The Jim Sez Midweek Report

THE JIM SEZ MID-WEEK REPORT –

OUR NFL TEAM-BY-TEAM WILD CARD NOTES PLUS THE FINAL NFL REGULAR-SEASON POINTSPREAD STANDINGS …

COLLEGE FOOTBALL’S NATIONAL TITLE GAME DRAWS NEAR …

AND COLLEGE HOOPS NEWS/NOTES ABOUT KANSAS AND OKLAHOMA

It’s been a question that’s come to the “front burner” if you will the past 48 hours …

Is there an NFL Wild Card team in the bunch that can advance all the way to Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara next month … wait, are there two Wild Card teams that could make it all the way to SB 50?

Naturally, you’ve all been hearing plenty of opinions from the “experts” ever since this weekend’s NFL Wild Card Round Playoff matchups were set – that’s Kansas City at Houston and Pittsburgh at Cincinnati in the AFC games this Saturday; Seattle at Minnesota and Green Bay at Washington in the NFC this Sunday – and no doubt there’s a growing sense that we could see one of this weekend’s teams get on a serious post-season run and so we’ll take a few minutes here to examine the team-by-team analyses with a quick reminder that we’ll have extensive Wild Card Game Previews tomorrow and Friday right here at Jim Sez:

 

AFC WILD CARD TEAMS

#3 CINCINNATI (12-4) – The Bengals probably dread any/all playoff talk after failing to win a post-season game in each of the past four years but check out our NFL Pointspread Standings below and you’ll find that there’s only one team that sported a better winning percentage spreadwise this year than these Cincy kids. Worth noting that the Bengals are just 4-3-1 ATS (against the spread) at home this year and an amazing 8-and-oh vig-wise away and so you do get the sense that even the QB Andy Dalton-led Bengals felt some heat in their own backyard … and all reports indicate Dalton (broken thumb) won’t be part of the action this Saturday night versus Pittsburgh.

 

#4 HOUSTON (9-7) – The Texans do storm into the post-season on a three-game SU (straight-up) and spread winning streak and they sport a real born-again defense having yielded only 22 total points in its last three games but did you know Houston’s 339 total points scored this year ranks as the lowest total of any NFL playoff team and this is a club that’s been forced to play merry-go-round with its quarterbacks – seven players in all have thrown passes for Bill O’Brien’s club this year! -- although QB Brian Hoyer (2,606 yards passing with 19 TDs and 7 INTs) is the unabashed numero uno man now at this position heading into Saturday’s late-afternoon tilt against Kansas City.

 

#5 KANSAS CITY (11-5) – In a season that saw Carolina win its first 14 games, it’s these KC Chiefs who right now own the league’s longest winning streak at 10 in a row and can we remind y’all that Andy Reid’s club has covered 7-of-10 games during this run. Note that the Chiefs are a solid 6-3 ATS away this year (that includes the 45-10 win against Detroit in London back in Week 8 play) and, despite the fact superstar RB Jamaal Charles was hurt back in Week 5, the Chiefs rank 6th in the NFL in rushing offense (127.8 ypg).

 

#6 PITTSBURGH (10-6) – So, the Steelers nailed down the final playoff berth in the SFC with last Sunday’s combo of a 28-12 win in Cleveland and Buffalo’s 22-17 win against the New York Jets but note overall there are only seven NFL teams that scored 100+ more points than their opponents this year and Mike Tomlin’s crew is one of those teams (423 points scored; 319 points allowed).

Overall, the Steelers are 8-6-2 versus the vig this year and that includes a spread split as road favorites – the role QB Ben Roethlisberger and mates will be in this Saturday night in Cincinnati.

 

Extra, extra …

Get the Side & Totals of this weekend’s NFL Wild Card Round games when you check with us here on game-day mornings 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 either online here at www.jimhurley.com or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.

Plus, the College Football National Championship Game is set -- #1 Clemson versus #2 Alabama on Monday, January 11th from Glendale … and we’re ready to put a capper on what’s been a great post-season with Side & Totals winners here!

 

NFC WILD CARD TEAMS

#3 MINNESOTA (11-5) -- All hail the Vikings who charge into the post-season on a three-game SU winning streak and owners of the best pointspread mark in the land at 13-3 … take a bow, coach Mike Zimmer! Still, here’s the Vikes as hefty 5.5-point home underdogs against the two-time defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks come Sunday afternoon and all we can say is Minnesota’s 8-2 vig-wise when playing non-NFC North foes this year and that’s nothing to pooh-pooh! Note that the Vikes rank fourth in the league in rushing offense (138.2 ypg) behind league rushing champ RB Adrian Peterson but if those “back spasms” are something more than a mere slight pain, then Minny’s stay in this “tournament” indeed will be short-lived.

 

#4 WASHINGTON (9-7) – How’s this for ironies: The ‘Skins enter the post-season on a four-game SU/ATS winning streak and that’s a longer winning streak than any other NFC team … funny but wasn’t it just a few weeks back where folks were saying the NFC East champ might be a team with six or seven wins? No question the emergence of QB Kirk Cousins (4,166 yards passing with 29 TDs and 11 INTs) has been the biggest story for Jay Gruden’s born-again bunch but if the D.C. crew is gonna keep the sliding Green Bay Packers down than sack specialists Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith and Chris Baker – see 23.5 sacks) must be on their games.

 

#5 GREEN BAY (10-6) – True, the Packers are not exactly steam-rolling their way into the post-season having lose two in a row and six of their last 10 games overall since that terrific 6-and-oh start but keep in mind Mike McCarthy’s gang covered 5-of-8 road games this year and sport a 6-3-1 ATS post-season mark the past five years. No doubt a worrisome part of the week here for Green Bay is that slumping/injury-riddled offense that has produced 16 points or less in half of the team’s last 10 games and can you believe you’d see the day where the Packers would rank 25th in the NFL in passing offense (just 218.9 ypg)?

 

#6 SEATTLE (10-6) – Maybe it was a “Super Bowl hangover” that kept the Seahawks bogged down for the better part of this here-and-now season but date back to Week 11 (a 29-13 home win/cover against San Francisco) and you’ll note that Seattle went 6-1 SU and 6-1 ATS and that included wins/covers against three fellow playoff squads (that’s Pittsburgh, Minnesota and Arizona). Pete Carroll’s club has yielded a per-game average of just 14 ppg during these last seven games … and something tells us 14 points from the Vikings this Sunday won’t be enough to exterminate the Seahawks here.

 

FINAL NFL REGULAR-SEASON POINTSPREAD STANDINGS

 

TEAM

WON

LOSS

TIE

PCT.

Minnesota

13

3

0

.813

Cincinnati

12

3

1

.800

Carolina

11

5

0

.688

N. England

8

6

2

.571

Pittsburgh

8

6

2

.571

Arizona

9

7

0

.563

Green Bay

9

7

0

.563

Houston

9

7

0

.563

Washington

9

7

0

.563

Denver

7

6

3

.538

Buffalo

8

7

1

.533

New Orleans

8

7

1

.533

NY Giants

8

7

1

.533

NY Jets

8

7

1

.533

Oakland

8

7

1

.533

Seattle

8

7

1

.533

Indianapolis

8

8

0

.500

Kansas City

8

8

0

.500

San Diego

8

8

0

.500

Chicago

7

8

1

.467

Jacksonville

7

8

1

.467

St. Louis

7

8

1

.467

Detroit

7

9

0

.438

Philadelphia

7

9

0

.438

San Fran

7

9

0

.438

Tampa Bay

7

9

0

.438

Atlanta

6

10

0

.375

Baltimore

5

9

2

.357

Cleveland

5

10

1

.333

Miami

5

11

0

.313

Dallas

4

11

1

.267

Tennessee

4

11

1

.267

 

THE COLLEGE NOTEBOOK

The #1 Clemson versus #2 Alabama showdown for this year’s College Football Championship is set for Monday night in Glendale and here’s a couple of quickie pointspread notes on both sides with a reminder our extensive game preview comes your way this weekend right here at Jim Sez:

 

#1 CLEMSON (14-0) – Believe it or not, the Tigers only beat two teams this year that went on to win their bowl games (see Appalachian State and Louisville) but Dabo Swinney’s crew gets high marks for registering a 5-3 ATS log against teams that played in bowls and Swinney-coached teams are also 5-3 ATS in Clemson’s past eight bowl appearances.

 

#2 ALABAMA (13-1) – The Crimson Tide’s 6-3 spreadwise in bowl/playoff game under ninth-year head coach Nick Saban and, in case you were wondering, those post-season spread losses came against Utah, Oklahoma and Ohio State. Overall, ‘Bama is just 26-25 ATS the past four years – hardly what one might think it would be based on all the success in Tuscaloosa.

 

Now, a quickie word on the College Hoops world …

This past Monday’s absolutely magnificent basketball game in Lawrence – that was Kansas 109, Oklahoma 106 in triple overtime – not only was a major shot in the arm for the sport that always stays in the background until football slows down but it showed that the elite teams in the sport are gonna make this a great March Madness.

Kansas was #1 in the writer’s poll; Oklahoma was #1 in the coaches poll while entering that epic game – Oklahoma G Buddy Hield’s 46 points was mind-boggling stuff (and yet the ESPN brainiacs didn’t even vote him “Player of the Game”!) – and if you tell us now these teams will be part of this year’s Final Four, we’ll be happy hoop campers.

Just one thing: We will be studying extra-hard as to whether or not to go against Kansas and Oklahoma in their next games – Kansas is at Texas Tech this Saturday; Oklahoma hosts Kansas State this Saturday in Norman.

How can the Jayhawks and Sooners not have “hangovers” here?

 

NOTE: Catch our AFC Wild Card Game Previews in tomorrow’s Jim Sez.

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