Super Bowl Teams OUT!
NEW ORLEANS AND INDIANAPOLIS
THE FIRST TWO ELIMINATED
by Mathew Hurley, Managing Editor
It wasn't much of a surprise when the New York Jets knocked off the Indianapolis Colts Saturday Night in a nailbiter. The Vegas spread was two points, and Indy led by two with just a few seconds to go. The BIG surprise was defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans falling earlier in the day in Seattle.
Let's crunch the numbers from Saturday action to get a better idea of what happened. Remember that our stat previews for TODAY'S games ran in our Saturday NOTEBOOK. Please check the archives if you would like to review that data...
SEATTLE 41, NEW ORLEANS 36
Total Yardage: New Orleans 474, Seattle 415
Rushing Yards: New Orleans 77, Seattle 149
Passing Stats: New Orleans 39-60-0-397, Seattle 22-35-1-266
Points on Drives of 60+ Yards: New Orleans 23, Seattle 28
Turnovers: New Orleans 1, Seattle 1
Third Down Rate: New Orleans 46%, Seattle 42%
Vegas Line: New Orleans by 10, total of 46
Notebook: Remember that our key stats in the NFL are rushing yardage, Drive Points, and third down conversions. This wasn't some kind of lucky or miracle win for the Seahawks. They owned the point of attack, and it allowed them to win Drive Points and overall scoring. As we've mentioned often in the past, throwing the ball 50 times or more at this level is a sign of weakness. New Orleans got a ton of yardage...but they had no way to jam it in when they got close. That led to field goals when they needed touchdowns. Ultimately, it wasn't enough.
Does this mean Seattle is now a threat along the lines of Arizona two years ago (when another NFC West team won as a 10-point road dog on the way to winning the conference)? We don't think so. We mentioned in the previews that New Orleans had played a weak schedule this year. They weren't as good as their stat rankings. And, they REALLY weren't as good as all the TV pundits were suggesting the past few weeks. They barely beat Atlanta in a game Atlanta didn't need. They couldn't beat Baltimore in a good tester game. With a shortage of healthy running backs, they were very unlikely to string together three road victories.
Don't get us wrong...this is a big upset. But, it's an upset by a bad team that finally got their experienced quarterback reasonably healthy...over a visitor that's been overrated in the second half of the season. Seattle will draw Atlanta next week if Philly beats Green Bay, but Chicago if Green Bay beats Philly. Can they play this well on the road? You'd think the answer would be no...but everyone thought that about Arizona in Carolina two years ago.
In the late game...
NY JETS 16, INDIANAPOLIS 14
Total Yardage: NY Jets 353, Indianapolis 312
Rushing Yards: NY Jets 169, Indianapolis 93
Passing Stats: NY Jets 18-31-1-184, Indianapolis 18-26-0-219
Points on Drives of 60+ Yards: NY Jets 14, Indianapolis 10
Turnovers: NY Jets 1, Indianapolis 0
Third Down Rate: NY Jets 53%, Indianapolis 46%
Vegas Line: Indianapolis by 2, total of 45
Notebook: It may have felt like a coin flip game as you were watching. But, note how our key indicator stats in the NFL pointed you in the direction of the winner. The Jets won rushing yardage 169-93, Drive Points 14-10, and Third Down conversions 53% to 46%. A clean sweep in the stats that mattered most. And, it was enough to get them a very close win on the road against a team that's famous for finding a way to win the close ones.
The bad news for the Jets is that they didn't really look like a team that was ready to go on the road and beat New England. Mark Sanchez was inconsistent even though he was playing in a dome. He'll be playing in Foxboro weather in January the next time he takes the field. You saw how badly he played in better New England conditions a few weeks back! The defense couldn't pressure Manning that much. It seemed like they were forcing incomplete passes on short shots to the right. That was it! Manning only had eight incomplete passes on the evening, and wasn't close to making any turnovers. Tom Brady has a lot more healthy weaponry right now, and will make good use of any time that he gets.
Rex Ryan deserves credit for getting his team back to the playoffs in what could have been a letdown year full of distractions. He'll have to get his guys to another level if they expect to play past next weekend.
While we have a chance, let's get caught up on bowl summaries from the past few days...
PITTSBURGH 27, KENTUCKY 10
Total Yardage: Pittsburgh 358, Kentucky 315
Rushing Yards: Pittsburgh 262, Kentucky 104
Passing Stats: Pittsburgh 9-19-1-96, Kentucky 21-36-0-211
Turnovers: Pittsburgh 1, Kentucky 1
Halftime Score: Pittsburgh 13, Kentucky 3
Vegas Line: Pittsburgh by 4, total of 51
Notebook: Solid game from Pittsburgh. You can see they won rushing yardage by a mile. They also blocked a punt to set up an easy score, and stopped a fake punt attempt. Total yardage doesn't express Pittsburgh's big edge in fundamentals. Focusing on rushing yardage tells the story better. Good showing for the Big East against the SEC. Though, Kentucky is an SEC East team...and that division has underachieved pretty badly thus far. South Carolina was upset by Florida State. Georgia was upset by Central Florida. Tennessee lost to North Carolina. Florida was on the verge of losing to Penn State when they got a late pick six to vulture a cover. That was the ONLY cover for the SEC East in five bowls. South Florida, Pittsburgh, and Louisville are Big East winners. West Virginia and UCONN fail. It's a league that tends to have a manageable bowl slate because of who's committed to play them. Still looks like the best in the Big East would finish about 7th or 8th in the SEC.
LSU 41, TEXAS A&M 24
Total Yardage: LSU 446, Texas A&M 351
Rushing Yards: LSU 288, Texas A&M 155
Passing Stats: LSU 10-19-1-158, Texas A&M 23-36-3-196
Turnovers: LSU 1, Texas A&M 4
Halftime Score: LSU 28, Texas A&M 17
Vegas Line: LSU by 2, total of 48
Notebook: Moving back a day to Friday, we see good news for the SEC. Of course, it was the SEC West! LSU joins Alabama and Mississippi State on the list of teams from that division who scored impressive victories. Note the big edge in rushing yardage and turnovers. Those are the categories we emphasize in the colleges. Texas A&M's only hope was to throw for a million yards without turning the ball over. They couldn't reach 200 passing yards and had four giveaways. Auburn will try to be the fourth team from this division to impress on Monday Night. The only disappointment is Arkansas, who just missed coming from behind against Ohio State this past Tuesday Night. The Aggies make it an even 2-2 straight up and ATS for the Big 12 South. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State win and cover. Baylor doesn't. From the Big 12 North, Nebraska, Missouri, and Kansas State all lost non-covers. So, 2-5 overall in another disappointing postseason for the Big 12.
MIAMI OF OHIO 35, MIDDLE TENNESSEE 21
Total Yardage: MTSU 370, Miami 416
Rushing Yards: MTSU 208, Miami 118
Passing Stats: MTSU 18-29-4-162, Miami 23-37-2-298
Turnovers: MTSU 5, Miami 2
Halftime Score: MTSU 14, Miami 14
Vegas Line: Middle Tennessee by 1.5, total of 49
Notebook: Can't forget about the Go Daddy Bowl. Apparently the festivities...featuring a half-empty stadium and little buzz about irrelevant teams...is just as exciting as the Greatest Spectacle in Racing! That's what Danica Patrick said to America in a sideline interview. She wouldn't fudge the truth to make her sponsors look good, would she? A turnover win for Miami of Ohio...who lost rushing yardage by a fair amount, but cashed in field position opportunities with a 2-5 turnover edge. The teams from the MAC Championship game both win and cover, as Miami joins Northern Illinois in the winner's circle. Toledo and Ohio would fail from the MAC...vs. Troy and Florida International from the Sun Belt. A 2-1 bowl slate for the Sun Belt with this loss from the Blue Raiders.
That wraps up our Sunday report. Back Monday with key stats from today's NFL action and a stat preview of the BCS National Championship game matching Auburn and Oregon. If you're reading this Sunday morning, you still have time to purchase JIM HURLEY'S BIG PLAYS in today's Wildcard games (check the archives for Saturday's report if you missed the stat previews). Major releases are on tap in Baltimore/Kansas City and Green Bay/Philadelphia. Of course, our BCS GAME OF THE YEAR is set for Monday Night as well.
This amazing football weekend continues today. DON'T MAKE A MOVE UNTIL YOU HEAR WHAT JIM HURLEY HAS TO SAY!
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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