Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 10:14 AM
Think about if for just a moment or two ...We're just one week before an NFL tripleheader on Thanksgiving Day and here's the Philadelphia Eagles - the team once-upon-a-time known as the "Dream Team" - irrelevant and the Peyton Manning-less Indianapolis Colts still without a win and just about set to clinch next spring's NFL numero uno draft pick.
Why do we bring this up?
'Cause between the Eagles and the Colts these franchises have combined for an amazing 34 post-season appearances the past 10 years and yet in this here-and-now 2011 campaign the field has been flipped - the Birds and Colts are "also rans" in this NFL field - and it only seems that the rest of the NFL is fighting an uphill battle just to get on the level of the 9-and-oh Green Bay Packers.
And just one more win for the Pack - this Sunday against two-TD underdog Tampa Bay - and Turkey Day will officially kick off with one of the NFL's biggest games of the year with Green Bay at Detroit. Yum-yum!
You're right, better not get ahead of ourselves here as there's a slew of ultra-important NFL Week 11 games before we get to Thanksgiving Day ... just sayin'!
We'll get to this week's Thursday Night TV tilt in just a moment but first this reminder:
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will win big-time all week and weekend long as we zoom deeper into the month of November with NFL Week #11 play plus along with NCAA Football and NCAA Basketball. Remember that Jim Hurley's darted right out of the 2011-12 College basketball starting gate with a sizzling 10-5 start that included with Rhode Island (+16½) over Texas along with Evansville's outright win against Butler. Hey, there's lots more hoop winners, so get 'em each/every day. Make sure you're all aboard for all the football action right through Super Bowl XLVI on February 5th - and all the College B-Ball winners through next March. Just remember to call our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here online for the NFL, NCAA Football and NCAA Basketball Winners!
THURSDAY NITE NFL ACTION
NEW YORK JETS (5-4) at DENVER (4-5) - 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Tim Tebow Fever ... have you caught it yet?
Maybe the single-most polarizing figure in recent NFL lore, Tebow is the centerpiece player in this under-the-lights bash in the Mile High City and the $64,000 exists and that's can a team that only throws the ball 7 or 8 times a game win on this level?
No question last week's 17-10 win at 3-point fav Kansas City was one of the nutty stat games in NFL history as Tebow completed only 2-of-8 passes - one of them a brilliantly-thrown 56-yard scoring strike to speedy WR Eric Decker - and the Broncos rushed the ball 55 times (or 87.3 percent of the time they had the ball) and who wants to hear from Jets CB Darrelle Revis that the NYJ secondary might get "bored" here ... hey, Darrelle, were you bored last Sunday night when washed-up WR Chad Ochocinco ran right past you on a couple of bit completions in New England's easy 37-16 win against the J-E-T-S?
If the Jets are gonna quiet their increasing band of media critics this week than not only will the secondary have to come up with a couple of plays here when Tebow does chuck it deep plus NYJ's gotta get its own offense in gear after QB Mark Sanchez threw two INTs, was sacked five times and called the "worst timeout in NFL history" according to his own head coach Rex Ryan.
Spread Notes - The NY Jets are just 4-5 ATS (against the spread) this 2011 season and did you know this AFC East crew is a collective 14-13 spreadwise as betting favorites in the Ryan Era? On the flip side, Denver's also 4-5 vig-wise this season but the Broncos have covered three of their last four since Tebow snagged a starting role. Note that Denver is 0-4 spreadwise at home this year and a composite 7-20-1 ATS as hosts since the start of the 2008 campaign.
THE THURSDAY COLLEGE TV PREVIEW
Note the number below reflect the current BCS Standings:
NORTH CAROLINA (6-4, 2-4 ACC) at #8 VIRGINIA TECH (9-1, 5-1 ACC) - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Virginia Tech Hokies may not be perfect - just remember that 23-3 home loss versus Clemson back on Oct. 1st - but they could wind up this here-and-now season with a fourth ACC championship within a five-year span and note Frank Beamer's bunch gets into another conference championship tilt with a win here and a Virginia loss at Florida State come Saturday.
Here, the 11-point home-favored Hokies - the ACC's Coastal Division leaders - will bank on a red-hot offense to carry the night as Tech's finished their last five games in a row with 400-plus offensive yards and that includes last Thursday's 476-yard output in a 37-26 win at Georgia tech.
No doubt getting-better-all-the-time QB Logan Thomas (two TD passes and one rushing score against the Yellow Jackets) was a front-and-center star along with RB David Wilson who busted loose for a career-best 175 rushing yards and remember that Wilson now has an FBS-leading 1,360 ground yards on the year.
Call it a pick-your-poison night for the visiting Tar Heels who have not played since getting blanked 13-0 by Tobacco Road rival N.C. State back on Nov. 5th. The Tar Heels - who had scored 38 and 49 in their two games prior to that whitewash loss - lost QB Bryn Renner (concussion) in that affair but interim head coach Everett Withers claims Renner is "doing fine" and should be good-to-go here.
If Carolina has any hopes of landing an outright upset KO blow here, than Renner - who has been sacked 22 times this season including 14 times in UNC's last five games - must avoid the negative plays and freshman RB Giovani Bernard (1,012 yards rushing and a 5.4 ypc average with 11 TDs) has to flip the field with some big runs ... or else!
Spread Notes - Virginia Tech is a money-burning 3-7 ATS (against the spread) despite last week's aforementioned 37-26 win at 2-point underdog Georgia Tech. Note that the VT Hokies have failed to cover 4-of-6 games in ACC play this year after having cranked out a 13-4 ATS mark in conference play the two previous seasons. On the flip side, North Carolina is just 4-6 against the odds this season and the Tar Heels failed to cover both of their games when placed in the underdog role (a 35-28 loss at 6 ½-point fav Georgia Tech and a 59-38 setback versus 9 ½-point favorite Clemson).
OUR WEEKLY HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH
Now, here's our Top 5 Heisman Trophy candidates in all as we roll into play this coming weekend:
1 - ANDREW LUCK, QB, STANFORD - Conventional wisdom says the Cardinal's junior slinger should have fallen off his #1 perch following last Saturday's 53-30 home loss to Oregon but we'll keep Luck hanging on at the top of the Heisman Trophy Watch List ... barely. The season-long stats include 2,695 yards passing with 29 TDs and 7 INTs and even that two-INT game last weekend against the Ducks shouldn't crush 'em when you consider Stanford is 9-1 overall (and 8-1-1 against the always-important Las Vegas prices) and that "body of work" deal works in Luck's favor here but he needs to have a big stat showing against archrival California this Saturday.
2 - CASE KEENUM, QB, HOUSTON - Following three weeks in either the #4 or #5 spot in our Jim Sez Heisman Trophy Watch List, we've elevated the Cougars' senior slinger to runner-up status after he threw for a rather modest 325 yards and 3 TDs in last Thursday's 73-17 win at Tulane. The up-to-date numbers on Keenum now include 3,951 yards passing with 37 TDs and 3 INTs and his 10-and-oh Coogs have fast becoming one of this year's true feel-good stories in the sport. Agree?
3 -- BRANDON WEEDEN, QB, OKLAHOMA STATE - Will it be a blessing or a curse when this senior slingers plays national TV games here tomorrow night at Iowa State and on Dec. 3rd when archrival Oklahoma comes calling to Stillwater? The Weeden campaign to capture this year's Heisman Trophy has been legit with the Big 12 mega-star already having thrown for 3,635 passing yards to go along with 31 TDs and 9 INTs and keep in mind he's led the ultra-explosive Pokes to 50-plus point outings in six of his team's 10 games en route to this spiffy 10-0 start.
4 - TRENT RICHARDSON, RB, ALABAMA - The 'Bama back has appeared in all but two of our Jim Sez Heisman Trophy lists since we started compiling them back in late September and he remains the lone non-QB in our quintet here. Richardson last week got back to "normal" with 32 carries for 127 yards and one TD in Alabama's 24-7 win at 18 ½-point dog Miss State and so the year-long stats now read 1,205 yards rushing (a haughty 5.9 ypc average) with 18 TDs and don't forget those 25 receptions for 318 yards (31.8 ypc).
5 - AARON MURRAY, QB, GEORGIA - The SEC puts forth a second member in our Watch List as this Bulldogs makes his debut following last week's 45-7 win against 11 ½-point pup Auburn. The fiery sophomore threw for 224 yards and 4 TDs while completing 14-of-18 passing attempts and his stats now show 'em to have thrown for 2,284 yards and 27 TDs with just 8 INTs.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL NEWS/NOTES
Hey, there's a big-time twin-bill at Madison Square Garden in the semifinals of the 2K Classic Championship with #19 Texas A&M playing Miss State in the opener (7 p.m. ET on espn2) while the nightcap brings us #15 Arizona against St. John's (3-0) and there's already been plenty of buzz regarding this Red Storm crew that's almost exclusively an all-freshman team for second-year head coach Steve Lavin.
The Johnnies needed to rally for second-half wins at Carnesecca Arena last week against both William & Mary and Lehigh but no such theatrics were needed in last Sunday's 82-59 win against Maryland-Baltimore County as G Nurideen Lindsey fell short of a triple-double by just on assist (that's 15 points, 10 rebounds and 9 dimes) and now Lavin and Red Storm Nation is quite curious how this kiddy team plays under the bright lights in New York City against a 'Zona crew that's also off to a 3-0 start.
So far, the 'Cats have held foes to 38 percent shooting from the floor while Sean Miller's gang has four players averaging in double figures including leading scorer Kyle Fogg (14.7 ppg).
A good test for both these power-conference teams here in mid-November.
NOTE: Get our College Football key Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez.