Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, September 9, 2015 at 10:01 AM
THE NFL KICKOFF GAME IS HERE AS TOM BRADY & CO. BEGIN THEIR DEFENSE OF LAST YEAR’S SUPER BOWL CROWN: IT’S A STEELERS-PATS CLASH ON THURSDAY NITE …
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL MID-WEEK UPDATE: EVERYONE’S TALKING UP #7 OREGON AT #5 MICHIGAN STATE (AND WHY NOT?) BUT THERE’S PLENTY MORE ON THIS WEEKEND DISH
Sorry, but you simply cannot deflate our enthusiasm when it comes to the start of this National Football League season.
The 2015 NFL campaign comes at y’all with extra juice on Thursday night when the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots host the TD-underdog Pittsburgh Steelers – and even though we all hope to be hearing precious little more about DeflateGate there remains rumors running rampant that the Pats have been involved in lots of espionage activity in recent years.
Okay, so we admit that nobody knows where the Patriots hid (or are hiding) all their tricky little cameras these days but we do have lots to offer regarding this NFL Kickoff Game and we’ll get to our Jim Sez Game Preview in just a moment but first …
Jim Hurley is ready for a slam-bang football season!
The NFL 2015 campaign swings into high gear on Thursday Night with the much-ballyhooed marquee matchup between the aforementioned Pittsburgh Steelers at the New England Patriots and then it’s a monstrous Week 1 card come Sunday/Monday – so make sure you’re with Jim Hurley for all the NFL Week 1, NCAA Football and Major-League Baseball winners. Remember the NFL Sunday Night Week 1 game is the New York Giants at the Dallas Cowboys plus there’s the now-annual season-opening Week 1 Monday Night Football doubleheader … this week it’s Philadelphia at Atlanta at 6:55 p.m. ET followed by Minnesota at San Francisco at 10:15 p.m. ET.
The college kids have their own slew of really big games including #7 Oregon at #5 Michigan State and much more (see below) with all of the Top 25 teams in action.
And this is all you have to do: Check in right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 any time after 1 p.m. ET for the Network's Sizzling September only $199 or the Highly Rated Blue Ribbon Football Club just $349, after 11 a.m. ET for all the weekday games and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday/Sunday/Holiday Winners.
On Thursday Night, it’s PITTSBURGH at NEW ENGLAND – 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Just when you thought all things were quiet on the Tom Brady front, now we’ll be hearing NBC announcers Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth wax poetic about how the “just-cleared” superstar slinger is focused on going after his fifth Super Bowl crown.
But what folks have not been discussing is whether or not Brady will be “on his game” here after that hectic, New York City-court filled that some of our Jim Hurley Network insiders claiming has “drained him” both mentally and physically. Hmm, we’ll see about that!
Brady (4,109 yards passing with 33 TDs and 9 INTs last year) will be going up against a rejiggered Steelers defense that ranked a lowly 27th in the league in pass defense last season (allowed 253.1 yards per game) and one key strategic question here is will the Troy Polamalu-less (he’s retired) secondary take chances blitzing Brady and attempt to make him be a dink-and-dunk thrower here?
Naturally, the Steelers – who have not been a touchdown-or-larger underdog since a 23-20 regular-season win at 7-point fav Baltimore back in 2012 – have other woes including the fact RB Le’Veon Bell (two-game suspension) won’t play here and so that means even more of the offensive burden falls on the shoulders of QB Ben Roethlisberger (4,952 yards passing with 32 TDs and 9 INTs a year ago) and WR Antonio Brown (NFL-best 129 receptions for 1,698 yards and 13 TDs last year) and we all saw that Pittsburgh’s offensive line was a major sore spot in the team’s five preseason games.
And there are other major problem spots for the Steelers:
Pro Bowl C Maurkice Pouncey (broken fibula) will miss the first eight weeks of play this year’; talented WR Martavis Bryant (NFL suspension) will miss his team’s first four games; and placekicker Shaun Suisham (knee) was lost in this summer’s Hall of Fame Game setback versus Minnesota and so recently-acquired PK Josh Scobbe steps into this high-pressure role.
Spread Notes – New England is a tasty 13-6 versus the vig at home the past two seasons and that includes a rollicking 55-31 win/cover as 5.5-point home favorites against the Steelers in 2013. On the flip side, Pittsburgh has failed to cover its Week 1 game for the past four years in a row and note the Steelers are just 13-20 ATS (against the spread) away since the start of the 2011 season.
In other NFL Week 1 News/Notes …
Interesting opening-week card has eight road favorites on the 16-game menu – note the largest road favorite at this very moment is 6.5-point favorite Green Bay in Chicago – and you might want to know that last year the Carolina Panthers were never listed as a road favorite at all and yet the defending NFC South champs are a 3.5-point fav in Jacksonville this weekend while the Minnesota Vikings were never road chalk a year ago (obviously, no RB Adrian Peterson for the year beginning in Week 2) and yet here are the Vikes priced as a 2.5-point favorite for their Monday Night Football tilt in San Francisco. Just sayin’ …
Finally, were you like us raising an eyebrow or two at a couple of the NFL Week 1 pointspreads?
The Arizona Cardinals – who are a composite 11-5 against the odds in all home games under now third-year head coach Bruce Arians – are just a 2.5-point favorite against the New Orleans Saints who are coming off the franchise’s second 7-9 SU (straight-up) season the past three years.
And what about the aforementioned Vikings price?
Consider that the SF 49ers opened as a 3.5-point favorite for this late-night tilt and now it’s swung all the way to Minny minus nearly a field goal. Of course, everyone’s been signaling the demise of the Niners the past several months with injuries, retirements and the ouster of head coach Jim Harbaugh all part of the mess since last season ended but we might be saying that Las Vegas had the “wrong team” favored come Tuesday morning.
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL MID-WEEK UPDATE
Roll back the calendar a few days and you’ll note that there were three different Associated Press Top 25 teams that lost in the opening weekend of this 2015 College Football season – that’s then-#15 Arizona State, then-#20 Wisconsin and then-#21 Stanford – but just to let you know that season-opening Top 25 teams went a collective 11-11-1 ATS with a pointspread “push” in UCLA’s 34-16 win against 18-point underdog Virginia and a “no play” in Georgia’s 51-14 rain-shortened win against UL-Monroe (the game was called for good with 9:54 remaining in the fourth quarter and so “all bets were off” in that clash).
Meanwhile, we’re closing in on Saturday’s monster matchup between #7 Oregon at #5 Michigan State – it’s a prime-timer that will be stealing all the network’s attention at ESPN – but don’t sleep on some really important Top 25 games on this weekend’s docket.
Let’s get you some quick hitter comments from three different games involving ranked teams this Saturday:
#7 Oregon at #5 Michigan State – Safe to say that Sparty’s been waiting a looooong time to get some revenge after Oregon thumped the green gang 46-27 a year ago in Eugene and did you recall that the Ducks roared back from a 24-18 halftime deficit in that Sept. 6, 2014 affair? Michigan State is not invincible at home as Mark Dantonio’s club lost 49-37 to Ohio State last year and actually went 2-5 SU in East Lansing back in 2012.
#19 Oklahoma at #25 Tennessee – Here’s two of the ranked teams that covered as huge betting favorites last weekend but count us as being super-impressed with the OU Sooners’ 41-3 win against 31.5-point dog Akron. The early-season Heisman Trophy hopes of Oklahoma RB Samaje Perine (11 carries for 33 yards) took a major hit but QB Baker Mayfield (388 yards passing and three TDs) reminded a whole lot of folks of an in-his-prime Sam Bradford.
Hawaii at #1 Ohio State – Gee, the Buckeyes are “only” a 39.5-point betting favorite for this clash in “The Horseshoe” but you can be sure head coach Urban Meyer would like to get a look at his whole roster after some albeit shaky moments in Monday’s 42-24 win/cover against 13.5-point dog Virginia Tech. Okay, so as it turned out all three Buckeye quarterbacks participated in Monday night’s triumph versus Tech as starter Cardale Jones and backup J.T. Barrett contributed 351 total rushing/passing yards while one-time star QB Braxton Miller was a blur as a wide receiver as he scored on a 54-yard scoring pass play from Jones and added a whirling dervish 53-yard touchdown run – but no time at QB for Mr. Miller.
Note: Catch up with more NCAA Football and NFL Week 1 News & Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez.
We started the college season on Thursday winning with the UNDER in the Michigan/Utah game, and Minnesota (+17) over TCU 17-23 for 2-0! Friday we won again with Western Michigan (+17.5) over Michigan State 24-37. On Saturday we scored with our TV Triple Crown when Louisville, Virginia, and Notre Dame all covered the spread. Our Blowout of the Week was also a winer with NC State (-26) over Troy 49-21. Our other big won was on the Hotline with BYU (+6) over Nebraska 33-28, but lost on Bowling Green and Wisconsin. Sunday we had Marshall (-7) as the beat Purdue 41-31, but lost with Virginia Tech on Monday. Click here and sign up today for my Sizzling September and the FULL SEASON of College & NFL for just $199