The Countdown for Super Bowl LI -- Just a Week Away
THE NFL REPORT:
WE'RE ONE WEEK OUT FROM SUPER BOWL LI AS PATRIOTS-FALCONS MATCHUP GROWS NEAR - WHAT TO WATCH WHEN ATLANTA HAS THE BALL..
COLLEGE HOOPS WEEKEND GOODIES
Let's face it ...Aside from those usual "personal stories" that gobble up newspaper/internet space such as how folks like Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn and New England WR Chris Hogan have made it to this point, the fact of the matter is this week-before-the-Super-Bowl is always a real yawner.
Everyone - and we mean everyone - wants to get to Super Bowl LI as soon as possible but the reality is it's a waiting game through this weekend when both teams will touch down in Houston for the start of the "festivities".
If there's anything of real import from these past few days it's whether or not Falcons C Alex Mack (lower left leg injury) and WR Julio Jones (toe) can be close to 100 percent by game time after nursing those "hurts" while the flip side says the Patriots' young defense probably needed every second in the day to digest the video footage of how best to handle this high-octane Atlanta offense.
It all gets "real" in a couple of days, so sit tight and let us do all the studying/research that's brought Jim Hurley Network customers SEVEN (that's 7) consecutive NFL post-season wins these past two weekends. Enjoy the Pro Bowl in the meantime, okay?
Jim Hurley - America's #1 Handicapper - will have the Sides & Totals Winners of Super Bowl 51 when you check with us on game-day morning plus go ahead and continue to pile up the profits all this week/weekend with loads of NBA and NCAA Basketball winners right here online or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 - go ahead and pound the books today!
SUPER BOWL 51 - Sunday, Feb. 5 At NRG Stadium - Houston (TX)
NEW ENGLAND (16-2) VS. ATLANTA (13-5) - 6:30 p.m. ET, Fox
WHEN THE ATLANTA FALCONS HAVE THE FOOTBALL - Just as we made the case in yesterday's edition of Jim Sez that the New England Patriots run the ball more than folks thought - 27 NFL teams threw the ball at higher percentages than the Pats this past regular season - the same is the case here with the 3-point underdog Falcons.
The knee-jerk reaction is to believe Atlanta throws the ball as much as anyone in the league but the regular-season numbers showed that's not true. In fact, the Atlanta passing play percentage stood at 57.6 percent and that ranked 22nd in the NFL (note that Baltimore threw the ball a league-leading 66 percent of the time this year) and so you know what we're gonna say:
Sure, QB Matt Ryan (730 yards passing with 7 TDs and 0 INTs this post-season) is gonna chuck it plenty but there had better be a ground presence here for the NFC champs who - we believe - need RBs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman (a combined 173 yards rushing this playoff season) to make some chunk plays via the ground route and expect quick-hitter traps and draws to be utilized some 15-to-20 times here in an attempt to slow up the Patriots' pass rush.
No question Ryan is playing at a monumentally high level and ditto for WR Jones (see 180 yards receiving and two TDs in NFC Championship Game 44-21 win against Green Bay) but it's the plays that fellow pass-catchers WRs Mohamed Sanu, Taylor Gabriel and the tight ends Austin Hooper and Levine Toilolo make - or don't make - on third down that probably spells the difference as to whether or not the Falcons win their first-ever NFL championship.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL WEEKEND UPDATE
Is this final weekend in January gonna be as rough on the ranked teams as was their Monday-through-Friday?
Heck, #1 Villanova, #2 Kansas, #4 Kentucky, #6 Florida State and #8 UCLA each lost this past week - and some by resounding point totals! - and no question there's a possible "upset alert" sounding here when it comes to the likes of #9 North Carolina (note the Tar Heels are at Miami on Saturday) and maybe even 'Nova again come Sunday (the defending champs host #12 Virginia - dare we say the best defensive team in the land).
Obviously, college hoop nuts are all caught up in the Kansas vs. Kentucky showdown (Saturday at 6 p.m. ET) that's been hyped to the max but if you want to check out a couple of "sleeper games" this winter weekend then check in on Saturday's Maryland at Minnesota game and Sunday's Big 10 tilt between gotta-have-it Michigan at Michigan State.
P.S., providing Gonzaga beats 22.5-point home pup Pepperdine on Saturday night, the Zags figure to be #1 in the polls come Monday morning.
NOTE: Catch up with our Monday edition of Jim Sez as we creep closer to Super Bowl 51!