Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, October 7, 2013 at 8:46 AM
THE NFL WEEK 5 REPORT: BRONCOS AMONG THREE TEAMS TO NOTCH A 5-AND-OH START BUT IS THIS REALLY A SUPER BOWL DEFENSE? …PLUS OUR MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PREVIEW/FORECAST AS JETS-FALCONS CLASH … COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: OHIO STATE VS. NORTHWESTERN SHOWDOWN WASN’T THE ONLY CRAZY (POINTSPREAD) ENDING
By Jim Hurley
If you watched wall-to-wall National Football League on Sunday afternoon/evening/night – wait, are the games over yet? – then you know that much was being made of the fact that five teams entered Week 5 action with unbeaten records and only three of ‘em (that’s Denver, Kansas City and New Orleans) exited that same exact way.
If the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks wish to rewind their initial losses this 2013 season, then they’d have a batch of mis-plays that they would like to do over, plus what about the fact that just when the Pats were threatening late in their 13-6 road loss in Cincinnati the skies opened up, the rain came down hard and the conditions made the passing game next-to-impossible for QB Tom Brady and his receivers … a sign from above that this isn’t “the Patriots’ year” perhaps?
In any event, hats off to the Broncos, Chiefs and Saints for staying without a loss, but let’s not let their Week 5 wins go without some comments (and some of them critical comments too!) …
DENVER (FINALLY) PUTS A STOP TO IT
Make no mistake about it, the Broncos’ at-times wobbly defense didn’t receive much criticism at all during the course of the first four weeks of play this year, even though Denver allowed nearly 23 points a game while beating Baltimore, the NY Giants, Oakland and Philadelphia.
In Sunday’s pinball-like 51-48 non-cover triumph over host Dallas, there was Cowboys QB Tony Romo throwing for a franchise-record 506 yards with five touchdowns and scorching the Broncos’ defense to the tune of 9.7 yards per offensive play. Yikes!
Okay, so Romo did his “Tony-being-Tony” act late and threw that critical interception in the shadow of his own goal line to thus set up Denver’s game-winning chippie field goal by Matt Prater, but the Broncos must be counting the days now when OLB Von Miller (set to return in Week 7 at Indianapolis) and CB Champ Bailey (your guess is as good as ours when he returns from injury) return to this lineup because John Fox’s defense is brutal.
Maybe the fact that the QB Peyton Manning-led Broncos’ offense just set an all-time league record by scoring 230 points in its first five games skews all else, but if you think Denver is getting to the Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium this February with this defense then you’re either in denial … or else you’re a die-hard Broncos fan.
GUESS THE EAGLES FANS HAVE SOMETHING ELSE TO BOO!
Okay, so the Philadelphia Eagles snapped their three-game losing streak with Sunday’s herky-jerky 36-21 win against the host New York Giants, but many of their fans probably weren’t all that happy to see old coach Andy Reid go to 5-0 with his KC Chiefs.
The rags-to-riches story that is this year’s Kansas City squad is being penned by Reid – who we always considered one of the NFL’s top five coaches no matter what other folks said – and wasn’t it especially heartening for the Chiefs to come back from blowing a 13-0 lead en route to their 26-17 triumph at 2-point home dog Tennessee?
Still, the gut-check win wasn’t without some issues as Kansas City converted a mere 1-12 third-down plays and made good on just one TD on four different trips into the red zone.
Hey, don’t get us wrong, this was a big win for a Chiefs team that managed just two victories a year ago but even with this three-game home stand on tap – versus Oakland, Houston and Cleveland – it’s not as if everything’s totally picture perfect for Reid’s new team.
SAINTS ALIVE! … N’ORLEANS IS PARTYING LIKE IT’S 2009
Yes, it was four years ago when the New Orleans Saints charged out of the gates and won their first 13 consecutive regular-season games en route to a Super Bowl title in Miami and there’s some folks ‘round the organization who believe this 5-0 bunch has that same feel.
For starters, QB Drew Brees – who went 29-of-35 passing for 288 yards and two TDs in Sunday’s 26-18 win at Chicago – has been beyond brilliant while TE Jimmy Graham notched his fourth consecutive 100-yard receiving game with 10 catches for 135 yards but let’s not get into a Mardi Gras mood just yet.
The Saints still can’t run the ball worth a lick – just 66 yards on 28 carries or 2.4 yards a pop – and head coach Sean Payton can’t expect Brees to be spot-on each/every time he takes the field … can he?
Consider that the Saints head into New England this weekend – yes, the Pats are only a 2-point betting favorite at press time – and there’s a four-game stretch straight ahead that will be truly challenging to New Orleans:
Home to Dallas and San Francisco and then at Atlanta and Seattle between Weeks 10-thru-13. Just sayin’!
In other NFL Week 5 News & Notes …
Everyone was asking the question late Sunday night as to whether or not “it’s time” for the Houston Texans to bench QB Matt Schaub after yet another miserable showing in Sunday Night’s 34-3 loss at San Francisco.
Schaub threw a pick six for a fourth consecutive game and was intercepted three times in all, but count us among the folks such as NBC game analyst Cris Collinsworth and studio voice Tony Dungy who believe the reeling Texans (now 2-3) should stay the course – we say this week’s game against St. Louis should be the make-or-break tilt for Schaub, and then it’s either T.J. Yates or some waiver wire/trade acquisition if Schaub stumbles again. P.S., let’s just say his overall “body language” really stinks these days! …
Finally, hard not to notice the fact that the woe-be-gone Jacksonville Jaguars are a 28-point underdog at Denver this Sunday – we’ve never seen such a price in the NFL in the past 35-or-so years, and while everyone saw the eye-popping offensive numbers in the Broncos’ aforementioned in in Arlington, how about the fact the Jags – a 34-20 loser in St. Louis – had the ball for just 24:41 and committed three turnovers in dropping to 0-5?
Would a 50-10-type final score in Denver really surprise anyone this weekend?
Don’t think so.
Extra, extra …
My handicappers and bloggers have everything all scoped out and you can get the NFL Week 5 Monday Night Football Side & Totals winners when you check with us here at Jim Hurley’s Network – cash in on this New York Jets at Atlanta Falcons bash – and then keep rollin’ in the green all week long with NCAA Football, the NFL and the MLB Playoffs.
Check with us on game days either here online or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 – make this an October to remember!
In the NFL Week 5 game tonight, it’s …
NEW YORK JETS (2-2) at ATLANTA (1-3) – 8:40 p.m. ET, ESPN
Think anyone’s suggested to the Atlanta Falcons that it’s put-up or shut-up time here?
The NFC South crew has discovered ways to lose three games this year (by a composite total of 17 points), and just how many times are we gonna have to watch the Birds fail to score when inside the opponent’s 10-yard line late?
As folks know, that was the script dating back to last year’s 28-24 NFC Championship Game loss at home to San Francisco, and it was eerily similar in losses to New Orleans and New England already this year.
Red-zone woes have really done the Falcons in – they rank 29th in the 32-team NFL in red-zone offense so far this season – and so maybe even mistake-prone rookie QB Geno Smith of the New York J-E-T-S (see 8 INTs and 3 lost fumbles) has a shot to hang in there this evening although count us among the folks that believe the Jets probably need to score a defensive/special teams TD or two in order to cover the price tag here.
Spread Notes – Atlanta is 30-19-1 ATS (against the spread) as betting favorites while dating back to the start of the 2009 season but the Falcons have failed to cover their two games this season against AFC East opponents (versus Miami and New England). On the flip side, the Jets have covered three of their first four games this young season but “gang green” is just 7-11 spreadwise away since the start of 2011.
11-6 last year on MNF and 65% Winners Last 3 Years!
COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK
When you talk to your buddies about great betting stories – yes, the losses make for way better stories than the wins (unfortunately) – it may be tough to top last Saturday night’s Ohio State at Northwestern game.
The fourth-ranked Buckeyes won 40-30 as 6 ½-point betting favorites, but anyone that’s watched the final play – a lateral deal where Ohio State fell on the ball in the Northwestern end zone after the Wildcats’ offensive play started on their own 19-yard line – knows it doesn’t get crazier than that especially when you consider the ‘Cats led 30-27 with five-plus minutes remaining in the game.
Still, that wasn’t the only killer play lost on this first Saturday in October:
How about having Rutgers (- 3 ½) and leading 21-0 and 35-14 and losing by a half-point in triple-OT?
The Scarlet Knights – who won the game 55-52 -- scored the game-winning TD but didn’t have to kick the PAT after an SMU field goal opened up scoring in the third overtime and thus Kyle Flood’s crew burnt more than a few folks in that wacky tilt.
In case you’re keeping track, that’s the second game this year in which Rutgers yielded a 52-point total in an OT game (see the 52-51 loss-but-cover at Fresno State in the season opener) but this one likely will stick in bettor’s minds for a long time.
Here’s your weekly pointspread update from the College Kids:
NCAA Betting Favorites banged out a 30-25 ATS mark this past week/weekend and so for the year it looks like this:
College Football Betting Favs now are 145-127-3 (with one pick ‘em game) for a .533 winning rate for the chalk-eaters.
NOTE: Catch our Jim Hurley Mid-Week Report in the next column right here!