Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 5:50 PM
NFL WEEK 15 GETS OFF TO FLYIN’ START FOR THE NOT-DEAD-YET SD CHARGERS WHO SNAG 27-20 WIN IN DENVER … HEY, THERE’S OTHER NFL WEEK 15 QUICK-HITTER SUNDAY PREVIEWS AS WE EXAMINE PATRIOTS-DOLPHINS & SAINTS-RAMS …
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEKEND REPORT: WE CHECK OUT THE ANNUAL ARMY-NAVY BATTLE PLUS OUR FINAL HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH LIST IS HERE
By Jim Hurley
Say this for the Denver Broncos – they can look like world-beaters one week and less-than-ordinary dudes the next.
While everyone’s been all-too-quick to pencil in a Denver vs. Seattle showdown in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in February – remember we talked about that the other day here in a Jim Sez column? – the fact of the matter is the Broncos could wind up having to play a road playoff game this winter and they may well point to Thursday Night’s 27-20 loss to 10 ½-point underdog San Diego as the numero uno reason why.
Hey, the Broncos never seemed to have the football in this Week 15 tilt – note that Denver’s time of possession was a mere 21 minutes-and-change – while the Chargers manned up and got physical with the running of RB Ryan Mathews and the two-TD, no-INT play of clutch QB Philip Rivers helping to steal the show.
Could the Broncos have “peaked” too soon? We shall see, right?
NFL WEEK 15 PREVIEWS
NEW ENGLAND (10-3) at MIAMI (7-6) – 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Are the NE Patriots set for another dramatic win in this season chock full of last-second miracles … or will last week’s season-ending knee injury to Pro Bowl TE Rob Gronkowski strip away lots of luster here for Bill Belichick’s crew?
There is no denying the fact that for someone that played just six games this year because of other injuries, Gronkowski’s 37 catches and 560 receiving yards – to say nothing of his red-zone prowess – will be sadly missed here, but maybe that means Pats QB Tom Brady zips in short-and-safe strikes to RB Shane Vereen who nabbed a dozen receptions in last week’s wild 27-26 comeback win against Cleveland.
New England’s gunning for the season sweep here – remember the Pats copped a 27-17 win against 6 ½-point dog Miami back in Week 8 play – while the born-again Fish (see four consecutive spread wins and 3-of-4 wins straight-up the past month) might want to incorporate WR Mike Wallace more into the attack here after he snagged just two catches for 19 yards in last Sunday’s snowy 34-28 win in Pittsburgh.
Hey, do you realize that Miami ranks a lowly 23rd league-wide in both rushing offense and rushing defense and still has a winning record? Hmmm.
Spread Note – New England is a horrid 1-5 ATS (against the spread) away this year and that includes divisional pointspread setbacks in both Buffalo and at the NY Jets.
NEW ORLEANS (10-3) at ST. LOUIS (5-8) – 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox
Is this “sandwich game” gonna be a sticky one for the Saints?
Sean Payton’s crew blasted Carolina 31-13 last Sunday night – it was the ninth time this year that New Orleans held a foe below the 20-point mark – but now we’ll see if Rob Ryan’s defense is completely focused in here with Round II against the Panthers on tap for next weekend in Charlotte.
If New Orleans – a 5 ½-point betting favorite at press time – can keep a “clean pocket” for QB Drew Brees than you can expect some long-ball tosses to WR Marques Colston (two TDs last Sunday), but something tells us the real key to this tilt will be how St. Louis fares when getting the ball into the hands of rookie WR Travon Austin. No doubt he’s been on the silent side the past couple of weeks and Jeff Fisher’s club is only gonna win here if Austin gets 10-or-so touches including a couple of reverse runs.
Did you know that the Rams have surrendered 30-or-more points on five occasions this season and they’re 0-5 versus the vig in those losses – ouch!
Spread Note – New Orleans is 23-11-1 versus the vig (that’s a .676 winning rate) as betting favorites while dating back to the start of the 2011 season and that includes the 31-21 loss at 13 ½-point dog St. Louis back in the ’11 campaign.
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT –
The fact is most/nearly all the College Football kids are idle on this mid-December weekend, but there’s still a whole lot happening:
We wrap up the College Football regular season with a bang on this Dec. 14, 2013 as service academy rivals Army and Navy slug it out in chilly/rainy Philadelphia while the night’s all set for a Heisman Trophy celebration – and don’t look now, but the bowl games start to roll your way next weekend with Four (4) Bowl Games set for lift-off on Saturday, Dec. 21.
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 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.vegassportsmasters.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!
On Saturday, it’s …
ARMY (3-8) vs. NAVY (7-4) – 3 p.m. ET, CBS
The Navy winning streak in this series is now at 11 straight – yes, we must go back to Army’s 26-17 win in 2001 to find the last time the Midshipmen didn’t come out on top in this ultimate of rivalry games – and so now Navy heads into this weekend’s game with a 57-49-7 SU (straight-up) advantage all time, and keep in mind these folks have been playing each other since 1890 … yow!
Now Navy – a 12 ½-point betting favorite for this tilt – is looking to bring a little momentum into its Armed Forces Bowl game against Middle Tennessee State (Dec. 30th) with the nation’s third-ranked rushing attack (averaging 320.1 yards per game) with QB Keenan Reynolds already having thrown for 1,028 yards with 8 TDs, but also having rushed it for a team-best 1,124 yards with 26 TDs – and who’s ever gonna soon forget that seven-TD rushing game in a 58-52 triple-OT win at San Jose State in Navy’s last game way back on Nov. 22nd.
If Army is gonna stage an upset and slow this decade-plus losing streak than no doubt the country’s second-best ground attack – one that’s averaging 325.9 ypg and starring RB Terry Baggett (1,072 yards rushing and an 8.2 ypc average) – must get extended drives.
Hey, Army can’t afford to fall behind two-or-more scores here – not with the country’s 120th-ranked pass attack.
Spread Notes – Navy is an electric 8-3 ATS this year but note the Midshipmen are a dismal 4-13 versus the vig as betting favorites these past three years. On the flip side, Army enters this traditional showdown at 4-7 against the odds this season and the Cadets are 4-15 ATS away from West Point since the start of the 2011 campaign.
Here’s the last five Army vs. Navy head-to-head matchups:
Navy (-7) Army
Navy (-7) Army
Navy (-7.5) Army
Navy (-15) Army
Navy (-10.5) Army
HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH LIST
Lights, cameras, action!
The 79th Annual Heisman Memorial Trophy Presentation is set for Saturday night (8 p.m. ET) in New York City and this year – after a bevy of contenders/pretended battled to get into the hunt – only one player really stepped forward and stayed there.
Yes, the landslide winner of this year’s Heisman Trophy will be …
JAMEIS WINSTON, QB, FLORIDA STATE – Don’t be surprised if this redshirt freshman mega-star that’s headed for this year’s BCS Championship Game against Auburn winds up with the biggest margin-of-victory triumph in years after he threw for 3,820 yards with 38 TDs and 10 INTs for the 13-and-oh Seminoles. Right from the start – that 41-13 win at Pittsburgh on Labor Day evening (remember?) -- Winston wowed folks with his accuracy, his arm strength and his Football IQ. Hey, how does anyone not vote for him as this year’s Heisman Trophy winner?
This is how we see the remainder of this six-player field …
#2 – JOHNNY MANZIEL, QB, TEXAS A&M – Last year’s Heisman winner never did get the proper traction to make a repeat run despite his 3,732 yards passing with 33 TDs and 13 INTs to go along with another 686 rushing yards with 8 scores.
#3 – JORDAN LYNCH, QB, NORTHERN ILLINOIS – No question this dual-threat star fell out of the second spot in this race with a horrid showing in NIU’s 47-27 loss to Bowling Green in last week’s Mid-American Conference Championship Game. Still, Lynch’s season-long numbers in 2013 include 2,676 yards passing with 23 TDs and 7 INTs along with 1,881 rushing yards and 22 ground scores.
#4 – ANDRE WILLIAMS, RB, BOSTON COLLEGE – There was major momentum on his side till that injury-abbreviated loss at Syracuse on Thanksgiving weekend. Still, Williams has been brilliant this year with his 2,102 yards rushing and 17 TDs.
#5 – AJ McCARRON, QB, ALABAMA – There will be no three-peat for the ‘Bama Crimson Tide, but don’t blame that on this senior slinger, who sports the following stat line: 2,676 yards passing with 26 TDs and 5 INTs... and don’t ever forget that 99-yard scoring strike in the dramatic loss to Auburn.
#6 – TRE MASON, RB, AUBURN – No question that this De La Soul offspring was a late-bloomer in the Heisman race, but there’s no denying he’s a stud with 1,621 rushing yards and 22 TDs and he finished with a flash as Mason rushed for 304 yards in last weekend’s wild 59-42 win against Missouri in the SEC Championship Game.
NOTE: There’s more NFL Week 15 Game Previews ahead in the next edition of Jim Sez.