from being part of next week's Associated Press Top 25 rankings (right now the Owls are listed fourth among the "Others Receiving Votes") providing Temple can KO 16-point road dog Tulane. Hey, the Owls already have banged out wins against Penn State and Cincinnati and there's plenty of folks in Philly keeping fingers crossed that Matt Rhule's club will be 7-and-oh SU (straight-up) by the time it gets to play host to Notre Dame on Halloween Day. P.S. Rhule might be a neat fit at Maryland for the soon-to-be-deposed Randy Edsall.
Meanwhile, what about the Cal Golden Bears (5-0)? Sure, we hyped their Saturday showdown at #5 Utah in one of our Jim Sez columns earlier this week and we made reference to the fact that ESPN's College GameDay crew will be tracking a Cal game for the first time in years but dig a bit deeper and you see third-year head coach Sonny Dykes really has changed the culture in Berkeley and no surprise that the aerial game has been the key with Heisman Trophy hopeful QB Jared Goff off and wingin' (see 1,630 yards passing and 15 TDs). If Cal can snag the upset here in Salt Lake City - the potent Utes are 7-point betting favorites at press time - than you might want to consider the #23 Bears in the playoff mix at year's end.
Finally, how about some national love for the #22 Iowa Hawkeyes (5-0)? Year #17 in the Kirk Ferentz Era has been a blast so far with wins against the likes of Iowa State, Pittsburgh and Wisconsin and have you noticed that quarterback C.J. Beathard has thrown only two INTs in his team's first five games while this no-name defense has yielded just 15.4 points per game while ranking 11th nationally against the rush? It's been a while since Iowa football was considered "relevant" but a Homecoming Day win this weekend against 10.5-point underdog Illinois could get the 'Eyes thinking more and more about copping the Big Ten West (they are tied with Northwestern right now with a date against the Wildcats on tap Oct. 17th).
The National League Division Series starts today ...
CHICAGO CUBS (98-65) at ST. LOUIS (100-62) - Game 1, 6:45 p.m. ET, TBS
Are any home teams gonna win a playoff game this year? So far it's been road-team madness with both of the American League Game 1 visitors snapping up Thursday wins and now we'll see if the beloved Cubbies can whack out a series-opening win here behind LHP Jon Lester (11-12, 3.34 ERA) who - among other things - doesn't hold on baserunners very well and might get a tad distracted should the Redbirds start getting some traffic on the baselines. Ask us about this best-of-five series and we'll tell you St. Loo's league-leading pitching staff with a tidy 2.94 ERA must silence 1B Anthony Rizzo and kid OF Kyle Schwarber (a combined 47 dingers) when facing righty starters John Lackey (Game 1 starter), Michael Wacha (Game 3 starter) and Lance Lynn (likely Game 4 starter, if necessary).
NEW YORK METS (90-72) at LOS ANGELES DODGERS (92-70) - 9:45 p.m. ET, TBS
Raise your hand if you believe the New York Mets - close to a 2-to-1 betting underdog in this series - "blew it" by not capturing the home-field advantage. Last week the Mets sported a 2-game lead (and the tie-breaker) over the Dodgers but instead of gearing up with a big final push, manager Terry Collins' club fell asleep at the wheel and so Games 1, 2 and Game 5 (if necessary) will be played on the left coast where the suddenly-slumping NYM bats will face LHP Clayton Kershaw (16-7, 0.88 WHIP) and righty Zack Greinke (19-3, 0.84 WHIP) in all three of those games ... gulp! Major pressure to get to the Fall Classic for Dodgers' manager Don Mattingly - will he wilt under the late-game heat and will that wobbly LA bullpen get mission accomplished?
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