NFL SUNDAY WILD CARD GAME PREVIEWS
THE NFL REPORT
HERE'S THE SUNDAY WILD CARD GAME PREVIEWS
PLUS MORE #1 CLEMSON VS. #2 ALABAMA CHATTER AND COLLEGE HOOPS TOO!
It's the NFC's day when it comes to this weekend's Wild Card Round games and three of the last five Super Bowl representatives from this conference are in action here:
Seattle (see Super Bowls in the 2013 and '14 seasons) may be the #6 seed but you can't bumble/stumble your way through a half-hour sports talk TV/radio show these days without hearing lots of sentiment for the Seahawks getting to Super Bowl 50 next month in Santa Clara.
Meanwhile, Green Bay (see Super Bowl title in the 2010 season) was everyone's "flavor of the month" through that incredible 6-and-oh start but now most NFL experts consider the Packers a real long-shot to get to SB 50 after they lost six of their final 10 regular-season games.
Minnesota? The Vikings' last playoff win came in 2009.
Washington? The 'Skins have not copped a post-season win since 2005.
Get the Side and/or 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. Cash in with Chiefs-Texans and Steelers-Bengals on the Saturday menu; win with Seahawks-Vikings and Packers-Redskins on the Sunday card. And, of course, make sure you're all aboard for the NBA and NCAA Basketball daily/nightly winners all this week either here online 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 GAMES
On Sunday, it's ...
#6 SEATTLE (10-6) at #3 MINNESOTA (11-5) - 1:05 p.m. ET, NBC
It's a bring-your-long johns type game at TCF Bank Stadium in Minnesota - but then who's complaining?
After all, this is the Vikings' first home post-season game since 2009 (remember Minny 34, Dallas 3 inside the cozy Metrodome in an NFC Divisional Round game?) and so the frosty fans will bundle up against the alleged minus 20 degree "real feel temperature" and hope their NFC North champs can tough it on against a rampaging Seahawks' squad that has won six of their last seven games SU (straight-up) to rescue an otherwise forgettable 2015.
Okay, so things could get a little tricky here for Seattle: Veteran RB Marshawn Lynch is back on the field after missing seven games following sports hernia surgery in November and there's a million-and-one reasons why Seahawks' fans might want "Beast Mode" to stay on the sidelines here:
Consider Seattle QB Russell Wilson threw 24 TDs with only one INT in the above-mentioned seven-game stretch to end regular-season play and no question WR Doug Baldwin (14 TDs this year) was a superstar the past seven games when he registered 11 of those scoring receptions. Still, playoff history shows that when Lynch runs for 109-or-more yards, Seattle is 5-0 in post-season play.
If the elements are as bad as the meteorologists claim they'll be, then both Wilson and Minnesota QB Teddy Bridgewater (3,231 yards passing with 14 TD and 9 INT this year) might be spending the majority of time handing the ball off - or running themselves against a couple of really scary defenses but count us among the folks that believe Minny RB Adrian Peterson (NFL-best 1,485 yards rushing and 11 TDs) must get 25-or-more touches here after being held to a season-low 18 rushing yards in Seattle's rubout 38-7 win at Minnesota back in Week 13.
Want an X-factor here? Minnesota PK Blair Walsh nailed 34-of-39 field goals including hitting 12-of-15 from beyond 40 yards out ... might his "long leg" be the diff here against the two-time defending NFC champs?
Current Line: Seattle (- 4.5) and 39.5 points
Spread Notes - Minnesota is brilliant 13-3 ATS (against the spread) overall and did you know the Vikings are a composite 23-9 vig-wise under second-year head coach Mike Zimmer (that's a sizzling .719 winning percentage)? Also, Minnesota's a tasty 16-8 ATS when playing fellow NFC opponents the past two years. On the flip side, Seattle is 8-7-1 against the Las Vegas prices this 2015 season but a rather lukewarm 13-11 spreadwise as road betting favorites while tracing back to the start of the 2012 season.
Here's the last three head-to-head meetings between the Seahawks and the Vikings (note all home teams are in CAPS):
#5 GREEN BAY (10-6) at #4 WASHINGTON (9-7) - 4:40 p.m. ET, Fox
It's the proverbial elephant-in-the-room when it comes to this NFC Wild Card Playoff Game:
Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy - who's been the boss-man since 2007 - has coached the Packers in 13 post-season games in his career including, of course, that Super Bowl run back in the 2010 season (and that one started with a road win at an NFC East site as Green Bay bested Philadelphia 21-16) while Washington's second-year head coach Jay Gruden is in his "first rodeo" and he didn't exactly garner high marks as Cincinnati's offensive coordinator in previous playoff games for that franchise.
So, if McCarthy "worth points" here over Gruden or is the fact these teams enter the post-season in opposite directions the really big storyline?
Naturally, Green Bay's arrow-pointing-down last 10 weeks has cheeseheads near and far perplexed but going 4-6 SU since the club's October 25th bye week should be expected when your tattered offensive line doesn't block a soul, your WR Jordy Nelson-less pass-catching corps never gets "separation" and your star QB Aaron Rodgers plays with major fear in his heart.
On the flip side, here's the 'Skins who started off 3-5 SU this year and yet wound up untangling the messy NFC East by winning six of their final eight games with the hottest quarterback on the planet ... and you probably "benched" QB Kirk Cousins (11 TDs and 0 INTs in his last three games) in your little fantasy league, right? - and advice to the Packers' defense is smother TE Jordan Reed (29 receptions and 5 TDs in his last four games) in the red zone or McCarthy's men ain't gonna see a divisional round tilt.
Current Line: Green Bay (- 1) and 45 points
Spread Notes - Washington's 9-7 against the odds overall this year but the 'Skins own a shaky 10-14 ATS home mark dating back to the start of the 2013 season. Meanwhile, Green Bay is also 9-7 vig-wise this year but did you realize the Packers are 6-3-1 ATS in post-season games the past five years and a collective 7-3 ATS in their last 10 away games?
Here's the last three head-to-head meetings between the Packers and the Redskins (note all home teams are in CAPS):
|2013||GREEN BAY||- 7||Washington||38-20|
|2010||WASHINGTON||+ 3||Green Bay||16-13|
|2007||GREEN BAY||- 3||Washington||17-14|
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK
The College Football National Championship Game is Monday night in Glendale and - no shock here - the #2 Alabama Crimson Tide sport the major "big game" advantage having won national title games in the 2009, 2011 and 2012 seasons plus they were semifinal round playoff losers a year ago to eventual champion Ohio State.
#1 Clemson? Well, the Tigers entered the 2015 season having played in two "high profile" bowls in recent years (see the 2011 and '13 Orange Bowls) and so that New Year's Eve 37-17 playoff win against 3.5-point favorite Oklahoma really was the first time this ACC club was on "center stage" in a really long time. Will that matter come Monday night?
Well, Alabama boss-man Nick Saban and Company won't be rattled by the moment but - then again - ask around and you'll hear plenty of folks that know what they're talking up telling you this is his "least talented" national title contender in years while other in-the-know football folks claim Clemson's the most complete team in the land, head-to-toe.
We'll have an extensive National Championship Game Preview for you in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez - don't dare miss out - but first let's chuck some fun pointspread stats your way here:
Clemson is 22-11 ATS as underdogs since the start of the 2005 season and note the Tigers enter this prime-time bash having won/covered their last four consecutive bowl/playoff games while dating back to 2012.
Alabama is 64-50-1 ATS overall in the Saban Era that started back in 2007 (that's a very solid .561 winning rate) and note the Crimson Tide's closed out five of Saban's prior eight campaigns with a spread "W".
In NCAA Basketball News ...
The Big 12 stole the hoops world earlier this week with that monumental triple-OT game between #1 Kansas and #2 Oklahoma and there's plenty of great action in the league this weekend:
In fact, if you check out the current RPI rankings for the major-college teams, you'll see that #23 RPI West Virginia hosts Oklahoma State on this second Saturday of the New Year, Baylor is at Iowa State (the Cyclones have a #7 RPI) and Kansas State is at Oklahoma and the Sooners have a #3 RPI ranking at the moment.
Look it up and you'll find six teams from the Big 12 with RPIs of #23 or better - the others include Kansas (#4 RPI), Texas Tech (#6 RPI) and Texas (#22 RPI) and ask us right at this very moment and we think there could be a good chance you'll see as many as three Big 12 teams in the Elite 8 and a couple of Final Four squads. So, don't spit the bit, guys!
NOTE: Catch our College Football National Championship Game Preview in the next edition of Jim Sez.
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