NFL Week 16: The NFC South Plus More Bowls

THE NFL WEEK 16 SKED ROLLS ON THIS HOLIDAY WEEK – AND WE’RE SEEING WHO’S NAUGHTY AND WHO’S NICE IN THE NFC SOUTH …

PLUS THE COLLEGE BOWL BONANZA CHECKS OUT MORE FRIDAY/SATURDAY ACTION

Hope you’ve gotten all your holiday shopping done ‘cause we’re all gonna be really busy the rest of this week watching -- and winning! -- a whole bunch of NFL and College Football Bowl Games.

The NFL Week 16 card is jam-packed with great matchups (note there’s nine or 10 games where the pointspread’s five points or less) and we’ll preview the two all-important NFC South showdown games right here in today’s Jim Sez column in just a sec plus there’s more College Football Bowl Bonanza goodies too, but first this key reminder:

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Don’t forget all the daily/nightly action on the hardwood too as there’s NBA and NCAA Hoops action all winter long right here with Jim Hurley’s Network.

NFL WEEK 16

On Saturday, it’s …

ATLANTA (9-5) at CAROLINA (6-8) – 1 p.m. ET, Fox

Gotta give these Atlanta Falcons mucho credit as Dan Quinn’s club really has snapped out of it following the Week 12 bye – heck, if Kansas City S Eric Berry didn’t bring back a faulty QB Matt Ryan two-point conversion pass for two points for KC, this Falcs bunch would be riding a four-game winning streak heading in here and now the “Atl” guys look for the season sweep over the defending NFC champion Panthers (see 48-33 win/cover as 3-point home dogs back in Week 4 play). The here-and-now “Dirty Birds” have made due the past two weeks without injured WR Julio Jones (72 receptions for 1,253 yards) but he’s very much needed here against a steadily-improving Carolina secondary.

Spread Notes – Atlanta is a rock-solid 9-5 ATS (against the spread) this year and did you know the Falcons are 6-1 vig-wise away after having gone a composite 9-15 ATS away the past three years? Carolina, meanwhile, is 5-8-1 spreadwise in this post-Super Bowl season and the Panthers are a collective 20-13 against the odds as dogs the past four-plus seasons.

TAMPA BAY (8-6) at NEW ORLEANS (6-8) – 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

Hope the time change here from 1 p.m. ET to later in the afternoon won’t spoil your Christmas Eve plans – we’re sure they do somewhere in the good ole U.S.A.! In any event, the Saints are seeking a little payback after a painful 16-11 loss in Tampa Bay just two weeks ago when a pair of QB Drew Brees passes were dropped that would have been touchdowns. Brees and Company really frolicked in the desert last week with 389 passing yards and 4 TDs (and how about 33 first downs for the Saints!) and now they can really put a major dent into the Bucs’ post-season hopes here – if you watched Tampa Bay QB Jameis Winston closely last Sunday night in that 26-20 loss-but-cover in Dallas than you know he never quits but everyone could do without his head butts, eh?

Spread Notes – Tampa Bay’s covered its last six consecutive games and overall the 2016 Bucs are 9-5 ATS (note they were 20-28 ATS the past three years). New Orleans is 8-5-1 spreadwise this season including a shaky 2-4 ATS mark as betting favorites.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWLS

On Friday, it’s …

ARMED FORCES BOWL 

Amon G. Carter Stadium – Fort Worth, TX

LOUISIANA TECH (8-5) vs. NAVY (9-4) – 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Prior to the 21-17 loss a couple of weeks back, you gotta go all the way back to 2001 to find the last time the Navy kids lost to Army – and that year the Midshipmen finished 0-10. Now, Ken Niumatalolo’s club looks to bounce back from that rivalry game loss here with a third-string quarterback and lots of banged-up parts – no wonder Louisiana Tech’s gone from an opening-line price of minus 3 points to 6.5. If Techster QB Ryan Higgins (4,208 yards passing for third-best in the country along with 37 TDs) gets into a rhythm here, watch out!

Spread Notes – Louisiana Tech is 8-5 against the odds overall this year and that included a mid-season six-game ATS winning streak. Note the Bulldogs have covered all four of their bowl games since the 2008 campaign. Navy, meanwhile, is 8-5 ATS this season and the Middies have covered their last three straight bowl tilts.

DOLLAR GENERAL BOWL

Ladd Pebbles Stadium – Mobile, AL

OHIO (8-5) vs. TROY (9-3) – 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

The local flavor here is provided by a Troy team that only lost by 6 points at 5-TD fav Clemson way back on Sept. 10th plus recognize the fact the favored Trojans were once upon a time 8-1 SU (straight-up) before fading a bit down the stretch. Second-year boss man Neal Brown’s club is banking on star RB Jordan Chunn (1,232 yards rushing and 13 TDs) to tote the rock 30-or-so times in this clash against an Ohio team that had unbeaten/college football darling Western Michigan on the ropes in that recent 29-23 loss-but-cover to the WMU Broncos in the Mid-American Conference game.

Spread Notes – Troy’s a dead-even and vig-losing 6-6 against the odds this year but note the Sun Belt Conference club is just 9-14 ATS as the chalk the past four years. Ohio is 7-6 spreadwise this season; the Bobcats are 3-4 ATS in bowls the past 10 years under head coach Frank Solich.

On Saturday, it’s …

HAWAII BOWL

MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE (8-4) at HAWAII (6-7) – 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Hey, we know there’s a chance that you’ll be channel surfing between this bowl bash and the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals vs. Houston Texans game while wrapping last-second Christmas presents but keep in mind reports are MTSU will get QB Brent Stockstill (2,801 yards passing with 27 TDs) back under center for this clash in the 50th state and that figures to light up the atmosphere in Honolulu … but why exactly is Hawaii getting a bowl game after a losing record? Ohh, so they can fill some seats, we got ‘ya!

Spread Notes – Middle Tennessee State’s 6-5-1 ATS this year and a collective 10-14-3 ATS away the past four years while Hawaii is 5-7 vig-wise this year including a five-game spread losing skid heading into this bowl affair.

Note: There’s more NFL Week 16 and College Bowl stuff in the next Jim Sez.

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