Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 9:03 AM
THE NFL WEEK 15 GAMES ROAR OUT OF THE GATE WITH A CHARGERS-BRONCOS PRIME-TIME BASH TONIGHT IN THE MILE HIGH CITY …PLUS WE ROLL ON WITH MORE DECEMBER BOWL GAME PREVIEWS AS WE TACKLE THE SEVEN (7) TILTS DECEMBER 27 & 28 (AND THAT INCLUDES RUTGERS VS. NOTRE DAME IN THE BRONX AND MIAMI-LOUISVILLE TOO)
By Jim Hurley
Okay, so in yesterday’s edition of "Jim Sez" we informed y’all that College Football Betting Favorites – through some 700 on-the-board games this year – have won 51.4 percent of the time and we let you know that’s a pretty typical win percentage for chalk sides at the end of regular-season play.
But what about the guys in the league where they play for pay?
Well, while heading into the Thursday Night Football game between the San Diego Chargers at the Denver Broncos (see our preview below), NFL Betting Favorites thus far are 104-91-6 with 7 pick ‘em games – and that comes to a .533 winning rate for the chalk sides.
What strikes us here is that according to many of the so-called experts out there in NFL-land, this has been a topsy-turvy year with a slew of born-again teams making news (see the Kansas City Chiefs and the Carolina Panthers, for example) and yet there’s the Betting Favs some 13 games over the .500 mark through 14 weeks of play … hey, might this be an underdog-oriented weekend here in Week 15?
We will get it all started with NFL Week 15 action in just a moment but first this key reminder …
My handicappers and bloggers have everything all mapped out and you can get the upcoming College Football Bowl Games plus Saturday’s Army-Navy tilt and also all the NFL Week 15 games too beginning with tonight’s bash between the Chargers at the Broncos when you check with us here at Jim Hurley’s Network – make sure you’re all aboard for the week/weekend action online here at www.vegaspsortsmasters.com or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-888-777-4155.
Plus don’t forget all the daily/nightly action on the hardwood as there’s NBA and NCAA Hoops action all winter long right here with Jim Hurley!
NFL WEEK 15
Tonight, it’s …
SAN DIEGO (6-7) at DENVER (11-2) -- 8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Just in case anyone had their doubts, Denver QB Peyton Manning proved he can play in cold weather with last weekend’s 39-completion outing in a 51-28 comeback win over Tennessee – Manning’s now thrown for 45 touchdowns this year, but take note the Broncos totaled just 397 yards in that 28-20 win/cover at 7-point underdog San Diego back in Week 10 action and that’s a season-low in yardage for the AFC West leaders.
If Manning is gonna conquer the Bolts for a second straight time this year and a fourth consecutive time since the start of last year, then he’ll likely have to get “mission accomplished” without slot receiver Wes Welker, who suffered a concussion in last Sunday’s win against the Titans. Note that TE Julius Thomas returned for that Titans game after a two-week absence (knee) and caught his 11th touchdown pass of the year.
The Chargers – fresh off a resounding 37-13 win against the New York Giants last Sunday - will counter with QB Philip Rivers, who has been simply brilliant this year even though the Chargers have found more than a few ways to lose games late.
Last weekend Rivers chucked the ball for 249 yards with three TDs and expect him to make quick decisions here as he looks to evade LB Von Miller and mates – might this be a breakout stat game for San Diego RB Danny Woodhead, who already has 65 receptions this year?
The Broncos remain just a single game ahead of New England for the #1 seed in the AFC Playoffs and remember the Patriots have the tie-breaker there by virtue of their wild 34-31 overtime win back on Nov. 24th and so the heat’s on Manning and Company to keep the foot to the pedal – even if it is cold outside.
Spread Notes – Denver is 8-5 ATS (against the spread) overall this season but did you realize the Broncos are just 5-10-4 versus the vig against San Diego while dating back to the start of the 2004 season? Note that the Chargers enter this divisional duel at 7-5-1 versus the vig this season and SD’s a solid 10-7-1 ATS away since the middle of 2011.
Thursday Night NFL Playoff Position Power Move
The Chargers roll into Denver on a mission to stop Peyton Manning and the Broncos. This AFC West rivalry gets very different in frigid Denver in December.
How does an aged Peyton Manning hold up in cold weather? He did fine last Sunday, silencing his critics with a 51-28 win over the Titans.
Will his game suffer as temperatures drop and winds increase? Can the improving Chargers push themselves deeper into the playoff picture?
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COLLEGE BOWLS –
Editor’s Note: We will be posting our Jim Sez quick-hitter comments on all 35 Bowl Games. Today we take a look at the 7 big bowl games being played Friday, Dec. 27th and Saturday, Dec. 28th:
FRIDAY, DEC. 27
MILITARY BOWL – at Annapolis, MD
MARSHALL (9-4) vs. MARYLAND (7-5) – 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Maryland Terrapins won’t even have to pack a lunch for this bowl tilt – this game on the Navy campus is a mere 30 miles away from College Park but will third-year Maryland head coach Randy Edsall be digesting a “W” at day’s end? No doubt the Terps must perk up their play in terms of red zone defense where this ACC (and soon to be Big 10) team ranks a dismal 111th in the country in that particular category. If Marshall QB Rakeem Cato (3,579 yards passing with 36 TDs) gets in a rhythm here, than the Thundering Herd should pound out its third bowl win the past five years.
TEXAS BOWL – at Houston, TX
SYRACUSE (6-6) vs. MINNESOTA (8-4) – 6 p.m. ET, ESPN
You must go all the way back to the 2004 season to find the last time the Minnesota Golden Gophers won a bowl game – the Big 10 team is 0-5 SU (straight-up) in bowls ever since – and all eyes here will be on Minny’s freakish D-lineman Ra’Shede Hageman, who this season has collected 11 tackles for losses and a pair of sacks for a re-born Minnesota defense that held opponents to a grand total of 44 points in the final three weeks of play. Meanwhile, the ‘Cuse loves the fight of QB Terrell Hunt, who rushed for 426 yards and threw for 1,450 yards and don’t forget that last-second TD toss to beat Boston College and lock up this bowl bid in the first place.
FIGHT HUNGER BOWL – at San Francisco, CA
BYU (8-4) vs. WASHINGTON (8-4) – 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Hey, you get a slew of these type bowl games every year and here’s the latest: Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian is gonzo to USC (no, we don’t blame ‘em at all!) and so the UW Huskies will be “showing off” for newly-named head coach Chris Petersen of Boise State fame – will those “distractions” hurt the Pac-12 team? BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy will be a central figure here as he bucks helmets with Washington RB Bishop Sankey, who comes off a dazzling 1,775-yard, 18-TD campaign, but the $64,000 question is Washington QB Keith Price “right” after suffering a late-season shoulder injury against UCLA? We know BYU QB Taysom Hill (28 total TDs this year) is a big-play threat waiting to happen and the Huskies did surrender 40-plus points on three different occasions in 2013.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 28
PINSTRIPE BOWL – at The Bronx, NY
RUTGERS (6-6) vs. NOTRE DAME (8-4) – 12:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
In case you were wondering, there are currently seven college bowl games where the Las Vegas pointspread is a twin-figure price – and this is one of ‘em as Notre Dame makes a tri-state appearance like the good old days against 15-point pup Rutgers and the real question is whether or not the Irish are “into” this Yankee Stadium tilt when you consider last year Brian Kelly’s club played for the BCS championship (don’t remind ‘em!). Also, no DT Louis Nix here for Notre Dame as his injured knee (plus the fact he’s signed with an agent) ended his college career, but it’ll still be interesting to see if Rutgers can move the ball here in the air with QBs Chas Dodd and Gary Nova tossing a combined 17 INTs this year … ugh! Well, Notre Dame slinger Tommy Rees can relate to that as he’s thrown 13 picks this season.
BELK BOWL – at Charlotte, NC
CINCINNATI (9-3) vs. NORTH CAROLINA (6-6) – 3:25 p.m. ET, ESPN
It’s safe to say we don’t normally agree with 6-and-6 teams that make it to bowl games, but these North Carolina Tar Heels are the exception to that rule as head coach Larry Fedora – is he the next head coach at Texas? – gets high marks for powering his club into the post-season following that unremarkable 1-5 SU start. If Tar Heels’ dual-threat QB Marquise Williams can get 50-plus yards rushing to go along with some neat darts to TE Eric Ebron, then the 3-point favorite ACC guys should visit the winner’s circle, but don’t sleep on a Cincinnati squad that held seven foes to 20 points or less this year and we’re expecting QB Brandon Kay to be more accurate than he was in that 31-24 OT loss to Louisville last week. Key pointspread note here: The UC Bearcats are 5-2-1 ATS as underdogs the past three seasons and one of those spread setbacks was the overtime “L” against the ‘Ville.
RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL – at Orlando, FL
MIAMI (9-3) vs. #18 LOUISVILLE (11-1) – 6:45 p.m. ET, ESPN
Believe it or not, there’s 11 ACC teams playing in bowl games this holiday season (the SEC is next-best with 10 bowl teams) and the funny thing is Louisville will be an ACC team a year from now and so this is one of those getting-to-know-you games for conference sake. Hey, the ‘Ville started off the year ranked #9 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, but that wild 38-35 mid-October loss to 14 ½-point pup UCF kayoed Charlie Strong’s Cardinals from the proverbial radar screen, but now here’s a shot to get closer to a top 10 finish if things all pan out just right. If Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater (3,523 yards passing with 28 TDs) can make some more signature plays here (he’s got a little Ben Roethlisberger in ‘em to extend plays) then Louisville could be looking at its third bowl win in four years. Note Miami – once upon a time the #7 team in the land this year – lost three of its final five regular-season games and when did you think you’d see the day when the Hurricanes ranked 75th nationally in overall defense?
BUFFALO WILD WINGS BOWL – at Tempe, AZ
MICHIGAN (7-5) vs. KANSAS STATE (7-5) – 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
No matter how you cut it, the 2013 season was a disappointment for both of these “name teams”, and that despite the fact both teams enter this game at 7-5 ATS … just consider that Michigan never did adequately protect QB Devin Gardner, who has been sacked, hurried and physically punished more than any other big-time college quarterback while Kansas State’s Ryan Mueller looks to shine here after collecting 11 ½ sacks this year. The Wildcats, however, ranked 73rd nationally in total offense and the quarterback tandem of Daniel Sams and Jake Waters combined for 19 TD passes but a whopping 13 picks too. Just wanted to let you know K-State has gone 0-3 SU and 0-3 ATS in bowls under grandfatherly coach Bill Snyder since he began his second tenure with the team back in 2009.
NOTE: There’s NFL Week 15 Game Previews plus this weekend’s Army vs. Navy preview too in the next edition of Jim Sez!