Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at 10:57 AM
WE GET IT ROLLIN’ WITH A THURSDAY NIGHT PREVIEW AS CHARGERS-BRONCOS BATTLE IT OUT IN DENVER
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL UPDATE INCLUDES OUR LATEST INSTALLMENT OF THE HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH LIST AND SNEAK PEEKS AT THURSDAY’S VIRGINIA TECH-MIAMI BASH PLUS ‘BAMA-TENNESSEE
Let this one roll around in your brain for a few seconds: The AFC West hasn’t had a Super Bowl winning team since January 31, 1999 when the QB John Elway-led Denver Broncos busted the Atlanta Falcons 34-19.
In fact, since that night in Miami - when the Broncos strung together back-to-back titles for the only time in team history - there’s been only two other appearances in the Super Bowl for AFC West sides:
That would be Oakland’s 48-21 loss to Tampa Bay back in Super Bowl XXXVII and last year’s humbling/bumbling 43-8 loss by the Broncos against the Seattle Seahawks and so it’s not as if this division has been covered in Super Bowl glory the past decade-and-a-half but two teams with serious Super Bowl hopes clash to begin the NFL Week 8 menu and we’ll get to Thursday’s San Diego at Denver tilt in just a moment but first some NFL pointspread news/notes from ‘round the league and around this aforementioned AFC West:
Note that NFL Betting Favorites enter Week 8 play with a 52-51-2 ATS (against the spread) mark with one pick ‘em game tossed in there and for you “totals” folks the over guys/gals are 57-48-1 vig-wise (a .543 winning rate) but you might think the over players would be doing even better considering this is the most scoring we’ve ever seen through Week 7 play.
In terms of the AFC West, take note that the four teams in this division - Denver, Kansas City, Oakland and San Diego - currently own a 15-9-1 ATS mark (.625 winning rate).
NFL WEEK 8
On Thursday night, it’s ...
SAN DIEGO (5-2) at DENVER (5-1) - 8:25 p.m. ET, CBS
Okay, so Denver QB Peyton Manning is at 510 career passing touchdowns - and counting, of course - but now comes a mighty challenge considering San Diego ranks third in the league in pass defense (allowing 209.6 yards per game) and the Chargers have the goods to cover Manning’s targets for long periods of time.
Look for San Diego rookie CB Jason Verrett (key INT late in win over Oakland two weeks ago) to be a major factor here - but will he get the assignment of covering WR Demaryius Thomas here and can he get “mission accomplished” in slowing down the Broncos’ pass catcher who already has 39 receptions including 11 plays of 20-plus yards?
Right now when you’re starting to get an early feel for league MVP, don’t discount Demaryius Thomas who is having a Hall of Fame-type season.
On the flip side, San Diego is averaging a healthy 26.3 points per game this year but in last weekend’s tough-to-stomach 23-20 loss to Kansas City, WRs Malcom Floyd and Eddie Royals combined for only 70 receiving yards and we believe that SD will come up short here unless QB Philip Rivers (averaging 271 passing yards a game) can get at least a half-dozen “chunk plays” of 20-or-more yards against this Denver defense that’s allowed just 54 total points the past three weeks.
Spread Notes - Denver’s covered its last three consecutive games after getting out of the chute at 0-3 ATS this year but did you know the Broncos are 0-8-3 spreadwise at home in their head-to-head battles with San Diego since 2004 and that includes last year’s 24-17 non-cover win as 7 ½-point favorites. The Chargers, meanwhile, started out this 2014 season on a 5-0 spread run but they’ve failed to cover the past two weeks against Oakland and Kansas City. Overall, the Bolts are a tasty 13-6-1 ATS as underdogs the past two-plus seasons.
My handicappers and bloggers have everything all scoped out and you can get the NFL Week 8 Side & Totals winners beginning with Thursday Night’s game between the San Diego Chargers at the Denver Broncos when you check with us here at Jim Hurley’s Network and then keep rollin’ in the green all week/weekend long with all the NCAA Football, the NFL and - of course - the World Series too as the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals battle it out. Check with us on game days either here online or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 - and continue to make this an October to remember!
THE JIM SEZ HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH LIST
We’re back with the latest Installment of the 2014 Heisman Trophy Watch List where we offer up our top five contenders for college football’s most coveted individual award ... now here’s how we see things shaping up while heading into this October weekend:
DAK PRESCOTT, QB, MISS STATE - Last week’s bye didn’t affect the Heisman Trophy leader-board that still has this M-State Bulldogs star on top with his 1,478 passing yards with 14 TDs and 4 INTs to go along with another 576 yards rushing (56.4 ypc) and 8 scores. Prescott is the heart-and-soul leader of this top-ranked team and this weekend he gets a shot at a Kentucky club that’s allowed 36, 38 and 41 points to be scored in three of its last five games.
MELVIN GORDON, RB, WISCONSIN - We moved up this Badgers’ star one spot in our Heisman Trophy race even though his club also had a bye last weekend (that’s because we have dropped suspended Georgia RB Todd Gurley from our Top 5) and note that the junior star enters Saturday’s Homecoming Game versus Maryland with 1,046 yards rushing (that’s a whopping 7.9 ypc average) with 13 TDs.
AMEER ABDULLAH, RB, NEBRASKA - This Big Red senior star climbed two spots in our Jim Sez Heisman Trophy list after rushing for 146 yards and four TDs in a 38-17 win at 6 ½-point home dog Northwestern. Abdullah’s numbers while entering Saturday’s home game versus Rutgers reads 1,024 yards rushing (6.4 ypc) with 14 TDs and nobody goes from Point A to Point B faster in college football than this Big 10 stud.
MARCUS MARIOTA, QB, OREGON - Okay, so we have this Ducks star a bit lower than most on the Heisman Trophy lists and must admit we’re holding the loss against Arizona back on Oct. 2nd “against him” but no arguing with the numbers as Mariota’s thrown for 1,957 yards with 19 TDs and 0 INTs through his club’s first seven games. Last week Mariota completed 24-of-33 for 336 yards and two scores in a 45-20 win/cover against 21-point pup Washington. Up next: The Cal Golden Bears.
JAMEIS WINSTON, QB, FLORIDA STATE - He’s baaaaack! Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner slipped into our Top 5 thanks to last Saturday’s thrilling 31-27 non-cover win against 9.5point dog Notre Dame. Winston led the Seminoles to touchdowns on three of their first four second-half drives and he finished the evening with 23-of-31 completions for 273 yards (note that he was 15-of-16 passing in the second half) with two TDs. On the year, Winston has thrown for 1,878 yards with 13 TDs and 6 INTs and a late surge this year could still get Winston in that “Archie Griffin” two-time Heisman Trophy discussion.
On Thursday, it’s ...
MIAMI (4-3, 1-2 ACC) at VIRGINIA TECH (4-3, 1-2 ACC) - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
It ain’t exactly the “good ole days” for these two one-time powerhouse teams and - safe to say - the loser of this school-night game is likely out of contention in the wobbly ACC Coastal Division.
Bad news for the Techsters is that DT Luther Maddy is out for the rest of the year with a knee injury - he’s seeking a medical hardship for this season - while news coming from South Beach says the dissatisfaction with fourth-year head coach Al Groh has gotten so bad that reportedly a fund-raising effort has gotten together some $1,580 to fly a “Fire Al Groh” banner over Lane Stadium in the hours preceding this tilt.
Spread Notes - Miami is 3-4 against the odds thus far in this current campaign and note the Hurricanes are 3-8 spreadwise in ACC play the past year-plus. Virginia Tech’s also just 3-4 vig-wise this season and did you know the Hokies are 7-3 ATS in head-to-head battles with “The U” the past 10 years?
On Saturday, it’s ...
#4 ALABAMA (6-1, 3-1 SEC) at TENNESSEE (3-4, 0-3 SEC) - 7:30 p.m. ET, espn2
So how much did Alabama boss Nick Saban wish to get his message across to America last weekend in that 59-0 beat-down of Texas A&M?
Well, the Tide won first downs 30-8, total yards 602-172 and scored a school-record 35 points in the second quarter ... guess Saban proved a point or two when countering the arguments that this year’s Alabama team was just not “national championship caliber”.
Now, here is Alabama QB Blake Sims (268 yards passing and three scoring strikes last week) looking to chew up a young Tennessee defense that’s surrendered 34, 35 and 34 points in three of the team’s last five games.
Spread Notes - Alabama is an ugly 2-4 against the Las Vegas prices thus far this season but note the Crimson Tide’s covered seven of its last eight showdowns against archrival Tennessee. Note the Volunteers are 3-4 ATS this season with covers against Utah State, Georgia and Chattanooga. Tennessee is rotten 9-18 spreadwise against fellow SEC teams the past three-plus seasons.
Lots more key matchups involving Top 25 teams comin’ your way in tomorrow’s Jim Sez as this weekend’s NCAA Football schedule also features #3 Ole Miss at #24 LSU, #20 USC at #19 Utah and Michigan at #8 Michigan State and don’t forget Friday night when #6 Oregon plays at California.