Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, October 27, 2014 at 11:58 AM
THE NFL WEEK 8 REPORT:
BIG BEN, BRADY & BREES ALL SHINE IN KEY HOME WINS PLUS WE BRING YOU THE MNF PREVIEW AS WASHINGTON-DALLAS BATTLE IT OUT IN “JERRY’S HOUSE”
COLLEGE FOOTBALL UPDATE:
WE GET READY FOR THE FIRST PLAYOFF RANKINGS AND WATCH K-STATE AND MICHIGAN STATE CLIMB
THE WORLD SERIES: WHAT TO WATCH IN TUESDAY’S GAME 6
There were three NFL teams that exceeded the 40-point mark in Sunday’s Week 8 action ... you could play a little Sesame Street game here and ask which one doesn’t “belong” as Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Buffalo all registered 43 points or more - but the proverbial bottom line here is that the sport’s biggest stars were the ones who turned up the voltage.
And you thought Denver QB Peyton Manning had the market covered with his three touchdown passes this past Thursday night in that 35-21 win/cover against 9-point underdog San Diego!
As we said in our Jim Sez headline, it was a late October day/night for Big Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady and Drew Brees - three quarterbacks who have combined for a gazillion yards passing in their electric careers not to mention their six combined Super Bowl titles and nine Super Bowl appearances.
We’ll get to their glory day in just a moment plus get you our Monday Night Football Preview - that’s the Washington Redskins at the Dallas Cowboys - but first this key reminder:
Jim Hurley and his Handicappers and Bloggers get you all the Side & Totals winners each/every day when you check in via our exclusive toll-free telephone #of 1-800-323-4453 or right here online and don’t forget besides this Washington-Dallas tilt on MNF there’s a slew of great gridiron action even before we get to the always jam-packed Saturday/Sunday cards ... there’s the Florida State at Louisville bash in College Football this Thursday Night and, of course, NFL Week 9 roars into action with a key NFC South game as New Orleans is at Carolina on the NFL Network. Plus, it’s Game 6 - and maybe even a Game 7 - in the World Series as the San Francisco Giants go for their third title in five years and let’s not forget the NBA rolls into action this week and we’ll pile up the daily profits each/every night.
NFL WEEK 8
PITTSBURGH 51, INDIANAPOLIS 34 - For a while there it appeared that the aforementioned Mr. Roethlisberger was gonna break the NFL’s all-time single-game passing record but instead he settled for “only” 522 passing yards with six touchdowns in this major route at Heinz Field and how about the final stat line for Roethlisberger:
He completed 40-of-49 passing tries for 522 yards with six touchdowns and that means he actually threw for 122 yards more than Indy slinger Andrew Luck who happened to have garnered all the pre-game hype with a Colts team that entered Pittsburgh on a snazzy five-game SU (straight-up) and five-game ATS (against the spread) winning streak.
Welcome to the status of playing second fiddle here, Mr. Luck!
The amazing thing about Roethlisberger and the Steelers - now 5-3 SU - is that just prior to halftime of last Monday’s game against Houston it appeared the whole season was a car wreck but then came those now-famous 24 points in three-plus minutes time before the half and the eventual 30-23 win/cover and next this shindig win against the Colts.
Don’t look now but the Steelers are home Sunday Night for a “payback game” against the Baltimore Ravens and then comes back-to-back road games at the hapless/hopeless New York Jets and at Tennessee before a bye in Week 12. Who’s to say Roethlisberger and Company now won’t be 8-3 by the time they get to take a break?
NEW ENGLAND 51, CHICAGO 23
Here’s a little memo to the rest of the NFL: The reports five weeks ago were, in fact, premature ... Tom Brady, as it turns out, isn’t finished! In fact, Brady might well be making plans deep into this winter for either a sixth Super Bowl appearance (yes, we know he has not won in all since the 2004 campaign!) or a spot in this year’s Pro Bowl.
In Sunday’s laugher win against the dysfunctional Bears, Brady threw five touchdown strikes - three of them to brutish TE Rob Gronkowski -and completed 30-of-35 passing tries for 354 yards and four of those five INCs were drops. Wow-wow-wow!
Maybe Brady’s attitude that the Week 4 loss in Kansas City wasn’t his “final act” has stirred this passionate signal-caller who weeks ago was forced to fend off silly talk that he “wanted out” of New England and wasn’t getting along with head coach Bill Belichick.
Gee, those two have a funny way to show they’re not getting along!
Brady’s air raid against the Bears may not have appeared all that surprising when you consider Chicago’s defense is wrought with injuries but take a deeper look at the numbers here and you see Brady’s strikes to Gronkowski - he had nine receptions for 149 yards - were eye-catching but so too were the 11 receptions worth 124 yards and one TD by born-again WR Brandon LaFell who might wind up being one of the most important players on the field this Sunday when Manning and the Broncos invade Foxboro for this “Game of the Year” tilt.
Make sure you’re back with us all week long as we’ll have plenty to say about Broncos-Patriots.
NEW ORLEANS 44, GREEN BAY 23 - Like Brady, there was Saints QB Drew Brees suffering the slings and arrows of critics who claimed he had “lost his fastball” but maybe these guys/gals got muzzled with this prime-time game in which Brees threw for 311 yards with 3 TDs but also helped TE Jimmie Graham (a modest 5 catches for 59 yards and one TD) and rookie WR Brandin Cooks (6 receptions worth 94 yards and one long-distance score) regain some of their long-lost confidence and swagger.
No doubt this game turned when the Packers couldn’t get “7” in a trip deep into New Orleans territory as an apparent hamstring twinge limited the mobility of QB Aaron Rodgers (28 completions in 39 attempts for 418 yards and one TD) and suddenly Green Bay scored just one second-half TD with a less-than-100 percent healthy Rodgers while Brees and mates made major hay, much in part because one-time Heisman Trophy winner RB Mark Ingram finally ran like a Pro Bowl star with 172 rushing yards on 24 carries (and talk about breaking tackles!).
The Saints may be just 3-4 SU now but they’ll be playing for first place come Thursday’s tilt in Carolina and then - mark it down Who Dat fans - the team is home for three consecutive games where this team is 3-and-oh and averaging better than 33 points a game.
On Monday Night Football, it’s ...
WASHINGTON (2-5) at DALLAS (6-1) - 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Did you ever think heading into this current campaign that one might utter the question ... will the Cowboys ever lose?
Hey, this was a club that was supposed to win 7 or 8 games and here they are rollicking along with a great shot at getting the numero uno seed in the NFC Playoffs.
Lots have gone right with the ‘Boys but - let’s face it - it all begins with this stunningly good offensive line that plows open major holes for NFL rushing leader RB DeMarco Murray (913 yards rushing and 7 TDs) and we’ll attach a number here on Murray this evening:
Get him the ball 25 times in all and watch the Cowboys cover the hefty 9.5 or 10-point price - anything less and who knows as the Redskins enter this MNF clash with three different quarterbacks hoping (expecting?) to see playing time but the money’s on journeyman Colt McCoy to land the start with both Kirk Cousins and Robert Griffin III both in reserve.
Two keys for Jay Gruden’s club should it wish to hang in here tonight at “Jerry’s House”:
First, Washington must get speedy WR DeSean Jackson to make a splash here - believe it or not in his 10 games as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles against the Cowboys he managed only one receiving TD.
Finally, Washington - which has lost its last eight straight games to NFC East foes - must get physical with WRs Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams who have a way of wrecking games with their “chunk plays”.
Dallas QB Tony Romo is in a real spread-the-wealth mode these days and he’ll look to get Bryant, Williams and TE Jason Witten some 20-to-25 passes in all ... stay tuned.
Spread Notes - Dallas is 5-2 versus the vig overall thus year but did you know the Cowboys are a dreary 3-12 ATS in their last 15 spread verdicts against Washington? The ‘Skins enter this game with a shabby 2-5 ATS mark on the year and they’ve failed to cover six of their last eight divisional tilts.
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT
The first serving of this year’s College Football Playoff (CFB) rankings get released at 7:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday night and most in-the-know folks believe that Ole Miss - off its painful 10-7 loss at LSU - has fallen way off the four-team playoff berths but the $64,000 question is which teams will get the #1-thru-#4 slots for now?
Our best guess-estimate is that Miss State, Florida State, Alabama and Oregon (slightly over Auburn) will man these spots for now but don’t dare sleep on the Big 10 or the Big 12 when it comes to seeing what lies ahead.
After all, Michigan State (7-1) just polished off 17-point pup Michigan 35-11 and enters this week ranked #8 in the Associated Press poll and possibly even higher in these first CFP rankings. Hey, Sparty, we saw what you did late by rushing to score that spread-winning TD against the Wolverines!
Then there’s Kansas State (6-1) fresh off its 23-0 win against Texas. Bill Snyder’s club is only #11 in the current AP rankings but we have a sense the Wildcats will be at #7 or #8 come this first CFP poll ... did you know the ‘Cats now have covered their last five games in a row while having beaten four opponents by 23-or-more points?
Kansas State has a game at TCU on Nov. 8th and that might be the game to push K-State into the top four or five in two weeks from now.
THE WORLD SERIES
SAN FRANCISCO at KANSAS CITY - Giants lead series 3-2
The good news for the San Fran Giants is that they need just one win to close out their third World Series title in the last five years ... the bad news is that LHP Madison Bumgarner isn’t scheduled to start any more games no matter what he might be saying to Fox analyst Ken Rosenthal!
Bumgarner - who allowed four hits and no walks while fanning eight batters in Sunday’s 5-0 Giants win - may have a rubber arm as he’s started six post-season games but hard to believe after a 117-pitch outing that he’ll be good for anything more than a batter or two if needed in a potential Game 7.
So what’s the here-and-now for Game 6?
The Royals must tweak their lineup - yes, DH Billy Butler is back after sitting out the three games in San Francisco save for striking out as a pinch-hitter in Game 5 - but LF Alex Gordon (hitting .190) and C Sal Perez (.200) must be moved down to the seventh/eighth/ninth spots here and Kansas City must attack RHP Jake Peavy here with some early-game lightning/thunder.
On the flip side, the Giants probably will need two innings or more from star RHP Yusmeiro Petit - this dude has been the co-MVP of this series with Bumgarner - plus you wonder if the Giants can keep winning without any home run power as they didn’t yank a single ball out of AT&T Park this past weekend.
Aren’t you due, Buster Posey?
NOTE: Get our Jim Sez Mid-Week Report in our next column - we’ll have NFL, NCAA Football, NBA and MLB News to report!