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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 8:58 AM



By Jim Hurley

You’ve got to rank it as one of the real oddities in NFL lore:

Here we were in NFL Week 15 play on Sunday and there was a whopping total of 763 points scored -- or 54.5 points per game on average -- and yet three teams who’ve made their bones with high-octane offenses were barely a blip on the proverbial screen.

Go figure.

The New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints and Cincinnati Bengals all may still be headed to playoff berths next month (though don’t print those tickets just yet, folks!) and yet on this ultra-productive NFL Sunday this trio combined for a grand total of 56 points en route to three road setbacks – so what were the odds that 13 of the 28 teams that played on this third Sunday in December would score 30-or-more points and Patriots/Saints/Bengals wouldn’t be part of the point-scoring party?

And what do you even say to the New York Giants and the Houston Texans, who combined for 3 points on this record-breaking points day – we say Giants’ QB Eli Manning (five INTs in a humbling/bumbling 23-0 home loss to Seattle) should be quick to hand over his $1.2 million-per-game pay check and give it to his favorite charity during this holiday season – just awful, Eli!

What – now we’re gonna hear from your daddy again after yet another brutal showing? Save your voice, Archie!

No doubt there were a bundle of key stories in NFL Week 15 play, but first let’s weigh in with quick-hitter comments on these potent teams that didn’t exactly strike it rich:

MIAMI 24, NEW ENGLAND 20 – If you watched any of the post-game presser involving Pats’ QB Tom Brady, then you know he was in a depressed state after throwing for 364 yards and two TDs as no TE Rob Gronkowski meant no red-zone threats (again!) and that was a killer late when New England couldn’t score the go-ahead touchdown despite a handful of opportunities inside Miami’s 20-yard line in the game’s final 27 seconds.

Still, all the Pats had to do to win here was corral Miami RB/TE Charles Clay late, but he turned a short pass play into a critical six-yard completion on fourth-and-five moments before QB Ryan Tannehill aired the game-winning TD strike to Marcus Thigpen.

Yes, blame the Pats’ offense for only scoring 20 points in South Florida – but from the what-else-is-new department, the New England defense didn’t make the key stop when called upon again.

ST. LOUIS 27, NEW ORLEANS 16 – So you would think on a day when NFL teams averaged 27 points the Saints would have “held their own”, but instead QB Drew Brees aired two first-quarter picks (including a total amateurish INT in the end zone) and even shifting around some offensive line personnel didn’t work for head coach Sean Payton, who even got duped on an onside kick by the Rams after a St. Louis score … boy, did the Rams’ head coach Jeff Fisher enjoy that one or what?

The bottom line here is that the Saints (10-4) needed to win to keep pace with 10-and-4 Carolina and was unable to do so, and now these NFC South co-leaders will square off in Charlotte this Sunday, and you have to wonder if N’Orleans can click in the red zone where it went a rotten 2-of-6 against St. Looie.

Hey, 432 offensive yards and 30 first downs and all you get is a lousy 16 points?

PITTSBURGH 30, CINCINNATI 20 – It’s rather amazing that the Bengals even showed up for the second half of this Sunday Night tilt after digging themselves a 24-0 first-half hole (and down 27-7 at the halftime break).

Still, what’s got to worry Marvin Lewis’ crew is they were “out-toughed” as NBC analyst and Cincy native Cris Collinsworth said during this broadcast, and faulty special teams play was only part of the bigger problem, although finding a new punter is a priority now that P Kevin Huber is out till further notice after suffering a fractured jaw on one of the hardest blocks you’ll ever see.

Folks were talking about the Bengals jumping up to the AFC’s #2 seed following the afternoon action where aforementioned New England (10-4) lost, but Cincy hardly looked the part of a championship-type team and we’re getting a little tired of the “experts” claiming Cincinnati QB Andy Dalton is close to being “elite” when his 230-yard, two-TD performance was accomplished well after this game was out of touch.

And so are the folks who believe the Bengals will be part of the Super Bowl scene at MetLife Stadium in early February!

Here’s a few other little NFL Week 15 nuggets/observations:

  • Is Washington’ soon-to-be-fired head coach Mike Shanahan now gonna dictate terms of what questions can and can’t be asked in post-game press conferences? His snarly ways following the Redskins’ 27-26 loss-but-cover at 5 ½-point fav Atlanta showed his true colors once again and we’re not being fooled into thinking QB Kirk Cousins (381 yards passing with 3 TDs and 2 INTs) is a top-flight slinger no matter what’s gonna go down these last few weeks of regular-season play …

  • Kansas City’s 56-31 win at Oakland in Week 15 action marked the highest-scoring game of the day – thanks in large part to Chiefs’ RB Jamaal Charles, who scored five touchdowns (including four receiving) in this AFC West affair but how about a couple of other non-Charles related crazy stats here: The Raiders threw five INTs and got off 23 more plays from scrimmage than KayCee (that’s 74 snaps to 51 snaps) …

  • Finally, the Dallas Cowboys may well wind up pointing to their 37-36 meltdown loss to Green Bay (remember the ‘Boys led 26-3 in the third quarter) as the day this whole 2013 season really went up in smoke should they lose out to Philadelphia for first-place honors in the NFC East, but let everyone else dissect the QB Tony Romo pair of fourth-quarter picks and the fact moody WR Dez Bryant (11 receptions for 153 yards) walked off the field with a minute-plus remaining – our biggest beef is that Dallas averaged 7.4 yards a rush (that’s 18 carries for 134 yards) and yet decided to run it only once in their last 15 offensive plays … say what!

Our MNF preview in just a second here but first this important reminder …

My handicappers and bloggers have everything all mapped out for tonight’s NFL Week 15 tilt between the Baltimore Ravens at the Detroit Lions … get the Side & Totals winners game-day afternoon 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

Plus get all the upcoming College Football Bowl games (they kick off Saturday with Four Games) plus the Basketball action too … don’t get left out in the cold, folks!

Tonight, it’s …

BALTIMORE (7-5) at DETROIT (7-6) – 8:40 p.m. ET, ESPN

You remember last year’s Super Bowl run by the Ravens?

John Harbaugh’s club copped playoff road wins in Denver and New England just to get to the SB, and then they held off favored San Francisco in one of the more frantic title games in league history.

This year?

The new-look Ravens can’t get out of their own way on the NFL road with just one single away victory (see the 26-23 triumph at 2 ½-point fav Miami way back in Week 5 play) and if Baltimore doesn’t get back to the post-season this year, then the team’s many road failures that include losses at Buffalo and at Cleveland will qualify as a major reason.

No doubt Baltimore heads into this prime-time tilt off a three-game home winning streak that included last week’s roller-coaster 29-26 win against Minnesota in which five touchdowns were scored in the game’s final two-plus minutes and one of those touchdown-makers – WR/KR Jacoby Jones – figures to play a major role here as a field-flipper of sorts.

The Lions?

They won’t have RB Reggie Bush (calf injury) here and even indoors one has to worry about the Lions’ turnover-prone ways as the NFC North crew has turned the ball over 20 times in its past six games and even if there’s no snow here at Ford Field (we’re kidding, of course), you do wonder whether feast-or-famine QB Matthew Stafford (27 TDs, 14 INTs and 4 lost fumbles) will pitch the Lions in – or out – of this ultra-important game.

Spread Notes – Baltimore is 5-6-2 ATS (against the spread) overall this season and note the Ravens are 0-2-1 spreadwise when playing the other NFC North teams this year. Meanwhile, Detroit’s 6-7 versus the vig this season and a collective 12-17 ATS the past two-plus years when placed in the betting favorite’s role.

Monday Night Football Mismatch

The Ravens travel to Detroit to face the Lions in a battle of teams trying to keep their tenuous hold on a playoff spot. Both played in terrible weather conditions last Sunday, with Baltimore surviving and beating the Vikings 29-26 in that amazing last-2-minute 5-touchdown swing, while Detroit squandered an excellent opportunity in Philly when they allowed the Eagles to run wild in the second half during a nasty snowstorm.

Nothing like that tonight inside Ford Field as these two should put up an entertaining (and profitable for us) night of football. Just $25 gets the winning edge.



Go ahead and strike the pose, Jameis Winston … the 2013 Heisman Trophy is all yours.

Yes, Winston was a landslide winner as we all suspected he would be – the Florida State phenom totaled 2,205 points in the voting and the top runner-up was Alabama QB AJ McCarron with 704 points, but the rub here is the fact that some 115 voters left Winston off their respective ballots.

What … you guys/gals are now the “judges and juries” of this land?

No doubt that the dragged-out events involving Winston and an alleged rape case surely stained his reputation in recent weeks, but he was not proven guilty and shouldn’t have that case intertwine with the Heisman Trophy voting results either.

Boy, we sure hope none of those voters get locked up for something they were not charged with someday – will that take away from what they did on their jobs or as students?

Meanwhile, our other problem is with the past Heisman Trophy winners – only 24 of the past award winners bothered to show up to midtown Manhattan for this ceremony, and dare we suggest that many of the past winners didn’t show because they didn’t agree with Winston getting the award.

Hey, we saw Navy QB Roger Staubach earlier in the day in Philadelphia at the snowy Army vs. Navy game, but we thought he’d be in NYC by 8 p.m. – especially ‘cause they mentioned he’s the 50th anniversary winner of the Heisman from 1963, but he wasn’t there – but without “picking on” other gentlemen we wondered where was Florida QB Tim Tebow (2007), where was Wisconsin RB Ron Dayne (1999), Ohio State RB Eddie George (1995), and some of the old-timers like Auburn QB Pat Sullivan (1971) and Stanford QB Jim Plunkett (1970)?

Do these chaps show or not show now depending on who wins – they go AWOL if it’s not someone they like? Hmmm.

The truth of the matter is Winston – who copped the seventh-largest margin of victory in Heisman Trophy voting – did plenty on his own while leading Florida State to a 13-0 record and a date with Auburn in next month’s BCS Championship Game while throwing for 3,820 yards with 38 TDs – but many of the other so-called contenders really wilted at crunch time (see Baylor’s Bryce Petty and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, to name a couple of guys).

So, we now have back-to-back redshirt freshmen to have won the last two Heisman Trophy winners, and so good luck forecasting who will win next year’s bronzed statue … if it’s not another redshirt frosh, then you might want to keep an eye on not only Winston for an Archie Griffin-like repeat (see 1974-75), or maybe you’ll want to consider the aforementioned Mariota and/or some other Pac-12 or Big 12 quarterback.

NOTE: We will have quick-hitter comments on the Eight (8) remaining December College Football Bowl Games in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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