Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, September 23, 2012 at 9:38 AM
Hey, it's kind of neat that there are only six undefeated teams left in the NFL- and two of the Week 3 games pit fellow unbeatens versus one another (see Atlanta at San Diego and Philadelphia at Arizona).
Got a feeling the 1972 Miami Dolphins- celebrating their 40th anniversary "perfect season"- will be popping those champagne bottles sooner rather than later this year? Us too!
Meanwhile, there's a slew of top-flight games on the NFL Week 3 sked and we'll gladly get to that Sunday Night Preview- that's New England at Baltimore- in the very next edition of Jim Sez but here we'll concentrate on four big pro games with three of 'em slated for that "late afternoon" TV window.
NFL Syndicate Parlay Has Swept 12 of 17 and Sweeps Again Sunday!
Now here's a look at the NFL Week 3 Key Sunday afternoon previews:
HOUSTON (2-0) at DENVER (1-1)- 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS
What ... no prime-time game here for Denver QB Peyton Manning?
Okay, so the Broncos- finally- are back to playing day-time football and no doubt everybody will be watching to see if Manning is on target out of the starting gate after he aired three first-quarter picks (in the first eight minutes, no less) in last Monday's loss in Atlanta.
Manning shouldered all the blame for his "poor decisions" but here expect the veteran slinger to get the ball out early against a hard-charging Texans defense that really has not be threatened by amateurish quarterbacks from Miami and Jacksonville these first two weeks of 2012 play.
Hey, if you want to focus on something here that's not Manning-related, than check out how the Texans challenge Broncos CB Champ Bailey who- it seems to us- isn't exactly recorded the same type respect these days he used to garner and so Houston WR Andre Johnson (11 catches so far this year) could be kept quite busy in his head-to-head moments with Bailey here.
Spread Notes - Houston has covered its last five games in a row while dating back to last year and note the Texans are a solid 7-3 ATS (against the spread) away since the start of last season. On the flip side, Denver's split its first two out-of-the-box games in 2012 and the Broncos are 10-24-2 vig-wise at home the past four-plus seasons (that's a shabby .294 winning rate).
ATLANTA (2-0) at SAN DIEGO (2-0)- 4:05 p.m. ET, Fox
No doubt the early Tuesday morning DUI arrest of Atlanta Falcons RB Michael Turner cast a pall over the team's heady 27-21 Monday Night Football win against Denver and now there's some question as to whether the Falcs will let him play or not here- stay alert for the updates as we close in on this key tilt on the left coast (and remember the opponent here was Turner's original team back in the day when he played backup to LaDainian Tomlinson).
In any event, the NFL's top-rated passer- that's Atlanta QB Matt Ryan- has completed 70 percent of his passes this year and gotta believe he will be eyeballing old Chargers rival TE Tony Gonzalez (12 receptions for 123 yards this season) and how the Bolts defend him in the red zone is ultra-critical.
Spread Notes - San Diego is 2-and-oh spreadwise for the first time since 2006 (and note the Chargers failed to cover that year's Week 3 tilt at Baltimore) but did you know this AFC West crew failed to cover all four of its games versus NFC competition last year? Atlanta is already 2-0 ATS against AFC teams this year with those covers at Kansas City and home to Denver plus these Falcons are 28-16-1 ATS when playing non-NFC South foes dating back to the start of the 2008 season.
PHILADELPHIA (2-0) at ARIZONA (2-0)- 4:05 p.m. ET, Fox
Okay, so this year's Philly Eagles are the "kings of the close call" with one-point wins against Cleveland and Baltimore- but truth is Andy Reid's club hardly deserved to win either of these interconference games with a glut of turnovers (see four QB Michael Vick picks in Week One and another pair in last week's home tilt against the Ravens) and that's no way to survive in this man's NFL!
If Vick and Company decides to operate the no-huddle attack here, than slipping in draws/screens to RB LeSean McCoy is key. Hey, McCoy should be making some replacement official happy with his "fantasy league" stats here (just kidding, NFL!).
Note that Arizona is 27th in the league in passing offense and 25th in rushing offense and yet the Redbirds have clawed out four- and two-point wins against Seattle and New England, respectively, but one major question here can the Cards get WR Larry Fitzgerald injected back into their offense one week after he nabbed just one QB Kevin Kolb pass worth four yards? Yikes!
Spread Notes- Arizona's in search of its first 3-and-oh (or better) spread start since that 4-0 ATS beginning back in 2007 and remember that was head coach Ken Whisenhunt's first year on the job. Meanwhile, Philadelphia is a rotten 7-16 odds-wise when playing non-divisional opponents the past two-plus seasons and that includes the non-cover wins against Cleveland and Baltimore to start off this current campaign.
SAN FRANCISCO (2-0) at MINNESOTA (1-1)- 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Let's see if the beat goes on for the SF 49ers who look to trump a third consecutive NFC North foe following those pair of 8-point wins against Green Bay and Detroit.
Safe to say that Niners' boss-man Jim Harbaugh will be telling his QB Alex Smith to slide earlier following that late-game pop to his nose against the Lions last week (a major cheap shot!) but how about the fact the oft-criticized Smith so far has completed 40-of-57 passes (that's 70.2 percent) as a neat complement to the NFL's third-ranked rushing attack that is averaging a haughty 167 yards a game?
If sledgehammer RB Frank Gore (201 rushing yards this year) proves to be the best back on the field here against Minny's Adrian Peterson than San Fran will head to "The Big Apple" next week picture-perfect.
Spread Notes- San Francisco is now 14-5-1 ATS overall since the start of last year (a .737 winning rate) and note the Niners are a tasty 12-4 versus the vig as betting favorites while dating back to late in the 2010 season. Minnesota heads into this NFL Week 3 clash at 12-22-2 ATS overall since the start of 2010.
NFL WEEK 3 KEY SPREAD STATS
Let's go 'round the league with some NFL Week 3 Key Spread Stats ...
The Buffalo Bills venture to Cleveland this weekend and do you know the only time the Bills have been installed as road favorites in their last 18 road games was a 23-20 loss at 3-point home pup Cincinnati last season?
Since 2006, the Dallas Cowboys have covered all four of their head-to-head showdowns against Tampa Bay and that includes last year's 31-15 triumph at the TD-underdog Bucs
The last time the Detroit Lions started off a season at 0-3 ATS (or worse) was back in 2008 when those Motowners began 0-4 versus the vig
Indianapolis is a shabby 3-7 ATS in its last 10 home games against the Jacksonville Jaguars
Last year the Kansas City Chiefs registered a 9-3 ATS mark when placed in the underdog role; this year KC's already 0-2 ATS as pups with spread setbacks against Atlanta and Buffalo
The New York Jets last year went 3-6 ATS whenever coming off a spread loss and this week in Miami the J-E-T-S are coming off that putrid 27-10 loss at 4 ½-point fav Pittsburgh
Finally, Washington is playing its home opener this weekend against the Cincinnati Bengals and did you know the Redskins are 3-1-1 ATS in their last five home lid-lifters?
IT'S TIME TO PUT A WRAP ON THE NFL WEEK 3 SUNDAY GAME PREVIEWS AS WE DISSECT TONIGHT'S MONSTER MATCHUP
BETWEEN THE PATS & RAVENS ...
COLLEGE FOOTBALL QUICK HITTERS INCLUDES SOUR SOONERS AND MESSAGE-SENDING 'NOLES
By Jim Hurley:
You've all heard the rumblings this week:
One of these Sunday Night Football teams-either the New England Patriots or the Baltimore Ravens-is gonna have a losing record after this prime-time tilt but the real $64,000 question is which team will play with a greater "sense of urgency" here?
On one hand, the Pats-who bungled their way to a 20-18 Week 2 home loss against two-TD dog Arizona last week-now know what it's like to have their placekicker miss a big-time field goal at that end of Gillette Stadium as PK Stephen Gostowski's 42-yard misfire last Sunday still has Patriot Nation in a bad mood while the Ravens couldn't take advantage of a batch of Philadelphia Eagles miscues in last week's 24-23 non-cover win by that NFC East team ...And does anyone need to be reminded that the Ravens didn't play in last year's Super Bowl because of that PK Billy Cundiff miss from 32 yards out?
Let's get to the Patriots-Ravens preview already ...
NEW ENGLAND (1-1) at BALTIMORE (1-1)-8:25 p.m. ET, NBC
Gut feeling here is that the Ravens defense-one that ranks 25th in the league against the pass (allowing 275 yards per game) and 20th against the run (yielding 129 ypg)-must play a bit unconventional here while attempting to deal with New England QB Tom Brady simply because the Pats slinger figures to test Baltimore with lots of aerials aimed at TE Rob Gronkowski (12 receptions and 2 TDs so far in 2012) while better-than-you-think RB Stevan Ridley (196 yards rushing and averaging 5.0 yards a pop so far) will get his share of inside handoffs and the like.
True, Brady sports a lowly 69.1 QB rating in his six career starts against Baltimore-that's his lowest figure against any NFL team-but those recent editions of the Raven defenses was quicker/younger and so stay tuned for some "kitchen sink" blitzes here and maybe a few big sacks to boot.
One item when Baltimore has possession of the football: It's time for John Harbaugh's guys to "feed" RB Ray Rice more:
Do you believe in this newfangled pass-more Baltimore offense that Rice has rushed the ball a grand total of 26 times in season-opening games against Cincinnati and Philadelphia (and the dude's still averaging 6.4 yards a tote).
Quickie memo to the Ravens: Get Rice 20-plus carries here or risk that aforementioned 1-and-2 SU (straight-up) start!
Spread Notes - Baltimore has banged out back-to-back spread wins out of the 2012 starting gate but did you realize the Ravens are just 10-10-1 ATS (against the spread) in their last 21 overall home games? On the flip side, New England is 11-3 versus the vig as underdog sides while dating back to the start of 2006 and the Patriots are a meaty 12-6 ATS away the past two-plus seasons and that includes their Week 1 win/cover at Tennessee.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL QUICK HITTERS
Hope you didn't have any serious moolah on the Oklahoma Sooners winning it all this year! And hope you had our September to Remember Wipeout Game of the Month as we took Kansas State (+16.5) over Oklahoma!
The annual crash-and-burn job came early for Bob Stoops crew as last night's 24-19 home loss against 15 ½-point pup Kansas State featured loads of "lowlights" including three burned timeouts on defense-we knew it wasn't a good idea for Stoops to re-hire his brother and former Arizona head coach Mike who remains an out-of-control character on the sidelines whose defense never did get a big stop against do-it-all QB Collin Klein.
Toss into the mix some ultra-silly decisions by Oklahoma QB Landry Jones-his alleged Heisman Trophy campaign went down the drain last night too-as off-the-wrong-foot passes, bad reads and that critical near-his-own-goal-line lost fumble for a K-State touchdown cost OU all night as the Sooners were out-executed most of the evening while Jones led an offense that turned it over three times in all while K-State didn't commit a single miscue (and truth is Kansas State should have intercepted two or three other Jones passes as well) ...
Finally, #4 Florida State showed major gumption in last night's 49-37 win against Clemson-not only did the Seminoles pour it on with 35 second-half points-but quarterback EJ Manuel surely tossed his Heisman Trophy hat into the proverbial ring with that career-best 380-yard passing performance that also included two TD strikes along with 102 yards rushing but how about the fact that there is a true running game back in Tallahassee (see 40 carries for 287 yards or 7.2 yards-a-pop)?
Funny that Clemson "back-doored" the Las Vegas pointspread cover last night with a fourth-and-goal completion very late-the TV cameras caught FSU's defensive coaches imploring their unit to make a stop there and get Florida State alums/fans the cash, but that's one thing that didn't work out just right for the Noles here.
Maybe we will be seeing the Seminoles in this year's BCS Championship Game!
NOTE: Get the Monday Night Football Preview-that's Green Bay at Seattle-plus lots of post-NFL Week 3 News & Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez.