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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, December 2, 2013 at 8:57 AM



By Jim Hurley

Here are a few definitive comments that need to be made as we begin this new work week:

Number one, the answer is, no, we haven’t ever seen a wilder end-of-game scenario than what we watched last Saturday when 10-point home underdog Auburn stunned #1 Alabama 34-28 on that crazy 100-plus yard return of a missed field goal, and the truth is we’ve been watching football for the past four-and-a-half decades or so (heck, the only thing that came to mind here was the Pittsburgh Steelers’ famed “Immaculate Reception” playoff win against the Oakland Raiders back in 1972, but this one was even bigger and better!).

Number two, it’s safe to say that the NFL big wigs got it right by capping off this Week 13 menu with this evening’s showdown between the New Orleans Saints (9-2) at the Seattle Seahawks (10-1) – it’s Game of the Year stuff even if we’ve already heard Game of the Year describe that first Kansas City at Denver game a few weeks back.

Number three – and finally – this has been some 29th Annual Jim Hurley Turkey Shoot … hasn’t it?

America’s #1 Handicapper smoked the oddsmakers with a terrific holiday week/weekend of gridiron winners including the “over” in the Thanksgiving Day win by the Dallas Cowboys over the Raiders; the Saturday College Football winner with Nevada (+ 16 ½) getting the loot in a five-point loss to BYU; and Sunday’s overtime win by the 5-point underdog Atlanta Falcons over the Buffalo Bills – that’s just some of the sampling of winners which certainly goes down as one of the Jim Hurley Turkey Shoot weeks of all time.

Hope you cashed in big right along with us!

Note that we’ll dig into a few NFL Week 13 key storylines plus that MNF preview in just a second but first this important reminder …

My handicappers and bloggers have everything all mapped out for tonight’s NFL Week 13 tilt in the great northwest and you can get the Side & Totals winners when you check with us here at Jim Hurley’s Network at the toll-free # of 1-888-777-4155 or right here online at

Close out a great Turkey Shoot with Saints-Seahawks!

Tonight, it’s …

NEW ORLEANS (9-2) at SEATTLE (10-1) – 8:40 p.m. ET, ESPN
Nobody has to remind Saints head coach Sean Payton that his team and this New Orleans franchise has never won a playoff road game (we’re not counting the “neutral site” of Super Bowl 44, of course) – so going on the road this post-season isn’t the most appealing prospect for this NFC South crew.

Still, Payton shrugs off that stuff as “stereotypical” thinking that dome teams cannot win on the road come playoff time, and now his club is getting a dose of that logic here-and-now with this playoff-type game on tap at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.

If New Orleans wishes to stay home for the post-season run, then winning this game is a must, and so the NFL’s second-ranked passing attack (averaging 317.3 yards per game) will look to put a dent into a short-handed Seattle secondary that already was missing injured CB Brandon Browner (groin) and now will be without CB Walter Thurmond, who was suspended early last week for a grand total of four games because of violating the league’s substance abuse policy – and take note Browner could be facing a one-year ban for the same violation.

If Saints QB Drew Brees is gonna have success through the air waves here, it would figure to happen without both of Seattle’s starting cornerbacks in the lineup, but keep in mind this defense has an NFL-best 16 INTs in all and four apiece have been snagged by guys in the lineup here namely, Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas.

The Saints – a 4 ½-point underdog at press time – need to get TE Jimmy Graham (11 TDs) in space against this Seattle secondary, but consider too that time of possession is key for the road folks who would like to keep Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch on the sidelines for as many minutes as possible.

You might recall that Lynch – who has run for 925 yards so far this season – bullied the Saints on a punishing 67-yard touchdown run against N’Orleans back in a 2010 playoff game that Seattle won 41-36 as 10-point home dogs.

If Lynch gets 25-or-so carries here, it’s curtains for the Saints defense that has allowed just 50 points in all in back-to-back-to-back recent wins against Dallas/San Francisco/Atlanta.

Spread Notes – Seattle is 7-4 ATS (against the spread) overall this season and note the Seahawks are a composite 20-9 spreadwise since the start of last year including a spiffy 10-3 home spread mark. New Orleans, meanwhile, is a decent 6-4-1 versus the vig overall this year and the Saints enter this prime-time clash at 19-10-1 ATS in non-divisional tilts the past two-plus seasons.

Saints at Seahawks
9-4 on Monday Night Football This Season

The high-scoring Saints invade the equally prolific Seahawks for a Monday Night NFC battle. This promises to be a game that lives up to its hype. The Network comparison programs had to work overtime and even add extra data from sources to nail down this game!

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In other NFL Week 13 key games, it was …

DENVER 35, KANSAS CITY 28 – No doubt the AFC’s lone 10-win team has mucho weapons at the disposal of Hall-of-Fame-to-be QB Peyton Manning but – go ahead – tell us you knew that WR Eric Decker would be the biggest beneficiary on this first day in December?

Decker’s four touchdown catches – from 41, 37, 15 and 1 yard out -- were major plays in this swing game that saw the Broncos score 28 consecutive points en route to overcoming a 21-7 deficit at dangerously noisy Arrowhead Stadium.

Still, the Chiefs must be critiqued here for their lousy defense, and it all doesn’t get excused because there were injury issues along the D-line.

The truth is Manning (403 yards passing with five TDs in all) chewed up the likes of Kansas City DB Marcus Cooper, who never did get a handle on the aforementioned Decker and how about the fact the visiting Broncos converted 8-of-14 third-down plays and went 3-of-3 from the red zone?

The clean sweep of the Chiefs doesn’t officially put KC in the proverbial rear-view mirror when it comes to who’s gonna win the AFC West, but don’t you think Kansas City boss-man Andy Reid has reason to fret now that his club’s lost three in a row after that nifty 9-and-oh start?

Thank goodness there are no more regular-season games scheduled with the Broncos!

NEW ENGLAND 34, HOUSTON 31 – Now here’s a novel idea that we know won’t be getting any traction, but what say Patriots’ placekicker Stephen Gostkowski deserves some MVP votes this year?

Okay, we know Gostkowski is not even the MVP of his team – that’s clearly reserved for QB Tom Brady, who threw for 371 yards and two TDs in this back-and-forth non-cover win in Houston -- but consider that the Patriots’ kicker is 26-of-28 on his three-pointers, and that includes a 53-yard bomb that tied the game at 31-apiece and then he booted another 53-yarder to win it with 3:15 left in a game that witnessed five different lead changes in the second half alone.

The Pats have won five games by a mere three points apiece this year – and right now Gostkowski is starting to resemble another Mr. Clutch that played for the Pats once upon a time … Adam Vinatieri.

Think about the MVP stuff just in case the Patriots wind up with home field advantage in this year’s AFC Playoffs, okay?

In other NFL Week 13 Notes …

  • Good for NBC play-by-play man Al Michaels to verbally tear apart the officiating crew in Sunday Night’s 24-17 win by the New York Giants over Washington.

    The fact that bonehead referee Jeff Triplette didn’t stop the action to correct a mistake made by one of his on-field comrades – a third-down play was first ruled first down before confusion reigned and Washington was jobbed – made the late going tougher than normal for the wobbling Redskins.

  • Okay, so it wasn’t a great weekend for the refs who still should get disciplined for not flagging Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin on Thanksgiving Night but enough already about that nonsense …

  • Finally, when NFL teams start to analyze their quarterbacking situation for the 2014 season you can expect the New York Jets to opt for “Plan B” and find a new hand after this Geno Smith experiment didn’t work out so good.

    Smith was finally and mercifully benched at halftime of the Jets’ non-competitive 23-3 home loss to Miami on Sunday after completing 4-of-10 passes for 29 yards with one INT.

    Forget for a moment that Smith wasn’t even in the same zip code with some receivers on this day (no wind to blame at MetLife Stadium and the game was played in 54 or 55 degree weather) and so this second-round pick can be called a major bust (11 INTs and 1 TD in his last five games), but the J-E-T-S shouldn’t expect Matt Simms to save ‘em after he completed just 9-of-18 passes for 79 yards with one pick. Ugh.


    Sure, everyone and his brother wants to blame Alabama head coach Nick Saban for a gazillion things that happened on that 100-plus runback of a missed Crimson Tide field goal in the final second of play in Saturday’s wild 34-28 Auburn win in the latest and greatest Iron Bowl game.

    Here’s Saban’s biggest sin (if you were watching!):

    He just didn’t seem sure of what he wanted to do on that last drive:

    Keep in mind that ‘Bama – following a game-tying Auburn touchdown pass play between QB Nick Marshall to WR Sammie Coates that covered 39 yards – took over the ball at its own 29-yard line with 16 seconds left.

    Quarterback AJ McCarron – whose post-game behavior we will discuss in a moment – threw an incomplete pass and then Tide RB T.J. Yeldon rushed for 9 and 24 yards on back-to-back plays to give Alabama the ball at the Auburn 39-yard line with that one tick remaining after replay reviewed things and declared the game was not over yet.

    Then Saban trotted out kid kicker Adam Griffith who – truthfully – booted the well some 50-plus yards before it came up short and in the arms of Auburn’s Chris Davis and, well, you know the rest.

    You could see and sense that Saban was unsure after that nine-yard Yeldon run whether or not he wanted to play for overtime and he should have trusted his instincts and let the game go into OT and then counted on his veteran signal-caller to win it.

    Instead, Saban – never the greatest in-game coach, if truth be told – got carried away and went for the win right there and then … yes, maybe he had zero faith in a defense that allowed Auburn to rush for 296 yards but that hemming-and-hawing, that indecisiveness really killed Saban and Company here.

    As far as McCarron – okay, he has a couple of national titles under his belt, but he races off the field the moment the game is over to hug his parents and Miss America girlfriend?

    Don’t know about you, but if we just lost any/all shot at a BCS championship like that, we’d be devastated and might need help just getting off the field – whatta phony McCarron is and now here’s hoping he doesn’t even get an invite to NYC for the December 14th Heisman Trophy celebration.

    Lastly, the funny thing about this Iron Bowl was that – as CBS analyst Gary Danielson kept reminding us ad nauseum – Alabama was playing “tight” and never did really get into a great rhythm save for that 21-point second quarter splurge.

    How come?

    Saban will get verbally assaulted for not having his field-goal team prepared to make a tackle (we get it!) and for not defending that Marshall-to-Coates TD play but not having the courage of his convictions late really cost the multi-title winning coach … now he’s got to live it down.

    Note: In the next edition of Jim Sez we’ll have more gridiron goodies including our Heisman Trophy Watch List!


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