Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, October 21, 2013 at 8:39 AM
Peyton Manning got the warm minute-plus ovation prior to the start of Sunday Night's game.
He got the hearty handshakes from old friends with the Indianapolis Colts after the game.
He just didn't get what he came for -a seventh straight season-opening win for the Denver Broncos.
In fact, despite the fact the Broncos totaled three turnovers while Manning was sacked four times, there was the AFC West team with an outside shot to win or at least force overtime late in a game that had more "mood swings" then one could count.
Suffice to say, Manning's homecoming at Lucas Oil Field was an emotionally-charged evening but the Broncos didn't exactly play up to their press clippings and the one-time Colts franchise quarterback had his fair share of bad throws, bad decisions and three-and-outs (see five of them within a six-possession sequence between the second and third quarters). It was hardly vintage Peyton Manning even if the game-ending stats looked decent (see 29-of-49 passing for 386 yards with 3 TDs and 1 INT).
It was great staying up late and hear the buttoned-down Manning laud the crowd for their kind applause and you just knew he would squash all that silly talk that came from Indy owner Jim Irsay -but one thing both the NBC and NFL Network guys/gals chose to ignore following the Colts' 39-33 win was the fact that Indianapolis (5-2) now is just one game back of Denver in terms of down-the-road AFC Playoff seeding (we say it's never too early to check out such stuff!) and obviously Indy now owns that particular tie-breaker.
So, could you imagine -just for a second -if Manning has to come back to Indianapolis in January for a playoff game or, heaven forbid, the AFC Championship Game itself simply because the Broncos lost here in Week 7 play?
Hey, stranger things have happened!
What really qualifies as the other storylines inside that Colts' win was the fact Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck completed 21-of-38 passing for 228 yards with 3 TDs and 0 INTs to go along with 29 important rushing yards -and we told you in last week's Jim Sez Preview/Forecast that Luck had to make some big third-down plays with his legs and he did -and the second-year stud didn't flinch at all with the bright lights on.
Plus the Colts defense showed every NFL team this is now a "blueprint" for beating Manning and heavy heat is the key recipe ...of course.
On a night when Manning and Luck were the guys hogging most of the camera time, it was old hand DE Robert Mathis of the Colts whose strip-sack of Manning turned into essentially a nine-point play (see safety and ensuing TD) and it was the secondary starring CB Vontae Davis that rarely allowed Denver's pass-catchers to get much separation.
Hey, we'll forgive Davis for afterwards referring to Manning as "Tom Brady" -guess he got a little excited too.
We'll dig into a couple of other NFL Week 7 key storylines in just a second plus get you're the MNF preview/forecast of the game between the Minnesota Vikings at the New York Giants but first this key reminder ...
My handicappers and bloggers have everything all mapped out for tonight's Vikings-Giants game and you can get the winner when you check with us here at Jim Hurley's Network at the toll-free # of 1-800-323-4453 or right here online.
Get all the NCAA Football, NFL Week 8 and World Series game-by-game winners as the St. Louis Cardinals meet the Boston Red Sox beginning Wednesday night at Fenway Park and don't miss a beat as we've been scorching hot ...how about the Vanderbilt come-from-behind 31-27 win against 6 ½-point favorite Georgia last Saturday and the 34-29 win by Memphis against 3 ½-point home fav SMU? Bash the books all week long with America's #1 Handicapper!
NFL Week 7
As we like to say in these columns, go ahead and raise your hand if you believed at season's start that the Kansas City Chiefs would be the last remaining unbeaten squad.
Gotta say that it sure appears first-year Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is having lots of fun now in his "second life" in the league after 14 seasons in Philadelphia but who wouldn't be overjoyed to have this type cat-quick defense on his side?
In Sunday's 17-16 non-cover win against 6-point road underdog Houston, the Chiefs boasted yet another stellar goal-line stand and piled up five more quarterback sacks thus giving 'em 36 on the year and don't look now but research shows that 15 of the 31 teams in the so-called Super Bowl Era have advanced to the Super Bowl itself after starting off 7-and-oh or better and nine of those 15 teams won it all.
Forget this chatter that the Chiefs barely bested a Texans team that started rookie QB Case Keenum (15-of-25 passing for 271 yards passing with one TD and no INTs) here -the key is KC did all it had to do to win straight-up and happily they even allowed "game manager" QB Alex Smith to take some more shots as he threw for an unsung 240 yards and scored on a five-yard read-option run for the Chiefs.
The last time the Chiefs started this fast was in 2003 when KC won nine in a row at the start of the year -the Dick Vermeil Era, if you will -and yet that team didn't even win its one playoff game (see Indianapolis 38, Kansas City 31). Hmmm.
Meanwhile, there was plenty of buzz emanating from the New York Jets' 30-27 overtime win against 3 ½-point fav New England on Sunday afternoon/evening. Much of it centered around that newly instituted rule that disallows a defensive player from pushing/shoving a teammate towards an opponent's kicker during a field goal try but Pats' rookie Chris Jones -who had a slightly less enjoyable weekend that did Boston Red Sox RF Shane Victoriano -was flagged for the maneuver despite the protestations of head coach Bill Belichick.
But maybe Belichick should take a little look in the mirror following that key divisional tilt that now has New England at 5-2 overall and the NY Jets at 4-3:
After all, his Pats possessed the ball for just 23:40 (to NYJ's 46:13) as the Patriots converted a meager 1-of-12 third-down plays and his defense forced just one turnover against hot-and-cold Jets' rookie QB Geno Smith (233 yards passing with 1 TD and 1 INT and plenty of tight spirals to his no-name receiving corps) -yes, we know there were injuries galore for the Pats who these days are missing DL Vince Wilfork, LB Jerod Mayo and top CB Aqiq Talib but despite the return of TE Rob Gronkowski (8 catches for 114 yards and one near-miss late in regulation) we didn't see the Pats push the ball downfield enough and challenge a wobbly Jets secondary.
So, add that to your crying list, Mr. Belichick!
In the NFL Week 7 Monday Night Football Game, it's ...
MINNESOTA (1-4) at NEW YORK GIANTS (0-6) -8:40 p.m. ET, ESPN
See all those smiling faces from inside the ESPN offices?
Okay, so the Disney Company ain't too pleased that we're wrapping up the NFL Week 7 menu with two teams that have combined for just one win -and, heck, that win came in London!
Still, both the Vikings -who have allowed a per-game average of nearly 34 ppg -and the 0-and-6 Giants are looking to salvage this nightmarish season with a prime-time win here and gotta say that Tom Coughlin's crew won't win a dang thing if it can't cut way back on turnovers: The G-men enter this game with an NFL-worst 23 turnovers and QB Eli Manning (15 INTs) nearly came to tears following last week's 27-21 loss-but-cover in Chicago.
As folks now know, the Vikings are going with their third different quarterback in four games here as former Tampa Bay Buc Josh Freeman gets the nod. Maybe Freeman can perk up a Minnesota offense that gained just 290 yards in last Sunday's 35-10 no-show loss to Carolina.
Spread Notes -Minnesota has alternated pointspread losses/wins since the start of this 2013 season and the Vikings enter this prime-time clash at 2-3 ATS (against the spread) and "due" to cover here. Overall, Minny's a snazzy 15-8-1 versus the vig whenever taking points since the start of the 2011 season while the NY Giants are 1-5 ATS overall this season and 9-13-1 spreadwise as favorites since the start of that 2011 campaign.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEKEND NOTEBOOK
So much for there being any real drama at Death Valley this past Saturday night: Not only did the 3 ½-point favored Florida State Seminoles go into Clemson and chop up the overrated Tigers to pieces but they dispatched Tigers QB Tajh Boyd right out of our Jim Sez Heisman Trophy Top 5 Watch List ...yes, when we post our Heisman leaders in the next edition of Jim Sez you'll see that Boyd went from the top of the charts to right out of the top five entirely and that's what he gets for melting down at his team's most important game in years.
Okay, so Boyd's final stats -that's 17-of-37 passing for 156 yards with two interceptions and a lost fumble returned 37 yards for a Florida State touchdown -really killed any/all hopes that Clemson (6-1, 4-1 ACC) had of staying right near the top of the BCS charts but this was all about showing "who's the boss" as the Seminoles started the game with a methodical drive and never did let their foot off the gas pedal behind their Heisman Trophy leader QB Jameis Winston (444 yards passing and 3 scoring strikes).
And gotta say we applaud the first-of-the-year BCS Standings that were released Sunday night -they have Alabama at #1 and Florida State (not Oregon) at #2 by .003 percentage points.
Okay, so we've all got a long way to go with these BCS Standings but our rankings would have 'Bama at #1 and FSU at #2 -and it's been so darn seldom that we've ever agreed with BC-related stuff, you know!
NOTE: Catch our Mid-Week Report in the next edition of Jim Sez including our World Series Preview plus the aforementioned Heisman Trophy Watch List ...and more!