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Volume 29, Issue 15 - Saturday, Dec. 14 thru Monday, Dec. 16


Chargers Not Dead Yet - Have Peyton and the Broncos Peaked?

Jim Hurley Sweeps NFL Primetime with the Bears on Monday and the Chargers Thursday

Say this for the Denver Broncos - they can look like world-beaters one week and less-than-ordinary dudes the next.
While everyone’s been all-too-quick to pencil in a Denver vs. Seattle showdown in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in February - remember we talked about that the other day here in a Jim Sez column? - the fact of the matter is the Broncos could wind up having to play a road playoff game this winter and they may well point to Thursday Night’s 27-20 loss to 10 ½-point underdog San Diego as the numero uno reason why.

Hey, the Broncos never seemed to have the football in this Week 15 tilt - note that Denver’s time of possession was a mere 21 minutes-and-change - while the Chargers manned up and got physical with the running of RB Ryan Mathews and the two-TD, no-INT play of clutch QB Philip Rivers helping to steal the show. Could the Broncos have "peaked" too soon? We shall see, right?

Suffice to say, it’s gotten down to "crunch time" in the National Football League even if some "name teams" such as the New York Giants, the Washington Redskins, the Houston Texans and the Atlanta Falcons long ago waved the white flag! There’s mad scrambling for playoff seedings in both the NFC and AFC and that everyone-into-the-pool battle for the #6 seed in the AFC sure looks as if it’s gonna go right down to Week 17.

AFC-NFC Parlay of the Year Sweeps Sunday
In 2012, our Holiday Package highlighted Conference Parlay of the Year was an easy sweep as the Panthers (+3) beat the Falcons outright 30-20 and the Jets (-3) easily handled the Jaguars, 17-10.
Both those games presaged this year’s demise of the losing squads as the Falcons and Jaguars have completely collapsed. This Sunday we again feature up and comers against going-downhill-fast teams. And that means two easy spread wins. Click here to win for just $50

NFL WEEK 15 PREVIEWS

Get all of Jim Hurley’s NFL Week 15 winners when you check with him on game day Sunday after 11 a.m. ET and after 1 p.m. ET on Monday for the MNF game either online at www.JimHurley.com or at the exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453

NEW ENGLAND (10-3) at MIAMI (7-6) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Are the NE Patriots set for another dramatic win in this season chock full of last-second miracles... or will last week’s season-ending knee injury to Pro Bowl TE Rob Gronkowski strip away lots of luster here for Bill Belichick’s crew?
There is no denying the fact that for someone that played just six games this year because of other injuries, Gronkowski’s 37 catches and 560 receiving yards - to say nothing of his red-zone prowess - will be sadly missed here but maybe that means Pats QB Tom Brady zips in short-and-safe strikes to RB Shane Vereen who nabbed a dozen receptions in last week’s wild 27-26 comeback win against Cleveland.

New England’s gunning for the season sweep here - remember the Pats copped a 27-17 win against 6 ½-point dog Miami back in Week 8 play - while the born-again Fish (see four consecutive spread wins and 3-of-4 wins straight-up the past month) might want to incorporate WR Mike Wallace more into the attack here after he snagged just two catches for 19 yards in last Sunday’s snowy 34-28 win in Pittsburgh.

Hey, do you realize that Miami ranks a lowly 23rd league-wide in both rushing offense and rushing defense and still has a winning record? Hmmm.

Spread Note - New England is a horrid 1-5 ATS (against the spread) away this year and that includes divisional pointspread setbacks in both Buffalo and at the NY Jets.

NEW ORLEANS (10-3) at ST. LOUIS (5-8) - 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox
Is this "sandwich game" gonna be a sticky one for the Saints? Sean Payton’s crew blasted Carolina 31-13 last Sunday night - it was the ninth time this year that New Orleans held a foe below the 20-point mark - but now we’ll see if Rob Ryan’s defense is completely focused in here with Round II against the Panthers on tap for next weekend in Charlotte.
If New Orleans - a 5 ½-point betting favorite at press time - can keep a "clean pocket" for QB Drew Brees than you can expect some long-ball tosses to WR Marques Colston (two TDs last Sunday) but something tells us the real key to this tilt will be how St. Louis fares when getting the ball into the hands of rookie WR Travon Austin. No doubt he’s been on the silent side the past couple of weeks and Jeff Fisher’s club is only gonna win here if Austin gets 10-or-so touches including a couple of reverse runs. Did you know that the Rams have surrendered 30-or-more points on five occasions this season and they’re 0-5 versus the vig in those losses - ouch!

Spread Note - New Orleans is 23-11-1 versus the vig (that’s a .676 winning rate) as betting favorites while dating back to the start of the 2011 season and that includes the 31-21 loss at 13 ½-point dog St. Louis back in the ’11 campaign.

NFL Home Dog Triple Play
No fewer than 10 teams are home underdogs this Sunday, and there are 3 that will step up and win outright. Don’t try to find them on your own, let my Network do all the research and legwork, and you just play the games and collect the money.
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CHICAGO (7-6) at CLEVELAND (4-9) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
The Chicago Bears may be wrestling with this Jay Cutler-or-Josh McCown bit as to who starts at quarterback both here and down the stretch but make no mistake about it that Marc Trestman’s crew ain’t winning here even it cannot contain Browns’ uber-hot WR Josh Gordon who went from league-record back-to-back 200-plus receiving games to last week’s 7-catch, 151-yard performance that included a dazzling 80-yard TD in the 27-26 loss to New England.

Gordon’s become one of the NFL’s most dynamic playmakers - hey, some folks would label him the number one playmaker in the league right now - and so the Bears’ banged-up and slowish secondary figure to have their hands full here. Meanwhile, it appears McCown will again get the nod for the Bears under center here and his continued hook-ups with WR Alshon Jeffery makes this tandem extremely dangerous - now the question is does Cleveland CB Joe Haden guard Jeffery or WR Brandon Marshall or does he simply patrol one field of the field here? Stay tuned.

Spread Notes - Chicago is 3-8-2 ATS (against the spread) overall this year and the Bears head into this road tilt having failed to cover seven of their last 10 away games. Meanwhile, Cleveland is 6-7 ATS overall this year and note the Brownies are a dead-even and vig-losing 10-10-1 spreadwise in their last 21 home games.

GREEN BAY (6-6-1) at DALLAS (7-6) - 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox
Certainly getting the sense that this here-and-now season for Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers could well be over even though the Packers remain quite mysterious regarding his playing status both here and in the next couple of weeks - the collarbone injury suffered back on Nov. 4th in a 27-20 home loss to Chicago absolutely sabotaged this G-Bay season and the fact the Pack’s 1-4-1 SU (straight-up) the past six weeks of play proves Rodgers is one of the three or four most essential players to their respective teams in this man’s league.

Note that Dallas will look for a ball-control passing game to spark ’em here - there’s no way this broken-down and worn-out Cowboys’ defense can be asked to make big stands even if it’s Matt Flynn at quarterback for Green Bay here - and what would you say if we recommended Dallas QB Tony Romo sling more slant throws to get WR Dez Bryant more involved... sounds good, right?

One final Cowboys-related note here: Dallas has allowed 30-or-more points on six different occasions this season (now that’s 11 times that’s happened under second-year DC Monte Kiffin) and so you begin to wonder whether or not the NFC East crew needs some gimmicks to survive here such as a well-timed onside kick or maybe some key corner/safety blitzes on defense - all we know is Dallas’ non-competitive 45-28 loss last Monday Night in chilly Soldier Field was a major embarrassment to the organization that could be headed for a fourth consecutive non-winning and non-playoff season. Anything to say about that, Mr. Jones?

Spread Notes - Dallas is a solid 8-5 against the Las Vegas prices this year but the Cowboys are now 4-9 ATS in the last four games of regular-season play dating back to the 2010 season. Green Bay ’s 4-8-1 spreadwise this year and the Packers stagger into this tilt on a six-game spread losing skid and that’s the longest spread slide in the Mike McCarthy Era that began in 2006.

I’ve Won 3 Straight On Sunday Night!
Nov 24: Patriots (+2.5) Broncos WON 34-31
Dec 1: Giants (+1) Redskins WON 24-17
Dec 8: Saints (-3) Panthers WON 31-13

Win #4 Is My AFC Sunday Night Grudge Game
Bengals at Steelers - Just $20

On Sunday Night, it’s...
CINCINNATI (9-4) at PITTSBURGH (5-8) - 8:30 p.m. ET. NBC

Maybe it won’t matter where Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin stands along the sideline here or whether or not Pittsburgh wide receivers can stay in bounds either... the fact is this dreadful season probably can’t end soon enough for the black-and-gold who started off at 0-4 SU this year and only once regained a spark (see the back-to-back-to-back wins against Buffalo/Detroit/Cleveland).

Now the talk’s heating up that Tomlin could exit stage left for a possible high-profile college job and that the Steelers may indeed entertain off-season trade talks involving QB Ben Roethlisberger - might we be getting to end-of-an-era type stuff for the Steel gang?

Conversely, the Cincy Bengals - even after losing back-to-back overtime games in Week 9 and 10 to Miami and Baltimore, respectively - have soared to atop the AFC North and last week’s 42-28 win/cover against 7-point dog Indianapolis was heady stuff as Marvin Lewis’ crew possessed the football for some 37:45 and didn’t commit a single turnover in chilly and at-times snowy weather even though QB Andy Dalton and Company cranked out 70 offensive plays from scrimmage (yes, 35 rushes for a 155 yards and 35 passes worth 275 yards).

If Dalton (24-of-35 for 275 yards and touchdown throws to WR Marvin Jones, TE Jermaine Gersham and wide-out A.J. Green) can spread the wealth here one week after five different pass-catchers nabbed 3-or-more receptions, than the Bengals should/could get a season sweep over the Steelers for the first time since 2009. And what can we expect here from rookie RB Gio Bernard (see 99 yards rushing and four catches for 49 yards receiving in last week’s blowout home win) who continues to be a valuable do-it-all piece for this Bengals’ offense that has scored 40-plus points in three of the team’s last six games?

Spread Notes - Cincinnati is a tidy 8-4-1 versus the vig overall this season and that includes the 20-10 win/cover against the 6 ½-point underdog Steelers back in Week 2 play. Pittsburgh is 6-7 ATS this season and did you know the Steelers are a tasty 6-3-1 ATS in AFC North games since the start of last year?

Monday Night Football Mismatch
The Ravens travel to Detroit to face the Lions in a battle of teams trying to keep their tenuous hold on a playoff spot. Both played in terrible weather conditions last Sunday, with Baltimore surviving and beating the Vikings 29-26 in that amazing last-2-minute 5-touchdown swing, while Detroit squandered an excellent opportunity in Philly when they allowed the Eagles to run wild in the second half during a nasty snowstorm.Nothing like that tonight inside Ford Field as these two should put up an entertaining (and profitable for us) night of football. Just $25 gets the winning edge - click here.

THE EARLY COLLEGE BOWL PREVIEWS

Get all of the College Bowl Winners for starting Saturday, December 21 when you check in with Jim Hurley either online at www.JimHurley.com or at the exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 after 10am (ET) on game-day mornings and after 1pm. ET for the weeknight games.

Here’s a look at the first 8 bowl games from Saturday, Dec. 21st thru Thursday, Dec. 26th:

SATURDAY, DEC. 21

NEW MEXICO BOWL -at Albuquerque, NM
COLORADO STATE (7-6) vs. WASHINGTON STATE (6-6) -2 p.m. ET, ESPN
Three cheers for Colorado State boss-man Jim McElwain, who has taken lessons learned at Alabama and made this Rams bunch a "tough out" (they’re 9-4 ATS this year) and now the $64,000 question is can C-State hold up against Washington State QB Connor Halliday (4,187 yards passing with 28 TDs), who could chuck it 75 times here... really!

LAS VEGAS BOWL -at Las Vegas, NV
#20 FRESNO STATE (11-1) vs. #25 USC (9-4) -3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Gotta admit that it’s rare to get a matchup of top 25 teams in a pre-January bowl bash, but that’s the case here in "Sin City" where USC’s third head coach of the year (that’s acting boss Clay Helton) tries to finish off this turbulent season with a "W", but all eyes are on Fresno State slinger Derek Carr, who threw for 4,866 yards and 48 TDs for the country’s third-ranked passing attack while leading the Bulldogs to a Mountain West Conference crown. Is this six-point price tag favoring the Men of Troy too "tall"? Hmmm.

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FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL -at Boise, ID
BUFFALO (8-4) vs. SAN DIEGO STATE (7-5) -5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
It’s a blue turf battle here between two evenly-matched teams that both have flown under the proverbial radar for much of this 2013 season, but make sure you check out Buffalo LB Khalil Mack -a Butkus Award finalist -- who will be making a bee-line to the San Diego State backfield here early and often. The SDSU Aztecs, meanwhile, won’t be shy about throwing the ball to WRs Ezell Ruffin (1,061 yards receiving on 63 grabs) and sidekick Colin Lockett (49 receptions and 5 TDs).

NEW ORLEANS BOWL -at New Orleans, LA
UL-LAFAYETTE (8-4) at TULANE (7-5) -9 p.m. ET, ESPN
Now here’s a bowl game with extra spice as these Louisiana neighbors battle it out in the Superdome -and if they don’t get close to a sellout here than shame on all these Cajuns! Note that UL-Lafayette is playing in this game for a third consecutive year and the Ragin’ Cajuns are gunning for a "hat trick" after beating San Diego State 32-30 as 6-point dogs two years ago and besting East Carolina 43-34 as 6 ½-point favs last year. Remember Joe’s son Nick Montana is the Tulane quarterback.

MONDAY DEC. 23

BEEF O’BRADY’S BOWL -at St. Petersburg, FL
OHIO (7-5) vs. EAST CAROLINA (9-3) -2 p.m. ET, ESPN
There are a lot of Frank Solich-haters out there in football-land but keep this under your hat: The Ohio Bobcats are playing in their fifth consecutive post-season bowl game this year and that’s saying something for a program that was a combined 6-17 SU (straight-up) in the two years prior to Solich’s arrival back in 2005. On the flip side, East Carolina averages 331 passing yards a game and QB Shane Carden (3,866 yards passing with 32 TDs) may be the best quarterback you haven’t heard about this year -hey, the ECU Buccos are a near two-TD betting favorite for this holiday bash in the "Trop".

TUESDAY, DEC. 24

HAWAII BOWL -at Honolulu, HI
OREGON STATE (6-6) vs. BOISE STATE (8-4) -8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Go ahead and wrap those last-second gifts and check out this neat Christmas Eve game from the 50th state where Oregon State looks to salvage a once very-promising season -remember the Beavers were 6-1 SU after beating California in mid-October -- while Boise State begins the post-Chris Petersen Era as he heads off to Washington. If Oregon State WR Brandin Cooks (120 catches for 1,670 yards with 15 TDs this season) explodes for a bevy of "chunk plays" here than the Pac-12 guys should get the loot.

THURSDAY, DEC. 26

LITTLE CAESAR’S PIZZA BOWL -at Detroit. MI
PITTSBURGH (6-6) vs. BOWLING GREEN (10-3) -6 p.m. ET, ESPN
Here’s one of those rare bowl games where the mid-major team is the betting favorite over the BCS team but -then again -does anyone really know what they’re gonna get from the Pitt Panthers who failed to cover their final three regular-season games? And did you know Bowling Green held seven different foes to seven points or less this year and thoroughly befuddled Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch in the Mid-American Conference Championship Game? One kooky stat here is that Pittsburgh’s scored a grand total of 69 points in its past five bowl games dating back to 2008... not very productive in the post-season, eh?

POINSETTIA BOWL -at San Diego, CA
UTAH STATE (8-5) vs. #23 NORTHERN ILLINOIS (12-1) -9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Good contrast here as that potent Northern Illinois offense starring the aforementioned QB Lynch (1,881 yards rushing with 22 scores and 2,676 yards passing with 23 TDs) bucks heads with a Utah State defense that’s held seven opponents to 17 points or less this year (including six foes held to 12 points or less). Too bad that -more than likely -Utah State will be down to its third-string quarterback as backup-turned-starter Darrell Garretson has some head issues after getting dinged in last weekend’s MWC Championship Game.

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