Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 2:42 PM
IT’S TIME TO TACKLE TODAY’S HOT TOPICS AS WE DELIVER QUICKIE WEEK 12 PREVIEWS PLUS WHO’S GOT THE KILLER LATE-YEAR SCHEDULES AND ARE “DEAD TEAMS” WORTH WAGERING ON?
Last weekend there was plenty of buzz regarding the fact that there were four games pitting teams against one another with .667-or-better win percentages - the first time it happened this late in a season in eons.
Now, turn around one week later and you’ve got three marquee matchups (we’ll get to them in a moment) but all the other games on this NFL Week 12 card either sport one or even both teams with non-winning records.
In fact, here’s the list of NFL Week 12 games where either one or both of the teams sport .500-or-worse marks:
On this Thursday-before-Thanksgiving, there’s Kansas City (7-3) at Oakland (0-10);
On Sunday, there’s Cleveland (6-4) at Atlanta (4-6); New York Jets (2-8) at Buffalo (5-5); Tampa Bay (2-8) at Chicago (4-6); Cincinnati (6-3-1) at Houston (5-5); Jacksonville (1-9) at Indianapolis (6-4); Green Bay (7-3) at Minnesota (4-6); Tennessee (2-8) at Philadelphia (7-3); St. Louis (4-6) at San Diego (6-4); Washington (3-7) at San Francisco (6-4); Dallas (7-3) at New York Giants (3-7); and on Monday Night Football it’s Baltimore 6-4) at New Orleans (4-6).
That’s lots of losing/mediocre teams out there - agree?
So, that leads us to the first of our NFL Week 12-related topics and that is...Are “dead teams” or clubs that are basically out of playoff contention still worth wagering on at this later stage of the season?
In a word, the answer is “yes” and mainly because many of these “dead teams” have reason to play whether it’s because you have a young team building for the future or perhaps you have a team looking to “save” a head coach’s job.
Okay, so we’re not releasing any Week 12 sides right here/right now for the Jim Hurley Network but we will take a couple of teams under advisement in our handicapping this weekend, starting with the ...
NEW YORK JETS (2-8) - There’s little reason to believe that fifth-year head coach Rex Ryan will be back for the 2015 season but word inside the J-E-T-S locker room following the bye week is that this team will play hard for the popular boss-man and the recent insertion of QB Michael Vick into the starter’s role gives the impression that this particular “dead team” will be trying both here in Buffalo (weather permitting) in Week 12 and beyond.
MINNESOTA (4-6) - The Vikings were dealt just another blow this week when it was announced RB Adrian Peterson would not play again this year after his alleged child abuse issues but expect rookie head coach Mike Zimmer to get every ounce of oomph from this team. The Vikings host 9 ½-point fav Green Bay this weekend and while Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers continues to play out-of-his-mind football the fact is Minny’s held four of its last five opponents to 21 points or less and so that rather no-name defense is going all-out. Don’t necessarily sleep on the Vikes the rest of the way and remember Minnesota (5-5 against the spread this season) continues to build with rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater.
ST. LOUIS (4-6) - All you needed to know about last weekend’s 22-7 Rams’ win against 8 ½-point favorite Denver is that St. Loo’s reared defensive front line was told all week it wouldn’t get to QB Peyton Manning ... yeah, right. Not only are Jeff Fisher’s guys still in there chuckin’ it while having gone back to second-string QB Shaun Hill but the NFC West team could throw major monkey wrenches into the playoff plans of some other divisional rivals - note St. Loo has remaining games against Arizona and Seattle and it already owns that 13-10 shockeroo win in San Francisco.
There won’t be a post-season for the Jets, Vikings or the Rams but wager against ‘em at your own peril, folks!
My handicappers and bloggers have everything all scoped out and you can get the NFL Week 12 Side & Totals winners beginning with tonight’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs at the Oakland Raiders when you check with us here at the red-hot Jim Hurley’s Network and then keep rollin’ in the green all week/weekend long with all the NCAA Football, the NFL, the NBA and now NCAA Basketball too!
There’s College Football this evening too with a trio of TV games including #12 Kansas State at West Virginia (7 p.m. ET on Fox 1 Sports), North Carolina at Duke (7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN) and Arkansas State at Texas State (9:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU).
And remember there’s loads of College Basketball action on tap all weekend long including some real nice backyard brawl matchups such as North Carolina vs. Davidson (from Charlotte) on Saturday afternoon and Long Beach State at UCLA on Sunday night. So make sure you’re all aboard for another exciting College Hoops season! Check with us on game days either here online or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 - pile up the profits this November!
THE NFL WEEK 12 QUICKIE PREVIEWS
Tonight, it’s KANSAS CITY (7-3) at OAKLAND (0-10) - 8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Let’s just say the bottom fell out of the Raiders’ season a long time ago - Oakland’s lost five of its 10 games this year by twin-figure margins -- but can the silver-and-black play spoiler here against a Chiefs’ team that has won five games in a row both SU (straight-up) and ATS (against the spread) since that Week 6 bye? Expect another heavy dose of RB Jamaal Charles who shredded Seattle last Sunday at Arrowhead (see 20 carries for 159 yards and two TDs) while that fierce KC pass rush should dunk QB Derek Carr a few times here - does the 7-point road price appear too “soft” to you?
Spread Notes - Kansas City is an electric 8-0-1 against the odds this year ever since that Week 1 home loss to Tennessee. Meanwhile, Oakland is a better-than-you-think 5-5 ATS this season and the Raiders are 8-5 spreadwise in their last baker’s dozen games against rival KayCee.
On Sunday, it’s ARIZONA (9-1) at SEATTLE (6-4) - 4:05 p.m. ET, Fox
The best game on the Sunday sked is right here in the great northwest - but whoever thought that it would be the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks that were facing the “must-win” role, right? If Pete Carroll’s crew needed any more bad news, the team lost star C Max Unger (high ankle sprain) for the next three-to-four weeks and so maybe bullish RB Marshawn Lynch (averaging 4.6 yards a pop with 9 TDs) will have major trouble running against this Arizona defense that ranks third league-wide against the rush (80.5 ypg) and that ‘Zona secondary keeps stepping it up against all challenges as proven in last week’s 146 smash-mouth win against Detroit.
If you’re looking for an X-factor here with this Cardinals’ offense that must roll on with QB Drew Stanton (see career-best 306 passing yards last week) then check out explosive rookie WR John Brown who may be more significant than ever with the injuries to both RB Andre Ellington (foot) and veteran WR Larry Fitzgerald (sprained MCL). If John Brown can catch two of three “chunk plays” here, it could spell a road upset win for the blazing-hot Redbirds.
Spread Notes - Arizona rolls into this NFC West bash on a six-game pointspread winning streak and the Cardinals are 18-7-1 ATS under second-year head coach Bruce Arians. Apparently, Seattle’s in that Super Bowl hangover mode spreadwise with a sour 4-6 ATS mark but the Seahawks do sport a solid 16-10 spread mark in divisional games the past four-plus seasons.
DETROIT (7-3) at NEW ENGLAND (8-2) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
The New England Patriots haven’t lost since late September - guess Bill Belichick’s crew did take it personally when all of their many critics came out of the woodwork following that ugly 41-14 MNF loss in Kansas City - but now that the Pats have a “new star” in RB Jonas Gray who comes off a 199-yard, four-TD showing in Indianapolis and the $64,000 question is will he play big here against the NFL’s top-ranked rush defense (68.8 ypg)?
Meanwhile, the Lions play their game-before-Thanksgiving tilt with some real sense of urgency after being held to 262 offensive yards in that aforementioned 8-point loss at Arizona - might QB Matthew Stafford show a better feel in the pocket here as it sure seems he often doesn’t feel the pressure coming? If the Pats can harass/sack Stafford a batch of times in this interconference clash, then the Lions will gobble-gobble down a second straight loss and just about kiss away any/all hope to win the NFC North.
Spread Notes - Detroit is just 7-11-1 spreadwise as underdog plays since the start of the 2011 campaign. New England has covered five of its last six games this season and did you know the Patriots are 5-1 ATS versus NFC teams since the start of last season?
MIAMI (6-4) at DENVER (7-3) - 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS
Okay, so just the other day we were busy posting our top five NFL MVP candidates and we had Broncos’ QB Peyton Manning right at the top - but gotta admit that it’s now been twice in the past three weeks that Manning’s post-game press conferences have included the phrase “I stunk” as losses at New England and then last week at St. Louis have exposed the Broncos’ wobbly O-line and made the multi-MVp winner look human.
No doubt the Dolphins - who rank second in the league in pass defense (208 ypg) will have “gone to school” in the film room to dissect the Manning weaknesses and we won’t be surprised if they all-out blitz him a whole bunch of times here.
If you’re looking for someone that could make or break this game for the TD-favored Broncos, then check out slot WR Wes Welker who has caught only 30 passes for 264 yards this year but he could be kept busy with all the receiver injuries here (see TE Julius Thomas and WR Emmanuel Sanders - neither of whom practiced on Wednesday.
Spread Notes - Denver’s split its first 10 pointspread verdicts this year but the Broncos are a heady 15-8-1 ATS at home the past two-plus seasons. Miami has covered 11 of its last 17 overall games while dating back to last year.
NFL’S LATE-YEAR KILLER SKEDS
Memo to a few NFL teams that may be getting ready to print their playoff tickets ... not so fast, my friends!
The Baltimore Ravens (6-4) still have road games remaining at New Orleans (this Monday Night), in Miami and at Houston ...
The Cincinnati Bengals (6-3-1) play four of their final six regular-season games on the road and AFC North trips into Cleveland and Pittsburgh - Weeks 15 and 17, respectively - will be major minefields, of course
And the San Diego Chargers (6-4) may well have the roughest one-two punch in the final two weeks of play as the Bolts - not exactly playing their best football of the year these days - are at San Francisco and at Kansas City and so maybe Mike McCoy’s club better have its 10 wins before it ever packs its bags for these season finale tilts.
NOTE: Get more key topics tackled in tomorrow’s edition of Jim Sez.