Bulletin Newsletter Volume 28 Issue 17
Volume 28, Issue 17 ~ December 13-16, 2012
THURSDAY NIGHT NFL PREVIEW
CINCINNATI (7-6) at PHILADELPHIA (4-9) - 8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Game plan for the Bengals here is to step things up in the red zone - keep in mind Cincinnati's new PK Josh Brown booted FGs from 25, 33 and 25 yards out among his four three-pointers and that ain't gonna cut it here against a Philly team buoyed by the play of rookie QB Nick Foles (see 381 yards passing and two TD tosses against the Bucs). One key stat to watch for here is can Philadelphia rush the ball one week after the ground game churned out only 29 rushing yards on 16 carries?
Spread Notes - Cincinnati rolls into this prime-time bash having covered four of its last five games overall but the Bengals are an ugly 12-27-2 ATS (against the spread) as betting favorites while dating back to the start of the 2007 campaign. On the flip side, Philadelphia co-owns the worst spread mark in the league this year (see our accompanying NFL Pointspread Standings Chart) and the Eagles are a collective 9-21 versus the vig when playing non-NFC East foes the past two-plus seasons.
SATURDAY'S COLLEGE BOWL PREVIEWS
NEW MEXICO BOWL: University Stadium - Albuquerque, NM
In short, Nevada must get a handle on Arizona RB Ka'Deem Carey who rushed for 1,757 yards and 20 touchdowns this year and that includes a 366-yard rushing game against woeful Colorado back on November 10th. If Carey is corralled by Nevada's stop unit, than it'll be up to versatile QB Matt Scott to rally the U of A attack after he threw for 3,238 yards with 24 TDs and 12 INTs this season.
No question that Nevada hoped for a better year in 2012 but a pair of one-point losses - to South Florida and San Diego State with the latter game coming in OT - put a major damper on things and here Hall of Fame head coach Chris Ault is trusting oft-erratic QB Cody Fajardo (2,530 yards passing and 981 yards rushing) to make things happen for this pistol offense (and especially in the red zone) while RB Stefphon Jefferson (1,703 yards rushing and 22 TDs) must be a force if the Pack's gonna snag the big upset - at press time Arizona was a 9 ½-point betting favorite.
The Bowl Spread Notes - Arizona's failed to cover two of its last three bowl games dating back to 2008 and that includes a 36-10 loss versus 4 ½-point favorite Oklahoma State in the 2010 Alamo Bowl. Meanwhile, Nevada's a rotten 0-4-1 ATS (against the spread) in bowl games dating back to 2007 with the lone "push" occurring last year in the 24-17 Hawaii Bowl setback against 7-point fav Southern Miss.
FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL: Bronco Stadium - Boise, ID
P.S., Utah State's won only one bowl game in his history - a 1993 triumph over Ball State in the Las Vegas Bowl. On the flip side, Toledo has more than a few question marks here including on defense where the Mid-American Conference club surrendered 464.1 yards a game thus ranking 'em 108th in the FBS in total defense. Best way for Toledo to hang in here is for Matt Campbell's club to feed WR Bernard Reedy (82 receptions for 1,051 yards and 6 TDs) early and often. Got it?
The Bowl Spread Notes - Utah State's only bowl appearance the past 10 years occurred last season with the painful 24-23 last-minute loss to Ohio University (a pick 'em affair) while Toledo has failed to cover four-of-five bowl appearances the past 10 years including last season's 42-41 non-cover win against Air Force in the Military Bowl. Note that Toledo's only bowl cover the past 10 years happened back in 2005 with a resounding 45-13 victory against 3-point dog UTEP in the GMAC Bowl.
NFL WEEK 15 KEY MATCHUPS
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INDIANAPOLIS (9-4) at HOUSTON (11-2) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS
So much for the Houston Texans looking like world-beaters every week! The 42-14 MNF beat-down at the hands of the 5 ½-point favored New England Patriots (another Network MNF Winner, now 12-5-1 on the season!) sure was a big-time serving of humble pie for a Texans team that had dismantled more than a few foes along the way this year - Houston had beaten six teams by twin-figure margins this season - and now we'll see how Texans' head coach Gary Kubiak gets his guys ready for the first of two head-to-head meetings with the Indy Colts in these final three weeks of play (talk about your strange scheduling!). One item from Colts-land: Maybe PK Adam Vinatieri hadn't much entered your mind this year but those 53- and 40-yard field goals in the fourth quarter of last week's 27-23 come-from-behind win against Tennessee (remember the Titans led 20-7 at halftime) showed the future Hall of Fame kicker is still on his game and don't be shocked if he's front-and-center at crunch time here again.
PITTSBURGH (7-6) at DALLAS (7-6) - 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS
Emotions run high in Cowboys land after the tragic auto accident of practice team LB Jerry Brown, Jr. and you do have to wonder if Jason Garrett's club will be a tad worn out emotionally come game time here on Sunday: Consider that Dallas managed to snag that aforementioned 20-19 win at Cincinnati last week despite the fact the 'Boys rushed for only 49 yards on 24 carries and despite the fact they forced just one Bengals turnover (a pick of Cincinnati QB Andy Dalton) and both categories must be improved here against an ornery Steelers club that was never really in the game in last weekend's 34-24 loss to San Diego. Got a feeling we're not gonna be seeing that"bubble screen" pass operated out of the Pittsburgh end zone here, right coach Mike Tomlin?
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On Sunday Night, it's ...SAN FRANCISCO (9-3-1) at NEW ENGLAND (10-3) - 8:25 p.m. ET, NBC
As NBC analyst Chris Collinsworth stated last week, this was almost the Super Bowl matchup a year ago but San Fran's NFC Championship Game overtime loss to the NY Giants squashed that and so now we'll see what these powerhouse squads have to offer in - you know we have to say it - what could be this year's Super Bowl preview. So there! Okay, so brainy Bill Belichick and the Patriots defense will sure be spending lots of time this week devising ways to slow down the rushing skills of San Fran kid QB Colin Kaepernick but gotta believe this result will hinge more on whether or not Kaepernick can make New England's secondary pay here - no doubt Houston QB Matt Schaub was out-foxed more than once by the Pats' much-maligned but improving secondary as Devin McCourty's goal-line pick with New England up 7-0 proved to be the single-biggest play in that prime-time affair from Foxboro. Meanwhile, the Pats - who have now outscored their opponents 472-to-274 this year - are banking on California guy QB Tom Brady (four TD passes against the Texans) dissecting this sure-tackling, fundamentally sound SF defense that has held seven foes to 16 points or less. P.S., the Patriots have scored 16 points or less a grand total of two times since the start of the 2010 season (that's twice in 49 games!)
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