Bulletin Newsletter Volume 28 Issue 10

Volume 28, Issue 10 ~ Thursday, Nov. 1 thru Monday, Nov. 5

THE NFL LATE-WEEK UPDATE:
TACKLING SOME OF THIS WEEKENDS HOT TOPICS

Its the halfway point of this here-and-how NFL season and everyone wants to know:

What teams are gonna wilt from this point on?

Well, common sense says that lack of depth figures to crush a few teams in Commish Roger Goodells 32-team league and right off the bat a few "candidates" to potentially hit the skids from early November on include the New York Jets, the St. Louis Rams and the Tampa Bay Bucs, all of whom have had some troubled times in the first half of this campaign but now things may get progressively worse.

Note that entering this weekends games, the Jets, Rams and Bucs have a combined ATS (against the spread) won/loss mark of 14-9-1 - pretty darn good, right?
 
Well, heres one vote that says dont be at all surprised if this spread mark is reversed for these teams the rest of the way. Lets roll through some depth concern issues here:

The Jets - who may have two quarterbacks but not really have one starter thanks to this Mark Samchez/Tim Tebow mess - really have few dependable bodies in reserve on defense where the loss of CB Darrell Revis has hurt plus now the D-line and linebacking corps are having their injury issues and Rex Ryans crew simply does not have able-bodied guys to stick into starting roles.

Ditto for the young Rams who are certainly building up their foundation in Year One of the Jeff Fisher regime but if QB Sam Bradford and/or a couple of defensive studs go down, things could plummet and you might be looking at only a 5- or 6-win season for this NFC West crew.

Finally, theres lots to like about this years T-Bay Buccaneers who last week bashed host Minnesota 36-17 but could use some hearty reserves in the defensive backfield should old-timer S Barber or anyone else go down.

One other NFL-related topic is whats gonna happen with the leagues rookie quarterbacks?

No doubt Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III has been everything as advertised (and way tougher than anyone could have imagined) and Indianapolis Colts slinger Andrew Luck have been natural-born leaders and winners and we wouldnt expect any great fall-off here even if they both hit that proverbial "wall" of playing a 16-game regular-season schedule.

But lets keep close eyes on Clevelands Brandon Weeden and Miamis Ryan Tannehill who both lack real playmaker types - both of 'em probably will be throwing a few more INTs than TDs the rest of the way and thats assuming Tannehill rebounds from his first-quarter leg injury suffered in last weekends 30-9 win against the NY Jets

How about Seattles Russell Wilson?

Well, hes been dynamic in the fourth quarter - for the most part - but expecting last-second miracles (see wins against Green Bay and New England) down the road in games against defensively-sound teams such as Chicago (Dec. 2nd) and Arizona (Dec. 9th).might be too tall an order for this shrimp-sized slinger.

Finally, how will teams respond for their "coaches on the hot seat" in places such as Philadelphia and Dallas?

Gut feeling is the Eagles organization knows the Andy Reid Era is - dare we say - just about at the finish line here in its 14th year.

 The Birds - whose 3-4 mark heading into the Monday Night Football game at New Orleans - havent gone downhill just 'cause of those well-documented QB Michael Vick turnovers but where are the other playmakers here on "D" and special teams?

 The Eagles are 1-5-1 spreadwise this year and could finish up with only three or four pointspread covers if the team doesnt respond to their coach being on the apparent firing line.

The Cowboys?

Well, hard to have any real confidence in HC Jason Garrett whose NFC East team already has lost games this season by two points in Baltimore and by five points against the visiting NY Giants and now at 3-4 SU (straight-up) heading into the Sunday Night game in Atlanta you are starting to get the sense that the 'Boys need to "step on it" or else be left out of the playoffs for a third consecutive season and that would be the nail in Garretts coffin ... for sure.

Hey, nobodys asking us but some of the names circulating as potential NFL head coaches next year include first-year Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley and Oregon head coach Chip Kelly who might just be that flashy fit in Dallas. Stay tuned.

One other name to track: Is Oklahomas Bob Stoops finally ready to make the leap into NFL land? If that Cleveland Browns head-coaching job happens to open come January, than Stoops -an Ohio native - might say bye-bye to the Sooners.

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NCAA PREVIEWS

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 SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 3

MISSOURI at FLORIDA (12 p.m. ET): Always interesting to see how top 10 teams respond following tough-to-stomach losses and thats what faces the "mighty Gators" who hiccupped badly in last weekends 17-9 loss to Georgia. Okay, so QB Driskel lost a pair of fumbles and threw two picks and now claims its "now out of my system" but Las Vegas oddsmakers have Florida favored by 16 points (and rising) here and thats a whole lot to chew on when your quarterback is skittish. If Mizzou proves to be a "live dog" here than a ground game that gained 186 yards in 33-10 win/cover versus Kentucky last week must come through ... are you listening RB Lawrence (see 108 yards rushing and two TDs last weekend)? Spread Stat here is Florida is snazzy 6-1 against the odds this year when playing fellow SEC foes after having gone a rotten 7-16-2 vig-wise against SEC teams the past three seasons.

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OREGON at USC (7 p.m. ET): Not often that youll see the preseason #1 team (thats the USC Trojans) taking a TD-plus price at home but thats the case here in major Pac-12 shindig starring Oregon Ducks team that is averaging 540 offensive yards per game to say nothing of the fact HC Kellys crew has scored 40-or-more points in 11 consecutive games dating back to last years 38-35 loss to the Troy Boys. In this clash in LA-LA land, Oregon RBs Barner and Thomas may be the lights-out players of note but whats USC wide-out Lee gonna do for an encore after that 16-catch, 345-yard, two-TD performance last week in the loss to Arizona?

ALABAMA at LSU (8 p.m. ET): Marquee matchup here on this first weekend of November but how about the fact Bayou Bengals are taking 10-or-so points here and the last time HC Miles crew grabbed more than a TD was way back in 2009 season when 7 ½-point favorite 'Bama bested LSU 24-15 in a game played in Tuscaloosa ... remember? Now, upset-minded LSU - still very much in play when it comes to getting into this years BCS Championship Game - must get something positive from countrys 106th-best passing offense and even stout ground game needs something positive from QB Mettenberger who has thrown only 7 TDs to go along with 4 INTs. One X-factor here, folks: Alabamas top-ranked rush defense figures to put an extra D-lineman to handle a physical LSU offensive line and so that could mean Mettenberger could throw a batch of quick "outs" and so YAC (yards after catch) will be ultra-critical here. Lets just hope we dont get another 9-6 game like they produced at this time last year (as if the Alabama 21-0 win against LSU in the BCS Championship Game was any kind of thrill-a-minute affair!). The first team to 17 points wins here.

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NFL WEEK 9 PREVIEWS

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 Network Cover Club

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 4

DENVER at CINCINNATI: (1 p.m. ET): The Broncos have some major "mojo" on their side these days as QB Manning and Company have won three of their last four games (and all of them by twin-figure margins) but now AFC West gang is laying road points for the first time this season and Cincy Bengals come off their bye and looking to bust three-game SU (straight-up) losing skid. The Bengals are banking on bounce-back showing from QB Dalton who has been intercepted in every game this year and has tossed six picks in his teams last three games. Maybe this QB matchup appears a one-sided affair but Cincinnati defense also needs to contain RB McGahee who rushed for 101 yards in 24-22 Denver win last year.

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PITTSBURGH at NEW YORK GIANTS (4:25 p.m. ET)  -- Super showdown at MetLife Stadium and heres hoping "Sandy" and her hurricane-like effects is long gone so tri-state areas suffering folks can enjoy this pigskin bash that pits Hobokens own QB Manning against Steelers defense that ranks a heady seventh league-wide against the pass. On the flip side, Pittsburgh zooms in off back-to-back wins/covers against Cincinnati and Washington as QB Roethlisberger threw for 222 yards with 3 TDs and 0 INTs - yes, he should be included in early-bird MVP candidates, for sure - but real key is HC Tomlins crew has discovered a new star RB Dwyer who rushed for 107 yards on just 17 carries in 27-12 win against the 'Skins.

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MONDAY, NOVEMBER 5

PHILADELPHIA at NEW ORLEANS: (8:40 p.m. ET): Go ahead and raise your hand if you thought both the Eagles and the Saints would own losing records at this midway point of the 2012 season! Philadelphia (3-4) has been held below the 20-point mark in four of its last five games while New Orleans (2-5) has allowed 27-or-more points in six of their first seven games and that leaky defense really put up the proverbial white flag in last Sunday Nights 34-14 loss in Denver. The Saints now rank a dismal 30th in the NFL in pass defense (304.6 ypg) and 31st in rush defense (170.1 ypg) and now $64,000 question is can NOrleans defense apply enough heat to make mistake-prone QB Vick cough up the pigskin a few times here?

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JIM HURLEY'S COLLEGE FOOTBALL TOP 10
  1. ALABAMA - The road to another BCS Championship Game runs thru Baton Rouge this weekend and than a likely SEC title tilt vs. Georgia
  1. OREGON - Lets get one thing straight: The Ducks wont let their feet off the pedal anytime soon after scoring 70 points last weekend vs. Colorado
  1. KANSAS STATE - The 'Cats have covered their last five games in a row and now must keep piling it on to stay ahead of Notre Dame in our poll
  1. NOTRE DAME - Hard to see where the Irish is gonna lose prior to Nov. 24th tilt at USC but Brian Kellys crew needs to win by large margins against Pitt and BC these next two weekends
  1. LSU - The Bayou Bengals will wind up in SEC title tilt if they beat 'Bama on Saturday night but when does QB Mettenberger come to life?
  1. GEORGIA - All hail the Dawgs following that electric 17-9 upset win against Florida last week and about time LB Jones gobbled up the headlines
  1. LOUISVILLE - The Cardinals take their fancy 8-and-oh mark into Saturdays game against Temple but what happens if the 'Ville finishes 12-0 with no league championship game? Hmmm
  1. FLORIDA - The Gators probably knew QB Driskel wasnt gonna save their bacon at crunch time ... and they were right
  1. FLORIDA STATE - The truth of the matter is the 'Noles only have one "name" win this year and that came against Clemson. Big deal
  1. NEBRASKA - The recent back-to-back wins against Northwestern and Michigan have bolstered the 'Huskers who might wind up playing in a big January bowl game after all

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