Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, September 19, 2013 at 10:10 AM
in offices 'round the land, there are all kinds of "pools" when it comes to the National Football League:
The now-famous "knockout pools" are fun - and ultra-popular - where you choose an NFL team every week that you think will win regardless of the Las Vegas pointspread while not repeating that same team as your choice the remainder of the season.
Then there's the "points system pool" where you must pick each/every game on an NFL card while designating 16 points for your top play and so on down to 1 point for your bottom or smallest play.
But here's something that might be fun ...
How about a pool where you see which NFL team will be unbeaten the longest this year?
Right now as we enter NFL Week 3 there are eight NFL teams that have sprung out of the SU (straight-up) starting gate at 2-and-oh including Chicago, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Miami, New England, New Orleans and Seattle ... so who's gonna stay undefeated for the longest period of time, we wonder.
It is a good question, right?
One little side note here: The above-mentioned eight unbeaten teams in the NFL are a composite 8-7-1 ATS (against the spread) so far - maybe not as good as you might think, right? In fact, only Denver, Miami and Seattle are 2-0 both SU and ATS. Hmmm.
Well, in today's edition of Jim Sez we check in on all eight NFL teams that are without a loss thus far with special emphasis on the prime-time game tonight in Philadelphia - so let's get it started already!
Tonight, it's ...
KANSAS CITY (2-0) at PHILADELPHIA (1-1) - 8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network
The big man is back in town. One-time/long-time Philly Eagles head coach Andy Reid will be patrolling the enemy sideline this evening at "The Link" and, after 14 years with the Birds, he's gotten himself a nice little KC club here with born-again QB Alex Smith off and rollin' (see four TD passes and 0 INTs) but the key to this prime-time clash is do the Chiefs have the defensive answers in handling QB Michael Vick (631 yards passing with 4 TDs and 0 INTs) and his varied cast of pass-catchers?
Everyone's looking for a ton of points to be scored in this one but it won't surprise us here at Jim Hurley's Network if this game goes "under" the 51-point price - let's see some red-zone stops on both sides and/or Smith and Vick miscues and then you'll see something more in the low-to-mid 40s.
Spread Notes - Kansas City has split its two pointspread verdicts thus far in 2013 with a spread win at Jacksonville and a spread loss versus Dallas but note the Chiefs were favored in both of these tilts. Last year KayCee registered a shabby 5-10 ATS mark as underdog sides under then-head coach Romeo Crennel and note overall the Chiefs are 3-10 vig-wise away dating back to late in the 2011 campaign. Meanwhile, Philadelphia is a collective 4-13-1 against the odds while dating back to the start of last season and the Eagles are 0-6-1 ATS as betting favorites during this exact time span.
In other NFL Week 3 games this Sunday involving league unbeaten, it's ...
TAMPA BAY (0-2) at NEW ENGLAND (2-0) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Here's hoping Patriots' QB Tom Brady has calmed down a bit following his tirade-filled performance in last Thursday's 13-10 non-cover win against the New York Jets. Sure, Brady and his new cast of pass-catchers were not often on the "same page" but the extra prep time here should help plus the fact New England's real game plan should be to run right at a Tampa Bay defensive front that's hurting - looks like the "right spot" to lay a TD with Bill Belichick's crew, eh?
HOUSTON (2-0) at BALTIMORE (1-1) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS
It's become obvious that this year's Texans already have become the "cardiac kids" of this man's league with that buzzer-beater win at San Diego in Week 1 followed last Sunday by an electric 30-24 non-cover OT win against Tennessee. Maybe rookie WR DeAndre Hopkins (a 15.3 yards-per-catch average on his 12 catches this season) will be a fourth-quarter menace to the Ravens here ... you have been warned!
ARIZONA (1-1) at NEW ORLEANS (2-0) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
The "Who Dat's" surely had some luck on their side last weekend in that 17-16 win at Tampa Bay as Bucs PK Rian Lindell missed a 46-yarder with a minute remaining that would have put the Tampa Bay Bucs in good shape and instead New Orleans kicker Garrett Hartley won it at the gun with a 27-yard FG boot. Gotta believe that Hartley's a big key here for a Saints team that went 0-for-4 in the red-zone a week ago. Maybe the Saints' sidewinder bangs home another three or four FGs in this clash but the points sure do look inviting - the road team is a full touchdown pup at press time -- if Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald gets more involved (see just two catches for 33 yards last Sunday in a 25-21 win against Detroit).
ATLANTA (1-1) at MIAMI (2-0) - 4:05 p.m. ET, Fox
As we pointed out in yesterday's Jim Sez column, there's only been five other NFL teams in the past decade that have started off a season with back-to-back road wins/covers and so "hats off" to the Dolphins who look to follow up those wins in Cleveland and Indianapolis with a rousing home opener here. The Fish placated WR Mike Wallace (9 catches for 115 yards in last week's win in Indy after one-catch opener) and tell us right now that he's a 100-yard catch guy here and we'll tell you Miami covers the 3-point price tag.
JACKSONVILLE (0-2) at SEATTLE (2-0) - 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS
Not sure we're gonna have a twenty-something Las Vegas price tag here for this Jaguars-Seahawks clash in the great northwest but know this:
Seattle is a sizzling 20-6 versus the vig at home ever since head coach Pete Carroll came aboard in 2010 ... va-va-va vomm!
On Sunday Night, it's ...
CHICAGO (2-0) at PITTSBURGH (0-2) - 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Hey, the Bears are the NFL's only unbeaten team that's yet to cover a pointspread while copping back-to-back home games thanks to a season-opening 24-21 "push" against Cincinnati and last week's 31-30 non-cover comeback win against Minnesota but the question here is can the always-opportunistic Bears defense force Steelers slinger Ben Roethlisberger into some bad throws here? Not often the Steelers are home dogs but taking 2 ½ points right now and looking rather lifeless, wouldn't you say?
On Monday Night, it's ...
OAKLAND (1-1) at DENVER (2-0) - 8:40 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Broncos are averaging 45 points through season-starting wins/covers against Baltimore and the New York Giants but what really encouraged Denver last week were those two turn-the-corner TD runs by RB Knowshon Moreno - might he be the real "fantasy" steal this year. Note this Las Vegas price tag is up to 15 points and the last time Denver laid more than a two-TD price was way back in the 2005 season (a 12-10 non-cover win against 15-point pup Baltimore).
Now hear this ...
Now hear this ...My handicappers/bloggers will blast Las Vegas and the off-shore books all week/weekend long beginning with the Thursday Night Football Sides & Totals winners when the Kansas City Chiefs play at the Philadelphia Eagles in NFL Week 3 action while it's #3 Clemson at N.C. State in NCAA Football prime-time play - and we'll keep winning right through this September weekend! Check with the Jim Hurley Network right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-888-777-4155 after 1 p.m. ET on week days and any time after 10 a.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday. Plus get all our down-the-stretch Major-League Baseball winners too! The MLB Playoffs are just two weeks away!
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT
Here's a pair of Top 25 games of interest that we'll be keeping a close eye on this Saturday ...
MICHIGAN STATE (3-0) at #22 NOTRE DAME (2-1) - 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC
This has been a real streaky rivalry as ND Fighting Irish has covered the last three in a row after M-State Spartans had gone 4-0-1 vig-wise in the five prior showdowns - and now folks well aware that Brian Kelly's golden domers are 0-3 spreadwise this year. If State has upset hopes as 6 ½-point dogs then 101st-ranked passing "attack" must make some chunk plays and that means new #1 Connor Cook (4 TDs and 0 INTs) must not be shy about chuckin' it deep.
PURDUE (1-2) at #24 WISCONSIN (2-1) - 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN
Think the Wisky Badgers head into this game feeling the on-field zebras "owe them something" after Pac-12 officials put the screws to Gary Andersen's gang last Saturday night in the desert? No question the bloated 24-point price looks a bit scary but gotta believe Wisconsin QB Joel Stave (603 yards passing with 6 TDs and 2 INTs) will go off against wobbly Boiler secondary. Looks like one of those 55-14 type games, if you ask us!
In other College Football News & Notes ...
It is - without a question - a program in major turmoil these days but is the media and other NCAA football teams shoveling dirt prematurely on the Texas Longhorns?
Consider that Mack Brown's club enters Saturday's home game against Big 12 rival Kansas State with a shabby 1-2 SU mark - a so-what win against New Mexico State was followed up by back-to-back losses at BYU and Ole Miss - and everyone knows the 'Horns have allowed a bundle of points in their last two games.
That's 40 points allowed versus BYU, That's 44 points allowed versus Ole Miss ... and one defensive coordinator (see Manny Diaz) already sacked by Brown following the 40-21 loss in Provo back on Sept. 7th.
Right, new DC Greg Robinson didn't work any miracles last weekend in the 44-23 home loss to the Ole Miss Rebels as the Texas defense yielded 453 yards (or 6.3 yards per play) and generally had that deer-in-the-headlight look once again.
Still, the Longhorns could turn the beat around with just one win here against K-State: Even with the grumbling at an all-time high - remember this is Brown's 16th season in Austin and he's heard "fire the coach" rumblings before - the fact of the matter is we've got a long way to go this season and Texas QB Case McCoy does come off a solid 24-of-36, 196-yard passing game with no picks and he could be a turn-the-season-around kind of player.
For all the folks who have been saying Brown's a goner if/when his Texas team loses to Kansas State and then again on Oct. 12th against archrival Oklahoma, remember this: If the 'Horns WIN both of these high-profile games, they could be headed for a BCS bowl game - and so let's see how all this plays out in the famed Lone Star State and let's give Brown the whole year to show what he's got. Don't 15 mostly successful seasons - including a national title back in 2005 - allow Brown to be cut some slack?
NOTE: More NCAA Football and NFL Week 3 action coming your way in the next couple of Jim Sez columns!