Colts & Saints Make Super Bowl

HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK

COLTS, SAINTS ADVANCE TO DREAM SUPER BOWL MATCHUP

by Mathew Hurley, Managing Editor

When Peyton Manning was a youngster, you know he dreamed of taking the New Orleans Saints to the Super Bowl. His father Archie was their quarterback at the time. You probably saw footage yesterday of little Peyton dressed in a Saints jersey and helmet throwing a ball.

In two weeks, he won't be representing the Saints, he'll be trying to beat them!

Indianapolis defeated the NY Jets 30-17 to win the AFC Championship Sunday afternoon. The New Orleans Saints earned their first trip to the Super Bowl with a 31-28 overtime victory over the Minnesota Vikings later in the day. JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK went 2-1 ATS on the day, winning both team sides but dropping the Under in the surprisingly high scoring Colts/Jets game.

Let's crunch the numbers and see what happened!

INDIANAPOLIS 30, NY JETS 17
Total Yardage: NY Jets 388, Indianapolis 461
Rushing Yardage: NY Jets 86, Indianapolis 101
Passing Stats: NY Jets 18-31-1-302, Indianapolis 26-39-0-360
Turnovers: NY Jets 1, Indianapolis 1
Points Scored on Drives of 60+ Yards: NY Jets 14, Indianapolis 23
Third Down Conversions: NY Jets 42%, Indianapolis 36%
Vegas Line: Indianapolis by 7.5, total of 39.5
Comments: This was far from the defensive struggle many expected. It's pretty fair to say few thought Mark Sanchez would pass for more than 300 yards...and there would have been skepticism about Peyton Manning throwing for 360 yards with no interceptions!

How did this become a shootout? The Jets opened things up early, using some misdirection and trickeration to take a 17-6 lead. Indy had to respond in kind in terms of style if not tomfoolery. Once the Colts had responded in kind...well then the Jets had to throw the ball to try and catch up. That led to a much more wide-open affair than pundits and computer projections had allowed for.

We always direct readers toward rushing, DRIVE POINTS, and third down conversions in the NFL. Indianapolis won two of the three, and DRIVE POINTS could have been even bigger but the Colts settled for three field goals. Amazingly, that's FIVE different scoring drives of 60 yards or more against the fabled Jets defense! Peyton Manning has spent the past several years shutting up detractors. Could there be any left after a game like this?

Rex Ryan gave fans a thrill, and TV pundits something to talk about the past few weeks. The Jets do have a bright future given their young quarterback and athletic defense. Just remember that his father Buddy Ryan seemed to have a bright future as a head coach at first too. Loudmouths really don't have a great recent history in the NFL. It's one thing to catch people surprise when expectations are low. It's another to thrive when 31 other teams have decided they're sick of listening to you.

Indianapolis heads to Miami (or, 'South Florida' as the league insists on calling it) to see if Peyton can add another Lombardi trophy to his case as he tries to catch Tom Brady in the chase for 'best ever.' They may have had a few ugly wins during the season. They may not have been as good as their won-lost record suggested when they were sitting at 14-0. They were definitely the best team in a disappointingly soft AFC, winning their playoff games by a combined 50-20 final score.

NEW ORLEANS 31, MINNESOTA 28 (in overtime)
Total Yardage: Minnesota 475, New Orleans 257
Rushing Yardage: Minnesota 165, New Orleans 68
Passing Stats: Minnesota 28-46-2-310, New Orleans 17-31-0-189
Turnovers: Minnesota 5, New Orleans 1
Points Scored on Drives of 60+ Yards: Minnesota 21, New Orleans 14
Third Down Conversions: Minnesota 58%, New Orleans 25%
Vegas Line: New Orleans by 3.5, total of 40
Comments: In our previews we outlined the possibilities for either team winning. If the Vikings team that played so sluggishly on the road at Arizona, Carolina, and Chicago showed up, New Orleans could coast to a victory. If the Saints team that stumbled through home losses to Dallas and Tampa Bay showed up, we could definitely see Brett Favre returning to the Super Bowl with an upset victory. What we hoped for as fans was that both teams would bring their best. Instead, both teams brought their worst!

Through three quarters of play, Minnesota kicked the ball around, lucky to recover more of their own fumbles than they had lost. New Orleans spent the afternoon mostly failing to take advantage of Vikings miscues...or failing to convert third downs before punting. We were tied at 21-all through three quarters, and neither team had the look of a champion.

Fittingly, Minnesota fumbled AGAIN. New Orleans took close to the goal line and managed to cash in the touchdown. 28-21 Saints.

A hobbled but valiant Brett Favre (overplaying the valiant angle to nauseating extremes) drove the Vikings down to the New Orleans 10-yard line before they FUMBLED AGAIN! Do these guys even know the fundamentals? Troy Aikman mentioned that the Vikings had done a good job during the regular season of avoiding turnovers, without mentioning they had played one of the easiest schedules in the league.

Minnesota would get another chance (because the Saints were virtually invisible offensively the whole second half). They would not only earn the tying score...the Vikes would have the ball on outside edge of field goal range with a chance to win the game. Then Brett Favre threw THE BONEHEADED INTERCEPTION OF ALL TIME!

The New Orleans won the coin toss...returned the kickoff to the 40...then staggered into field goal range thanks to Minnesota penalties to kick the game winner. It may go down in history as the ugliest championship game ever.

It will also go down as another winner for JIM HURLEY! Minnesota (+4) got the money...and the stats say it should have been outright (note the humongous edges for Minnesota in the key stats of rushing yardage, DRIVE POINTS, and third down conversions. Minnesota should have won HUGE outright!). Another winning weekend for the best handicapper in the land!

Pro football will have to go on the back burner for two weeks, as we await the Super Bowl. We'll run our previews for that thriller the Saturday before the big game. In the meantime, the NOTEBOOK will be buried in HOOPS COVERAGE!

Tonight's Big Monday Card features a pair of classic basketball rivalries:

Georgetown at Syracuse: 7 p.m. on ESPN
Missouri at Kansas: 9 p.m. on ESPN

 

BIG MONDAY PARLAY

Our TV Club is hitting 71% on college basketball plays and that includes a big winner last Big Monday when Kansas State took down then-#1 Texas in a 71-62 final. Now Big Monday's back and we're prepared to sweep the board! Syracuse and Georgetown are right in the midst of a tough Big East fight and are basketball experts have evaluated these talented frontlines and come back with definitive answers. Missouri-Kansas is a huge rivalry game, and our on-scene sources are telling us exactly what we can expect from the underdog Tigers. The information is all adding up to winners, and Jim Hurley's Network is going to go 2-0 on Big Monday! What's stopping YOU from getting on board

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JIM HURLEY knows how important Monday Night's are in your legal betting cycle. It's the night you have to win! You can be confident tonight's results will mirror NETWORK'S recent CASHLINE success. That service is 16-8 (67%) since January 13th, with big play winners Saturday on Georgia (+6) over Tennessee 78-63 (a 21-point cover!) and San Diego State (+3) over BYU in a 71-69 loss (holding on to get the money after blowing a lead for us).

You may have received a mailing about the CASHLINE over the weekend. We can now update the record from that bulletin. Selections are 33-18 ATS since December 30th, for a stellar 65%! Since the start of hoops, the mark is 106-62 for 63% winners!

We should also mention Sunday's special 'Off the Radar' MONSTER on the Under 137 in the Wisconsin-Green Bay/Youngstown State game. The final was 69-55, earning another double digit cover. NETWORK'S exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING approach will find advantages where they exist anywhere on the board.

Stop reading about these games after they win...and start getting the games before tipoff!

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MONDAY NIGHT IS ALWAYS MONEY NIGHT AT JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!

This article is part of the VSM MASTERS SERIES presented by VegasSportsMasters.com and JimHurley.com. For more information on JIM HURLEY'S handicapping packages, call 1-800-323-4453.

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