Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, November 10, 2014 at 11:01 AM
THE NFL WEEK 10’S “BIGGEST LOSERS”
PLUS OUR MNF PREVIEW: WILL THE EAGLES SOAR WITH QB SANCHEZ?
THE COLLEGE GRIDIRON REPORT: HOW WE SEE THE TOP TEAMS IN THIS WEEK’S PLAYOFF RACE (YOU’RE NOT GONNA LIKE THIS, ‘BAMA!)
Okay - you ask - who exactly were the “biggest losers” in NFL Week 10 action?
For starters, try the NFL Betting Underdogs who finished Sunday’s action a dreary 3-8 ATS (against the spread) and we wonder just how many folks “teased” the likes of Denver/Arizona/Seattle/Green Bay in the late afternoon/evening game ... talk about your easy pickings!
But the real “biggest losers” we’re referring to here are the two teams that seemingly had in-the-bag wins heading into Week 10 but blew it in wholly different manners.
The Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) had rolled into MetLife Stadium in New Jersey riding a three-game winning streak both SU (straight-up) and against the odds but - then again - all three of those games came at the cozy confines of Heinz Field and so maybe Sunday’s 20-13 loss to the 4-point underdog New York Jets shouldn’t have been so shocking.
After all, the oddsmakers installed the Steelers as rather modest road favorites but we wish we had a dime for every guy/gal that asked us this week, “Why aren’t the Steelers a bigger favorite?” And now you know: We knew, taking the Jets (+4) as a Closed Circuit winner.
The Steelers entered the halftime locker room a minus three in the all-important turnover margin category and down 17-3 on the all-important scoreboard and never did get fully engaged despite a late-game QB Ben Roethlisberger 80-yard touchdown pass to WR Martavis Bryant.
The truth is this year’s Steelers - now a dead-even but vig-losing 5-5 spreadwise this season - didn’t show any teeth while allowing the going-nowhere-fast Jets a game-opening 14-play, 72-yard drive that ate up nearly eight minutes before PK Nick Folk banged home a 23-yard field goal and then whether it was botched field goals or fumbles or tipped balls turned into INTs the Steelers frittered away any shot at finishing the day in first place in the jumbled AFC North.
In fact, Pittsburgh may well look back at this Week 10 loss as the “death knoll” to its season as Cleveland’s sked is easy the rest of the way and you gotta believe both Baltimore and Cincinnati will get better quarterback play the next couple of weeks ... right?
The other “biggest loser” is New Orleans.
Okay, so the Saints at least put up a gallant fight before getting beat 27-24 in overtime by the 5 ½-point underdog San Francisco 49ers but just take note that this snapped an 11-game SU home winning streak inside the Superdome (didn’t we just write a Jim Sez piece about why the Saints are so darn tough to beat in their own backyard!) and stalled any recent momentum brought about by the back-to-back wins/covers against Carolina and Green Bay.
Check it out - the Saints (4-5) now have lost two games in overtime (also see Atlanta in Week 1), one game by 2 points (see Week 2 versus Cleveland) and one other game by 1 point (see Week 7 at Detroit) and even though QB Drew Brees (292 yards passing with 3 TDs and 2 INTs) talk media folks afterwards that the team still has “destiny in its own hands” the fact is the Saints allowed a fourth-and-10 pass play to go for 51 yards from QB Colin Kaepernick to WR Michael Crabtree to set up the game-tying/OT-forcing field goal by PK Phil Dawson from 45 yards out and in OT Dawson knuckleballed home a 35-yard game-winner one play after Brees lost a fumble on a sack strip play.
What’s New Orleans’ destiny anyhow? It’ll lose other 1-, 2- or 3-point games the next couple of weeks against visitors from Cincinnati and/or Baltimore?
As long as we’re rounding out our “biggest loser” topic here, how about a word or two regarding the Chicago Bears (3-6) who were 55-14 losers in Green Bay on Sunday Night?
The Bears - who are also 3-6 versus the vig this year - now have lost games this season by 21, 28 and 41 points since late September and so when NBC broadcasters Al Michaels (when not posing with the Stanley Cup) and Cris Collinsworth both suggested that the Bears were a “city treasure” in Chicago we thought they might have meant “buried treasure”.
Believe it or not, the Marc Trestman Era in Chitown has been worse than you thought as the Bears are a collective 7-17-1 ATS since the start of last year (a .292 winning rate) and Chicago’s headed for a fourth straight non-playoff season ... like we said, LOSER!
We’ll dig into the Monday Night Football preview/forecast of the game between the Carolina Panthers at the Philadelphia Eagles but first this key reminder...My handicappers and bloggers have everything all mapped out for tonight’s NFL Week 10 tilt and you can get the Side & Totals winners when you check with us here at Jim Hurley’s Network at the toll-free # of 1-800-323-4453 or right here online. Get all the NCAA Football (there’s games every night this week beginning with a pair of Mid-American Conference tilts on Tuesday), NFL Week 11 and NBA/NCAA Basketball winners as we plan on dashing right through the month of November with another major hot streak.
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PREVIEW
CAROLINA (3-5-1) at PHILADELPHIA (6-2) - 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
The GQ guy is back in the spotlight: Mark Sanchez was a true rise-and-fall character in his days with the NY Jets but now he has a shot to be the king of Philly - his relief role last week wasn’t without a blemish or two as Sanchez threw a pair of picks in that 31-21 triumph in Houston but just how many guys could come off the pine after a year-and-a-half hiatus and throw a 52-yard completion on his first pass?
Sanchez hooked up with WR Jeremy Maclin on that big play against the Texans and now looks to deflate a Carolina club that’s surrendered 28, 38 and 37 points in three of its last five games and it’s starting to look like the Panthers might be in the mail-it-in mode these days.
One thing to watch besides Sanchez’s return to the role of a numero uno quarterback is what will this Carolina defense offer in terms of resistance?
Since Week 3 Carolina ranks 31st (or next-to-last) in the NFL in defense while allowing 30.7 points per game and remember DE Greg Hardy won’t be activated after his jury trial was pushed back to 2015.
Can QB Cam Newton - operating behind a banged-up and inexperienced O-line - steal this one for the NFC South crew?
Spread Notes - Philadelphia has covered three-of-four home games this year but the Eagles are 9-19-1 ATS as hosts since the start of the 2011 season while Carolina is a respectable 13-9 spreadwise as underdogs the past two-plus seasons.
Now, here’s the Monday Night Football game-by-game list so far this year (note all Home Teams are in CAPS below):
|Week 1||DETROIT||- 6.5||NY Giants||35-14|
|Week 1||ARIZONA||- 3||San Diego||18-17|
|Week 2||Philadelphia||+ 3||INDIANAPOLIS||30-27|
|Week 3||Chicago||+ 1.5||NY JETS||27-19|
|Week 4||KANSAS CITY||+3||New England||41-14|
|Week 5||Seattle||- 7||WASHINGTON||27-17|
|Week 6||San Fran||- 3.5||ST. LOUIS||31-17|
|Week 7||PITTSBURGH||- 3||Houston||30-23|
|Week 8||Washington||+ 9.5||DALLAS||20-17 (ot)|
|Week 9||Indianapolis||- 3||NY GIANTS||40-24|
Did you notice that MNF home teams are a money-toasting 3-7 against the odds so far this year?
HOW WE SEE THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF CHASE
The third week of the College Football Playoff rankings will be announced on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET but this is how we believe it should go:
1 - MISS STATE (9-0, 5-0 SEC) ... Go ahead and write the Bulldogs off the top spot after playing at TD favorite Alabama this weekend, but do so at your own risk. Miss State - fresh off its 45-16 non-cover win against Tennessee-Martin - still has all the goods to be sitting pretty at #1 and the best thing about this latest win was the fake punt jump pass. Hey, Dan Mullen’s team has some personality, you know!
2 - FLORIDA STATE (9-0, 6-0 ACC) - Let all the TV talking heads yak up their opinions that claim the Seminoles may be unbeaten but they “aren’t one of the four best teams in the country”. Memo to talking heads: Yes, they are until somebody beats ‘em and last weekend’s 34-20 non-cover win against three-TD dog Virginia played out a familiar tune as the ‘Noles got in a 13-7 hole after the first quarter but the defense surrendered just one TD the rest of the way and WR Rashad Greene hauled in a career-best 13 receptions for 136 yards and one TD and even jawed at a sometimes inaccurate QB Jameis Winston (we were watching!). Next up is a road trip to Miami this Saturday and did you notice where FSU’s just a 2.5-point betting fav right now?
3 - OREGON (9-1, 6-1 Pac-12) - Maybe there was some proof that Pac-12 teams were “giving it away” against the Ducks as that freakish 100-yard Joe Walker return of a “fumble” by numb-skull Utah WR Kaelin Clay paved the way for Oregon’s 51-27 win/cover at the 10-point dog Utes but don’t let that one play overshadow a solid showing by Mark Helfrich’s squad. The Ducks will climb up the CFP ladder one peg thanks to Auburn’s inexplicable home loss to Texas A&M and this 24-point road win that starred QB Marcus Mariota who threw for 239 yards and rushed for 114 yards even though he was far from his usual sensational self.
4 - TCU (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) - Surprise, surprise! We’re leapfrogging (pardon the pun) Gary Patterson’s squad right past Alabama and into the fourth spot in this week’s rankings following that 41-20 win/cover against 6-point dog Kansas State as TCU basically led by double figures throughout and won going away behind a ground game that cranked out 334 yards. True, Alabama’s OT win at LSU was a road triumph against a Top 15 team but, c’mon, the Bayou Bengals spit the bit late in that one - Alabama truly had no right winning and we think the committee folks know it. So, slot TCU above Alabama for #4 and now let’s see how the Horned Frogs fare in upcoming back-to-back road games at Kansas and at Texas.
NOTE: Get our Heisman Trophy Watch List plus lots of College Football News & Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez.