Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, January 1, 2015 at 12:00 AM
FOLKS, THE BOWLS AIN’T OVER YET …
WE’VE GOT QUICK–HITTER JAN. 2
BOWL PREVIEWS AHEAD …
PLUS NFL WILD CARD POINTSPREAD NOTES
The wild ride that is the NFL Playoffs gets movin’–and–shakin’ this weekend and so let’s spend a few moments with a team–by–team glance. Note we list the straight–up record first and then the against–the–spread record below for each Wild Card team:
BALTIMORE (10–6, 8–8) … The Ravens are not exactly peaking while heading into Saturday’s game at Pittsburgh as John Harbaugh’s club has failed to cover its last three in a row and note Baltimore’s 6–11–1 ATS (against the spread) versus divisional foes the past three years.
CINCINNATI (10–5–1, 8–7–1) … The Bengals split their eight road pointspread verdicts this year with the Cincy kids already having gotten snuffed 27–0 at Indianapolis back in Week 7 play.
INDIANAPOLIS (11–5, 10–5–1) … Betcha didn’t know that the Colts are now 31–18–2 spreadwise in the QB Andrew Luck Era (that’s a solid .633 winning rate) and Indy’s 5–2–1 vig–wise at home this year.
PITTSBURGH (11–5, 9–7) … Now, this is how you want to be heading towards the playoffs (minus the key injury to RB Le’Veon Bell, of course) as the Steelers have covered four in a row and note Pittsburgh’s never covered five straight in the Mike Tomlin Era (2007–present).
ARIZONA (11–5, 11–5) … When you’re talking great spread sides in recent NFL history, you better include these Cardinals who now are a collective 21–10–1 ATS under second–year boss Bruce Arians.
CAROLINA (7–8–1, 8–8) … For all the grief NFC South teams got this year, take note the division–winning Panthers never suffered a spread losing streak of more than two games and Ron Rivera’s gang enters this Saturday clash versus Arizona at 12–6–1 ATS as hosts the past two–plus seasons.
DALLAS (12–4, 10–6) … Did you realize the Cowboys just finished their best single–season spread log in more than a decade? Overall, the ‘Boys are on a major roll with four consecutive pointspread “W’s” heading into Sunday’s home game against Detroit … plus Dallas is 6–5 ATS as favs this year after going a composite 9–26–1 ATS as chalk the prior four years.
DETROIT (11–5, 7–9) … The Lions limp into the post–season on a three–game spread losing streak and note the Motowners are 2–6 ATS away this year and 11–22 ATS away the past four years.
Extra, extra …
Get all the month–of–January College Football Bowl Games including plus get all the NFL Wild Card Round games this weekend too when you check with us here at Jim Hurley’s Network.
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THE JAN. 2 COLLEGE BOWL BLITZ
There’s four games on this Friday Bowl menu and so let’s get you quick–hitter previews:
ARMED FORCES BOWL … at Fort Worth, TX
HOUSTON (7–5) vs. PITTSBURGH (6–6) … 12 p.m. ET, ESPN
The storyline here is new coaches on board for both sides after the departure of Pitt boss Paul Chrst to Wisconsin (not unexpected) and the firing of Houston head coach Tony Levine (totally unexpected).
So, that means Pitt offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph calls the shots while Houston DC David Gibbs is in charge here but we say watch for Houston’s dual–threat QB Greg Ward, Jr. (1,612 yards passing and 428 yards rushing after winning the job mid–season) as he’s great at extending plays.
Spread Notes … Houston is 7–1–1 ATS as a dog the past two years while Pittsburgh’s just 4–7–1 vig–wise away since late 2012.
TAXSLAYER BOWL … at Jacksonville, FL
IOWA (7–5) vs. TENNESSEE (6–6) … 3:20 p.m. ET, ESPN
This day–after–New Year’s bowl bash could be all about being “happy to be here” as Tennessee is geeked after missing out on the bowl season each of the past three years while Iowa dropped three of its final four games to slide into this bowl when the Hawkeyes had sights set on a Jan. 1 bowl game.
Check out whether Iowa can get its wounded ground game in order as bullish RB Mark Weisman (802 yards rushing and 14 TDs) hasn’t scored in the past three games while Tennessee frosh RB Jalen Hurd (777 yards rushing) is back after suffering an upper–body injury in the 24–17 non–cover win against Vanderbilt.
Spread Notes … Tennessee is a dead–even but vig–losing 6–6 against the Las Vegas prices this year while Iowa’s also split its 12 spread verdicts this year and the ‘Eyes are 6–2 ATS in bowls the past 10 years.
ALAMO BOWL … at San Antonio, TX
KANSAS STATE (9–3) vs. UCLA (9–3) … 6:45 p.m. ET, ESPN
Both teams ended upbeat regular seasons with double–digit defeats that cost ‘em both New Year’s Day–type bowl bids and so expect these Power 5 conference teams to be a bit surly when they hit the field at the Alamodome here.
The Uclans … blasted 31–10 by Stanford in their finale … are counting on QB Brett Hundley (3,019 yards passing with 21 TDs) to spark ‘em here against a Kansas State squad that was ravaged 38–27 at Baylor back on Dec. 6th when the Wildcats were gunning for a share of the Big 12 crown.
Quarterback Jake Waters (3,163 yards passing and 471 yards rushing with a combined 28 TDs) looks to sticky–fingered WR Tyler Lockett (93 catches for 1,351 yards and 9 TDs) to make all the big plays here.
Spread Notes … Kansas State’s 8–4 against the odds overall this year but the ‘Cats are just 1–4 ATS in bowls the past 10 years. UCLA is just 4–8 spreadwise this year and Jim Mora’s team is 0–3 ATS in non–league games.
CACTUS BOWL … at Tempe, AZ
WASHINGTON (8–5) vs. OKLAHOMA STATE (6–6) … 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
Nobody gave the Okie State Cowboys a chance to make it to a ninth consecutive bowl game this year but Mike Gundy’s gang shocked archrival Oklahoma 38–35 in OT back on Dec. 6th and so here’s the Pokes alive and well and maybe we’ll see more magic from return specialist Tyreek Hill (see 92–yard punt return for a score with less than a minute left in regulation vs. Oklahoma).
On the flip side, Washington is making a fifth straight bowl trip and the Huskies … making their first bowl excursion under head coach Chris Petersen … will look for RB/LB Shaq Thompson to lead ‘em.
Spread Notes … Oklahoma State is 5–7 odds–wise this year and 4–5 ATS in bowls the past decade while Washington (7–6 ATS this season) rolls into this tilt on a three–game ATS win streak and the Dawgs are a solid 15–9 ATS as favs since late 2010.
NOTE: Get our in–depth NFL Wild Card Game Previews plus the remaining bowl games in the next edition of Jim Sez … and Happy New Year!