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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 1:14 AM

Of course, everyone was thinking the same thing last Thursday when Green Bay was hosting Chicago, and it was one of the ugliest NFL games ever played! Jay Cutler Chicago couldn’t move the ball on what had been a soft Green Bay defense. Aaron Rodgers and the Pack were sluggish most of the night before getting things together in the second half.

Was that game telling us something about the dangers of playing Thursday Night football so early in the season?

That’s definitely something that serious handicappers have to consider. Short preparation weeks are tough enough as it is. In the past, those always happened midseason and later…first on traditional Thanksgiving Day games…then, as the NFL got greedy for TV money, with more and more Thursday showings in the second half of the season. This year, teams are dealing with Thursday Night action right off the bat.

*Chicago didn’t have any sort of gameplan for dealing with the Green Bay pass rush…even though this was a team they should be VERY familiar with…and even though the offense seemed to be clicking the week before against Indianapolis.

*Green Bay didn’t score an offensive TD until the fourth quarter, with their first trip to the endzone coming on a fake field goal attempt. This is Green Bay! Fantastic offense. Good weather conditions. And, an opposing defense that had allowed more than 300 passing yards to rookie Andrew Luck the prior week.

Yet, for the bulk of the game, the very ugly Rutgers/South Florida matchup over on ESPN was the prettier of the two contests. Unbelievable!

We have a very similar situation in play tonight in terms of offenses who “look” like they should be positioned to have big games against their opposing defenses. Vegas has posted a total in the 50’s (just like last week), and you can make a math case that the original number might be too low (just like last week). But, if a short preparation week in September helps defenses bully unprepared offenses…then who knows how that will impact tonight’s game?

Let’s run through our key indicator numbers and try to think through the process…



Las Vegas Spread: NY Giants by 1, total of 51

Vegas sees the Giants as four points better on a neutral field based on that price. Home field advantage is worth three points in the NFL. Do you agree with that? New York can certainly play at that level or better. This is a team that went the distance last year of course. But, this season…we’re talking about a team that struggled vs. Dallas and needed a heroic comeback to survive Tampa Bay. Is the Super Bowl hangover still being felt? Another angle for you to consider tonight.



NY Giants: 1-1 (home games Dallas and Tampa Bay)

Carolina: 1-1 (at Tampa Bay and home vs. New Orleans)

The Giants were staring 0-2 in the face before their late rally. But, they did have much more impressive stats in their win over Tampa Bay than Carolina did in a loss to the same opponent. Neither team wants to start the season 1-2 obviously. We should expect peak intensity from both teams in this sport, at least in terms of recognizing the game’s importance. It’s conceivable that Carolina could be flat off a divisional win, and off playing two straight divisional games. Neither has anything dramatic to look forward to next week (Carolina hosts Seattle and the Giants host Cleveland).



NY Giants: -1

Carolina: -1

Nothing here to pollute perceptions. Though the Giants had some bad turnovers last week vs. Tampa Bay, they were only -1 for the game in differential after playing relatively clean vs. Dallas. You could call this category a wash. But…Eli will be dealing with a road game in front of what’s likely to be a frantic crowd. That could cause some turnover issues. Carolina will be facing a pressure defense off a short preparation week, which could throw a monkey wrench or two into the proceedings as well.



NY Giants: 436.5 yards-per-game on 6.7 yards-per-play

Carolina: 382.6 yards-per-game on 6.9 yards-per-play

Wow…look at those yards-per-play numbers! Cam Newton’s still making plays. We know Manning can go deep, and hit receivers short who can break off long runs. Were this a standard Sunday, in great weather, we’d be talking about the Over quite seriously. Do Thursday’s make it a whole new ball game?



NY Giants: 370.0 yards-per-game on 6.8 yards-per-play

Carolina: 372.0 yards-per-game on 5.4 yards-per-play

The yardage is very close,  but you can see that the Giants have had big troubles allowing big plays so far. Manning used ball control to protect the defense during the rally from behind. Carolina ran into New Orleans  at a time of year where one shaky game can mess up your stats for awhile. We think both defenses are better than they’ve shown in those numbers. Yet, both defenses have been vulnerable to opposing offenses who know what they’re doing.




Total Yardage: Tampa Bay 307, NY Giants 604

Rushing Yards: Tampa Bay 79, NY Giants 94

Passing Stats: Tampa Bay 15-28-2-228, NY Giants 31-51-3-510

Turnovers: Tampa Bay 2, NY Giants 3

Third Downs: Tampa Bay 20%, NY Giants 38%

Vegas Line: NY Giants by 7.5, total of 43.5

This is amazing for an NFL game! You just don’t see 500-plus passing yards and 600-plus total yards very often. Most teams emphasize running the clock now with a lead. The Giants didn’t lead until very late after digging a big whole. It’s scary to think what the NFL would look like if scoring volume by itself were what caused winning and losing. The emphasis on protecting leads once you have them has helped hide the potency of many modern quarterbacks.



Total Yardage: New Orleans 486, Carolina 463

Rushing Yards: New Orleans 160, Carolina 219

Passing Stats: New Orleans 31-49-2-323, Carolina 14-20-0-244

Turnovers: New Orleans 2, Carolina 2

Third Downs: New Orleans 53%, Carolina 50%

Vegas Line: New Orleans by 3, total of 53

Shootout, with the Panthers doing more on the ground (200 rushing yardage is huge these days), and the Saints polluting things a little bit by scoring after falling  behind. It’s a bad sign for the Panthers that they allowed almost 500 yards. But, these days…that stuff happens if you lead by more than one score against a team like New Orleans. We’d like to direct you to that 14-20-0-244 passing line for Newton. Strong performance in a critical game.



That all depends on whether or not Thursdays help defenses at the expense of offenses. If they DON’T, then we’re looking at a shootout that will probably look a lot like the games these teams played last week. Well, maybe not 62 and 75 points for combined scoring…but a logical Over bet…where your team side preference is ruled either by backing experience in coin flip games (NYG) or by backing TV home underdogs with something to prove (Carolina).

Now, if defenses are able to disrupt offenses because it’s easier to disrupt than it is to figure out how to block disruptions…then we’ll see a replay of last week’s Chicago/Green Bay game with hurried quarterbacks and poorly thrown passes. That means Under…where your team side preference is ruled by experience under fire (Manning), or the ability to make something out of nothing (Newton).

JIM HURLEY has been working very closely with his team of experts to figure out the right way to play this game. You can purchase the final world anytime Thursday before kick off right here at this website. If you have any questions, call the office at 1-800-323-4453.  Be sure to ask about seasonal packages and remaining baseball when you call.

There are always new handicapping challenges coming up as football evolves alongside the scheduling landscape. Don’t get stuck in the slow lane yelling at the TV. Race to BIG, JUICY WINNERS with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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