Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, October 3, 2011 at 9:41 AM
Think it might be time to get back to the proverbial drawing board for two of the NFL's Preseason favorites that were supposed to reach Super Bowl 46?
The New York Jets and the Philadelphia Eagles - the latter had otherwise been known as "The Dream Team" - both woke up on this first Monday in October firm in the knowledge that 13 teams had a winning record in the NFL while heading into tonight's Indianapolis at Tampa Bay tilt and none of 'em were named J-E-T-S or Eagles.
Hard to believe?
Well, maybe not so much when you consider the circumstances: The Jets - who simply aren't as good as they said they were this year despite those back-to-back appearances in the last two AFC Championship Games - have been severely hamstrung by the absence of Pro Bowl C Nick Mangold in these last two games against Oakland and Baltimore.
Hey, anyone that watched last night's 34-17 win by the Ravens against the 5-point underdog Jets know that NYJ quarterback Mark Sanchez is merely a sitting duck back there without Mangold blocking for him but there are other issues at work here too including the fact the Jets' coaches - and we mean you, head man Rex Ryan - really don't believe all this jive about "ground-and-pound" because the Jets don't have a formidable rushing attack and RB Shonn Greene (10 carries for 23 yards on Sunday night) just isn't the type of #1 running back that can be depended on during the course of a 16-game regular season.
Toss into the mix the fact the Jets also can't stop the run - they were ranked 31st in the league while heading into the showdown game with the Ravens and promptly surrendered 112 rushing yards (albeit on 40 carries) - and there's some real dysfunction at work here.
The Jets had an over/under win total of 10 prior to the start of the year - but don't look now New England's on deck and the Jets may not be on the plus side of .500 for a long, long time (if ever) this 2011 season.
As far as the Eagles, well, they were one of a few NFL teams to crash-and-burn badly in their Week #4 game as Andy Reid's gang blew a 23-3 third-quarter lead en route to a disastrous 24-23 home loss against the 10-point underdog San Francisco 49ers and whether you cared to blame rookie PK Alex Henery for his pair of missed field goals (including a 33-yarder with 6:33 remaining that would have put the Eagles up 26-17) or whether you had a real problem with the fact Philly scored just two TDs in seven different trips into the red zone the fact of the matter is the only "dreaming" they are doing in the City of Brotherly Love is all about whether this club can even make it to the post-season this year.
On a day when QB Michael Vick threw for a career-high 418 yards and rushed for another 75 yards, the Eagles found a way to blow-torch this apparent "W" and now road games in Buffalo and Washington await the Birds before they get to a much-needed bye in Week 7. Believe us when we say this: If Philadelphia doesn't turn this ship around - and keep in mind this is a franchise that's won only three post-season games the past six years - than Reid will be history the day after the regular season is over and Vick could be belly-aching in post-game pressers for some other team come 2012.
My, how the fortunes of some big-mouthed teams sure can change in a hurry!
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PREVIEW
INDIANAPOLIS (0-3) at TAMPA BAY (2-1) - 8:35 p.m. ET, ESPN
You know the year ... 1988. Folks, that's the last time the Indianapolis Colts began a season at 0-4 SU (straight-up) and take note that Indy has not lost four in a row SU at any time in a season since 2001 but that's what likely awaits the AFC South club here as life without Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning ain't exactly a whole lot of fun. The Colts claim they will start QB Curtis Painter here against a Tampa Bay Bucs bunch that's allowed a grand total of 60 points so far in this 2011 season.
Painter's numbers thus far in '11: He's completed 45.5 percent of his passes for 60 yards. No touchdowns. No interceptions. No kidding.
On the flip side, the Bucs are fresh off one of their most emotional wins in years as last Sunday's hang-on-for-dear-life 16-13 win against one-point underdog Atlanta featured a great defensive stand late in the fourth quarter and let's not forget TB's quarterback Josh Freeman hasn't always lit it up this year (see 2 TDs and 4 INTs and averaging a ho-hum 227 yards passing per game).
The key question is: Can Indy DEs Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis be sackmeisters here? Stay tuned.
Spread Notes - Indianapolis is 3-7 ATS (against the spread) overall in its last 10 games dating back to last season but did you know the Colts are a spiffy 11-6-1 versus the vig away since the start of the 2009 campaign? Tampa Bay enters this prime-time tilt with a shabby 3-7-1 spread log when playing AFC opponents the past couple of years.
Note: In keeping with our week-to-week look at the NFL Pointspreads, take note that in Sunday's Week 4 tilts the Betting Favorites went 7-7 with one pick 'em affair (see New York Giants beating the Arizona Cardinals 31-27 in one of the day's more controversial verdicts) and so the up-to-date figures read like this:
NFL Betting Favorites are a collective 26-33-3 ATS (that's a .441 winning rate) while "Totals" players take note that "Overs" went 9-6 in Sunday's games and now are a composite 37-24-2 (a .606 winning percentage).
Extra, extra: Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will win big-time tonight as we finish off the NFL Week #4 schedule with the Colts-Bucs bash plus there's always College Football and Major-League Baseball Playoff action on tap and so make sure you're all aboard for all the action right through Super Bowl XLVI on February 5th. Hey, it's gonna be a great ride! 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 MLB Playoff winners! Go ahead and get Monday Night Football's Side/Totals winner right now!
COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEKEND UPDATE
Go ahead and mark down #8 Nebraska, #10 South Carolina, #11 Virginia Tech and #12 Florida as the weekend's "biggest losers" - after all, if any/all of the above could have won their games than they would be residing in this week's Associated Press Top 10 and with serious dreams about exploding in the polls as the weeks wore on but this foursome combined to score a grand total of 43 points - yikes! - and so let's chuck 'em to the curb for now and instead concentrate on a couple of this year's real surprise teams:
WASHINGTON STATE (3-1) - The numbers don't lie as the Wazzau Cougars registered a collective 5-32 SU mark the past three seasons under oft-baffled head coach Paul Wulff but 2011 has been a whole 'nother story! In Saturday's come-from-behind 31-27 win at 3 ½-point favorite Colorado, there were the new-and-improved Coogs scoring the game's final 14 points in the last 2:35 of play with WR Marquess Wilson snatching up the game-winning score on a 63-yard aerial bomb by QB Marshall Lobbestael with 1:10 remaining on the game clock.
The Pac-12 win by Washington State - only the school's second since the start of 2009 - featured Lobbestael throwing for 376 yards and three TDs as WSU was able to overcome 10 penalties worth 125 yards and all of a sudden there's football life back in sleepy Pullman.
Did anyone whisper something about a bowl game (none of them since 2003!)?
Up next is Saturday's road game at UCLA and just so you know, the Coogs last beat the Uclans in 2007.
KANSAS STATE (4-0) - Did you happen to see the post-game quote attributed to K-State boss-man Bill Snyder following last Saturday's wild 36-35 home win against 3 ½-point road favorite Baylor?
"Keep rowing the boat," said Snyder who clearly realizes his Big 12 team isn't anything close to national championship caliber (see his later 1990s teams) but also knows this is a whole lot of fun watching a team grow up and beat some of the big boys out there: First it was a win at 12 ½-point fav Miami two weekends ago that raised eyebrows in/around Manhattan and now this triumph over Heisman Trophy candidate QB Robert Griffin III has pushed the 'Cats into the thought processes of College Football fans 'round the land.
A gift INT by linebacker Arthur Brown - who bobbled the ball three times before getting a grip - that soon thereafter was followed by a game-winning 31-yard field goal by PK Anthony Cantele with 3:10 remaining gave K-State a fourth straight season-opening win for a second straight season. Hey, maybe there's something better ahead than a late December date with a Big East team in the next Pinstripe Bowl?
NOTE: Catch our College Football Mid-Week Report in the next edition of Jim Sez.