Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, November 20, 2011 at 8:16 AM
Don't you just love it when announcers say..."If the season ended today, so-and-so would make the playoffs".
Well, do you know that if the season did end today both the AFC's Cincinnati Bengals (6-3) and the NFC's Detroit Lions (6-3) would each make it to the post-season and when is the last time you could have said that in the same season (sorry, we don't have that much time to research such matters!).
The Bengals were knocked off their pegs in last week's 24-17 home loss to Pittsburgh but now here in Week 11 they have a shot at bagging a fellow AFC North opponents and something tells us Marvin Lewis' crew can't afford to lose back-to-back divisional tilts.
On the other hand, the Lions are in the midst of their own little freefall following on the heels of an electric 5-and-oh start.
The Motowners - who have been taken to task here and elsewhere regarding their dirty/chippy play - have dropped three of their last four games and last week's 37-13 NFC North loss in Chicago was truly disturbing on a whole lot of fronts including the fact QB Matthew Stafford is starting to look like a guy who no longer wants to get hit ... too bad, buddy, this is the NFL!
The Lions get to straighten out their act against the slumping Carolina Panthers team this weekend - we'll have something to say about that game in our Monday edition of Jim Sez - but the Bengals' battle with the Baltimore Ravens will kick off our NFL Week 11 Sunday afternoon previews in just a second but first a pointspread update:
The best bet in this year's NFL thus far? That's the San Francisco 49ers who have cranked out an 8-0-1 ATS (against the spread) log while heading into Sunday's home game against the Arizona Cardinals.
The worst wagering side in the NFL so far? Why, it's the Indianapolis Colts who are 2-8 versus the vig in this can't-end-quick-enough 2011 campaign but note that Cleveland, St. Louis and San Diego each own only two pointspread wins apiece as well heading into this weekend's action.
Now, here's a look at the key NFL Week 11 Sunday afternoon games ...
CINCINNATI (6-3) at BALTIMORE (6-3) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS
We know there's plenty of NFL fans that want to know the following: Will the real Baltimore Ravens please stand up?
One week this team's a world-beater against Pittsburgh; the next week they stagger badly in a 22-17 loss at 7-point underdog Seattle. Maybe John Harbaugh's club just needs to better define its identity as last week QB Joe Flacco threw the ball 52 times and that's simply way out of character whether Baltimore was playing catch-up for much of the day or not.
Note that Flacco's been a major bust in his last four head-to-head games with the Bengals as he's thrown 2 TDs and 9 INTs while getting sacked 11 times while losing three of his last four outings against the Cincy kids.
Spread Notes - Cincinnati is 7-2 ATS this season and did you know the Bengals have covered 10 of their last 13 head-to-head showdowns against Baltimore? Note that the Ravens are 5-4 versus the vig overall this season and that features 3-of-4 covers as home betting favorites.
TAMPA BAY (4-5) at GREEN BAY (9-0) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
No doubt you've heard the news ... Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers never has beaten the Tampa Bay Bucs (okay, so he's only 0-2 against 'em in his career).
Still, if Rodgers - who is completing nearly 73 percent of his passes this season to go along with 28 TDs and 3 INTs - needs any real motivation here it's merely to keep the defending Super Bowl champ Packers perfect as long as possible and keep in mind Green Bay's at Detroit come Thanksgiving Day and so you do wonder if Mike McCarthy's gang is peeking ahead a bit to that holiday clash.
One note on the double-digit dog TB Bucs: They've registered a grand total of 43 points in losing their last three games in a row and last weekend erratic hurler Josh Freeman was picked off three times in the non-competitive 37-9 loss against Houston ... ugh!
Spread Notes - Green Bay has become one of the greatest NFL investments over a prolonged period of time as the Packers are a cumulative 31-14-1 ATS since the start of the 2009 season (that's a .689 winning percentage) and that includes this season's stunning 7-2 spread mark. On the other hand, Tampa Bay's covered just three of its nine wagers this year and not the Bucs have failed to cover their last three in a row when placed in the underdog role (versus Houston, New Orleans and Chicago).
SAN DIEGO (4-5) at CHICAGO (6-3) - 4:15 p.m. ET, CBS
Chicago Bears veteran LB Brian Urlacher said his club is "going in the right direction" - and we'd have to agree after the NFC North crew won their fourth consecutive game last Sunday with a resounding 24-point home win against Detroit that included "pick six" scores by DBs Charles Tillman and Major Wright - now the $64,000 question is will the Bears' defense play with such passion and fury here against a Chargers club that hasn't won since way back on Oct. 9th?
No doubt if San Diego wishes to stay relevant in the AFC playoff picture than QB Philip Rivers (13 TDs but 15 INTs) must get his act together and the Bolts must overcome a banged-up O-line that might be missing as many as three starters including G Kris Dielman who has suffered from concussion issues and a major seizure already this year.
Spread Notes - Chicago is 5-4 against the odds overall this season and 10-5 ATS overall since late in the 2010 campaign. San Diego is a rotten 2-7 against the odds this year and the Chargers are just 4-8 spreadwise in their last dozen away games dating back to the start of last season.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL NEWS/NOTES
Look at who's the king of New York! It's the Miss State Bulldogs, that's who, after the SEC squad banged out a hard-fought 67-57 win against 3 ½-point fav Arizona in the championship game of Friday night's 2K Classic at NYC's Madison Square Garden.
The under-the-radar Dawgs - who bopped 4 ½-point fav Texas A&M 69-60 in Thursday's semifinal round game - are off to a rollicking 4-1 SU (straight-up) start and that's a whole lot better than last year's start that included Hawaiian fisticuffs by a couple of then-Miss State teammates ... remember?
The MVP of this tourney - Miss State's Arnett Moultrie - finished with 19 points and 10 rebs against the 'Zona Wildcats but how about the fact State held Arizona to just 6-of-20 shooting from beyond the three-point arc and to just 40.4 percent shooting on the game? Maybe there will be some other teams besides mighty Kentucky to keep an eye out for in the SEC, after all.
NOTE: Catch our NFL Week 11 Sunday Night Preview - that's the Philadelphia Eagles at the New York Giants - in the next edition of Jim Sez.