More NFC/AFC Championship News & Notes
MORE NFL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
NEWS & NOTES PLUS WE WEIGH IN
ON ALL THE COACHING CHANGES …
COLLEGE HOOP NOTEBOOK
Once upon a time a good pal who used to work for one of NYC’s major newspapers – remember them? – told us that teams sporting the longest pointspread winning streaks heading into NFL Championship Game Sunday normally wind up “winning it all” and back then in the early-to-mid 1980s we found that to be true.
Will that be the case now in the 2016 season?
Well, let’s delve into matters here and start with the NFC Championship Game between the #4 seed Green Bay Packers at the #2 seed Atlanta Falcons:
The Packers enter Sunday’s 3:05 p.m. ET kickoff on a raging eight-game SU (straight-up) winning streak but we’re only talking pointspread streaks here and GB’s covered four in a row including those back-to-back playoff tilts against the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.
Meanwhile, the Falcons have won five in a row SU – only loss since mid-November was that freaky 29-28 home setback against Kansas City – but check out the spread stats and you’ll see Atlanta covered last week in the NFC Divisional Playoff tilt against Seattle but failed to cover that regular-season finale against New Orleans (maybe the biggest backdoor cover job by any NFL team this year as the Saints were down 38-13 heading into the fourth quarter) in a 38-32 non-cover win.
Flip it around to the AFC Championship at 6:40 p.m. ET between the #3 seed Pittsburgh Steelers and the #1 seed New England Patriots -- let’s start with the Steelers:
Pittsburgh’s won nine in a row SU dating back to mid-November but the ATS (against the spread) winning streak for the Steelers only stands at two in a row … the aforementioned playoff wins/covers against Miami and Kansas City as the NFC North champs failed to cover their final two regular-season games.
New England, meanwhile, is the king of the hill when it comes to current pointspread winning streaks as Bill Belichick’s guys have covered six in a row including last week’s 34-16 triumph over 17-point underdog Houston in an AFC Divisional Playoff Game and the Pats enjoy an eight-game SU winning streak heading in here.
So, the Pats – utilizing this formula – should be the Super Bowl LI champs when all’s said and done.
We’ll soon see if the spread streak theory works in the modern age.
Get the Side & Totals of this Sunday’s NFC and AFC Championship Games when you check with us here on game-day morning at Jim Hurley’s Network.
Cash in with winners on Green Bay at Atlanta and Pittsburgh at New England -- 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.
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NFL COACHING CHANGES
Once again, it’s been a busy few weeks when it comes to NFL head coaching changes and – as we’ve done in recent years – we’ll take a quickie time out from the games to present some quick-hitter comments on the league’s coaching carousel:
BUFFALO (7-9) –
Out: Rex Ryan (and interim Anthony Lynn)
In: Sean McDermott
There’s been nothing but positive reviews regarding this long-time defensive coordinator (most recently in Carolina) but gut feeling is we would’ve liked to see the Bills tab an offensive-minded coach. Still, anything to get the Ryan brothers out of town was a plus!
DENVER (9-7) –
Out: Gary Kubiak
In: Vance Joseph
No doubt the Broncos are gonna have to navigate some old off-the-field issues regarding their new head coach (see early 2000s alleged sexual misconduct at the Colorado University) but once that gets ironed out this should work out as Joseph was most recently the DC with the Miami Dolphins and he’s “paid his dues”.
JACKSONVILLE (3-13) –
Out: Gus Bradley
In: Doug Marrone
Marrone coached the Jaguars in their final two games – both pointspread wins, mind you – and he now gets to work hand-in-hand with new executive Tom Coughlin but count us among the folks that thought J’ville should make a pizzazz pick here … like why not New England OC Josh McDaniels if he wanted the gig?
LOS ANGELES RAMS (4-12) –
Out: Jeff Fisher (and interim John Fassel)
In: Sean McVay
The NFL’s youngest head coach (soon-to-be 31 years old) comes with glowing reviews from his days as the Washington Redskins’ offensive coordinator and this is a “glitz pick” but good luck shaping up kid QB Jared Goff and this lackluster offense.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (5-11) –
Out: Mike McCoy
In: Anthony Lynn
Guess this somewhat glorified long-time running backs coach (with four different teams) and brief offensive coordinator with Buffalo became a “hot item” in recent weeks as he was first rumored to replace Ryan full-time with the Bills until the Chargers slipped in and signed ‘em. An exciting choice for the relocated Bolts? Hardly!
SAN FRANCISCO (2-14) –
Out: Chip Kelly
In: Kyle Shanahan (to be named when Atlanta Falcons’ season ends)
Not sure this sharpshooter offensive mind should hang his hat with this loser franchise but when the musical chairs ended this is the lone seat open. Now, here’s a piece of advice for the know-nothing Niners: Let the guy coach a handful of years (at least) before you think about firing ‘em because this does represent SF’s fourth head coach in as many years.
COLLEGE HOOP NOTEBOOK
In case you hadn’t noticed this here-and-now College Basketball season, there are some “name teams” that have shown major slippage including Duke (14-4, 2-3 ACC) and Indiana (13-6, 3-3 Big 10) – and don’t use any their excuses that both teams are “very young” because the last time we checked just about every major-college team out there is “very young” plus the current absence of Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski (recent back surgery) hasn’t been a major impact. Maybe both the Blue Devils and the Hoosiers can heat up before too long but right now we see both high-profile clubs on the outside-looking-in come Sweet 16 time this year. We’ll see.
Other quick-hitter NCAA Basketball notes …
Has any team shown more road gumption than this Notre Dame team (16-3, 5-1 ACC)? True, Mike Brey’s club fell a bit short in Wednesday’s 83-80 loss-but-cover at 5.5-point fav Florida State but count ND a team-to-watch come this year’s NCAA Tournament. In short, they play like a team with great ball movement and great grit …
Finally, looking for an off-the-beaten-path team to make hay come tourney time in March? You might want to check out the Illinois State Redbirds (15-4, 7-0 Missouri Valley Conference) who currently have a RPI rank of #26 and sport the country’s 15th-best defense while allowing just 62.2 points per game.
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