Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, November 23, 2013 at 4:00 PM
'Twas the weekend before Thanksgiving and all through the NFL house there were plenty of creatures stirring- there's the Carolina Panthers riding a six-game winning streak and how 'bout the born-again New York Giants who've won four in a row following that horrific 0-and-6 start?
Yes, sir, there are major movers-and-shakers in the league where they play for pay right at the start of the holiday season and we're here to tell you all about 'em:
Note that in an earlier-week edition of Jim Sez we brought you in-depth previews/forecasts of a pair of NFL Week 12 Sunday games as we had plenty to say about the AFC West matchup between the San Diego Chargers at the 9-and-1 Kansas City Chiefs plus we checked in on the aforementioned NY Giants for their home game against NFC East rival Dallas.
So let's keep the pro gridiron beat rollin' on here with more action as we check out four games on Sunday's card including the one everyone's talkin' about in prime time:
In NFL Week 12 play on Sunday Night, it's ...
DENVER (9-1) at NEW ENGLAND (7-3)- 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Get ready for more camera close-ups of those heavily bandaged ankles of Broncos' QB Peyton Manning- the Denver slinger has 34 touchdown throws this year and remember he didn't even take a hit in last week's 27-17 win against Kansas City- but the proof of the pudding in this prime-time game could well rest on whether or not Manning has enough quality connections with TE Julius Thomas (knee) and slot WR Wes Welker (concussion) both iffy or completely out here.
The Patriots are banking on a repeat of history from their QB Tom Brady who has 12 TDs and 1 INT in his last five games against the Broncos.
The $64,000 question here is will New England RB Steven Ridley be able to keep a handle on the ball here after he's suffered with "fumbleitis" for much of the current campaign. Hey, one red-zone fumble by Ridley could be the difference between a Pats win and a loss.
Spread Notes - Denver sports a solid-if-unspectacular 6-4 ATS (against the spread) record so far this year but note the Broncos are a heady 13-8 ATS away the past two-plus seasons. New England has split its first 10 pointspread verdicts this year and the Patriots are just 26-23-1 ATS as hosts dating back to the start of the 2008 campaign.
In Sunday afternoon action, it's ...
CAROLINA (7-3) at MIAMI (5-5)- 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Folks, you have to go all the back to October 6th to find the last time the Carolina Panthers lost a football game (see Arizona 22, Carolina 6) and now the Las Vegas oddsmakers have installed the Panthers as 4.5-point betting favs for this clash in South Florida against a Dolphins team that has won only twice since September 30th ... the ships passing in the opposite directions metaphor is cute but the reality is Ron Rivera's NFC South club is hotter than a Texas street in summertime and here you've got to wonder if Panthers' QB Cam Newton (10 aerial TDs and 3 rushing TDs during this current six-game winning streak) can make the big plays at crunch time.
Keep in mind Miami sports the AFC's worst rushing defense while yielding 152.3 yards per game and so RB DeAngelo Williams (team-leading 579 yards rushing) could be a real "factor back" here and odds are Carolina will get 'em 20-plus rushes in this interconference affair ... bank on it!
Spread Notes- Carolina storms into this road tilt on a six-game spread winning streak and the Panthers are 9-4 ATS away since the start of last year. On the flip side, Miami's a dead-even but vig-losing 5-5 against the odds so far this season and the Dolphins are a collective 14-7 vig-wise as underdo sides since mid-way of the 2011 season ... you can look it up!
NEW YORK JETS (5-5) at BALTIMORE (4-6)- 1 p.m. ET, CBS
The history books say the NY Jets are the first team since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger to win one, lose one for 10 straight games but will the beat go on here for the AFC East crew (and that would mean a "W" here)?
The Jets can talk about rookie QB Geno Smith and his inconsistent ways till they're green in the face but what likely will decide this game is how the Jets' defense holds up against Ravens QB Joe Flacco who threw two INTs in last week's marathon 23-20 OT loss in Chicago (and that included a really bad "pick six").
Flacco will lean more on his team's ground game that cranked out a season-high 174 rushing yards last week but did you know Baltimore's scored 20 points or less in each of its last five games? Yikes!
Spread Notes- Baltimore is a wacky 4-4-2 versus the vig so far in 2013 and did you know the Ravens have covered four of their five head-to-head matchups against the NY Jets since 2004? Meanwhile, the Jets are a collective 41-39 ATS in the Rex Ryan Era that started in 2009 and that includes a 22-21 ATS log in away games- not as good as you thought, right?
INDIANAPOLIS (7-3) at ARIZONA (6-4)- 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS
No doubt the numero uno storyline for this clash is the fact former Colts interim coach Bruce Arians is going up against QB Andrew Luck and friends but you do have to wonder whom has the advantage here?
Arians knows Luck's strengths and weaknesses but can his Cardinals' defense rattle the second-year star here? Luck (2,430 yards passing with 14 TDs and 6 INTs this year) generally does major damage when on the run and let's see how 'Zona handles Indy TE Coby Fleener (37 receptions) who often is the beneficiary of Luck's chucks when he's rolling out or scrambling for open space.
One X-factor for the Redbirds here: Arizona WR Michael Floyd- averaging 15.6 ypc- is becoming a real home run threat these days and he could get targeted 10-or-more times here providing QB Carson Palmer is kept in the upright position.
Spread Notes - Arizona has covered five of its seven non-NFC West games so far this season but the Cardinals are just 8-17 ATS as betting favorites since the start of the 2009 season. Indianapolis is 5-4-1 spreadwise so far this season and that includes a spiffy 3-0 ATS mark when in the underdog role with outright upset wins against San Francisco, Seattle and Denver.
Take note ...Check with us here at Jim Hurley's Network at the toll-free # of 1-800-323-4453 or right here online for all the weekend Football & Basketball winners.
NOTE: Lots more in the next edition of Jim Sez including a Monday Night Football Preview/Forecast- that's the San Francisco 49ers at the Washington Redskins.