The NFC South: Football’s Best Division For Now
THE NFL REPORT: CAN THE NFC SOUTH GET THREE TEAMS INTO THE PLAYOFFS THIS YEAR?
COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S MID-WEEK NEWS/NOTES FEATURES OUR LATEST HEISMAN WATCH LIST
The NFC South owns more wins than any other division in the National Football League this year - 22 - and could indeed be in line to get three teams into this year's NFC Playoffs.
No doubt that Week 10 was a major coup for the NFC South as it won all four of its games - last Sunday it was Tampa Bay over the New York Jets 15-10, Atlanta over Dallas 27-7 and New Orleans crushing Buffalo 47-10 and then Monday Night the 8-point favorite Carolina Panthers blasted the Miami Dolphins 45-21.
Don't look now but the Panthers - a Super Bowl team just two years ago - are 7-3 SU (straight-up) and now just a half-game back of the N'Orleans Saints (7-2) atop the division and they were machine-like in the MNF affair.
Not only did QB Cam Newton play with a real enthusiasm and zest, he directed the Panthers to a franchise-record 548 offensive yards while throwing four touchdown passes and running for one other in the lopsided win.
Check it out: Carolina is now 6-4 against the odds this year and the Saints are 6-3 ATS while the defending NFC champion Falcons are 3-6 and the TB Bucs are just 2-6-1 vig-wise although the latter two clubs do come off pointspread wins in Week 10.
If the Panthers are gonna be in the post-season mix, then they still need to fix up this pass-catching corps - my goodness, they dropped way too many of Newton's passes on Monday Night and he still completed 21-of-35 for 254 yards - but it sure seems the Carolina ground game is comin' around with RB Jonathan Stewart truckin' his way to 110 yards on only 17 carries.
No doubt there's some decent divisions out there in the here-and-now NFL - the NFC North has three plus-.500 teams right now including 7-and-2 Minnesota - but right now the NFC South is wearing the crown for the "best" in the business but things ain't gonna be easy this Week 11:
Atlanta plays the MNF game at Seattle; Carolina has its bye week; New Orleans ventures out West for a big game at the Los Angeles Rams; and Tampa Bay plays that Week 1 "makeup game" at Miami.
Let's see if we're still calling the NFC South the best division in pro football at this time next week, okay?
Jim Hurley's Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have plenty of College Football and NFL Week 11 Winners (both the Sides & Totals) all week long in an uber-busy week on the gridiron. There's college games every night this week plus the NFL Week 11 docket swings into action on Thursday with a key AFC game between the Tennessee Titans at the Pittsburgh Steelers. And there's lots of NBA winners and College Basketball winners on tap as well. Check with us here online or 1-800-323-4453.
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COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS/NOTES
It's time for our weekly Jim Sez edition of the Heisman Trophy Watch List and - what do you know - we finally have a repeater on the top of the leaderboard!
The first three weeks we listed Stanford RB Bryce Love, Penn State RB Saquon Barkley and Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield as the first-place guys and our fourth week of Heisman talk has the Boomer Sooners star back in the top spot ... but this race for the shiny hardware is far from being over, folks:
BAKER MAYFIELD, QB, Oklahoma - Last week's 333-yard, 3-TD showing in a commanding 38-20 win/cover against 6-point underdog TCU was some of Mayfield's best work this year as he didn't toss a single pick plus he chipped in with 50 yards rushing. On the year, Mayfield has 3,559 yards passing with 31 TDs and only 5 INTs while completing 71 percent of his passes. Hey, Mayfield bounced back from a couple of tough hits against TCU and one case he was tossed into the sideline medical stand - and the cocky Mayfield came out the winner!
BRYCE LOVE, RB, Stanford - Give this dude an A+ for guts and grit. Hey, we were watching last Friday's 30-22 upset win against TD favorite Washington when Love tweaked his already-sore ankle on the Cardinal's first offensive play from scrimmage but that didn't hold 'em back as Love registered 166 yards rushing and 3 TDs as he was the heart-and-soul player for this stunning win on "The Farm". On the somewhat injury-riddled year, Love's stats include 1,622 yards rushing with 15 TDs and spiffy 9.0 yards per carry average.
JONATHAN TAYLOR, RB, Wisconsin - Okay, Badger fans, we've finally tossed your guy into the Heisman Watch List following last weekend's 157-yard rushing performance in the easy-as-pie 38-14 win/cover against 12,5-point pup Iowa. True, Taylor didn't score at all but he does own 12 TDs while rushing for a grand total of 1,525 yards (a haughty 7.0 ypc average) and he does star for a 10-and-oh Wisky bunch. Welcome to the Heisman chase, Mr. Taylor!
MINKAH FITZPATRICK, S, Alabama - We've kept the Crimson Tide's secondary star in our top five in all four weeks of Heisman Watch List chatter and not gonna move 'em out yet. Last week's six-tackle showing (four solo stops) in the ultra-tough 31-24 non-cover win against Mississippi State wasn't Alabama's finest hour on "D" but it was another strong showing for Fitzpatrick.
LAMAR JACKSON, QB, Louisville - He's baaack. Okay, so last year's Heisman Trophy winner has about a 2 percent chance of being this generation's Archie Griffin but that said the 'Ville superstar is fresh off a 3-TD passing performance in a 38-21 win/cover against two-TD dog Virginia and now check out the fact Jackson's season stats feature 3,003 yards passing with 21 TDs and 6 picks to go along with 1,176 yards rushing and 15 TDs (and a 6.6 ypc rush average).
Note: Catch our Thursday Night Preview of Titans vs. Steelers plus lots more in the next edition of Jim Sez.
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