Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, October 7, 2015 at 9:57 AM
OUR JIM SEZ MID-WEEK REPORT - COLTS-TEXANS KICKS OFF NFL WEEK 5, NCAA FOOTBALL GOODIES PLUS THE NATIONAL LEAGUE WILD CARD GAME: IT'S CUBS-PIRATES TONIGHT
Hey, the best thing that can happen to the NFL these days is to get right back on that proverbial horse and play an exciting football game on Thursday Night - the batted ball incident that marred Seattle's 13-10 non-cover win against 10-point underdog Detroit this past Monday evening surely put the men in stripes and the league's administrative folks in a bad light.
Please, how many times can Dean Blandino (head of NFL officiating) go back and forth after a game ... we saw/heard three different explanations while instead he should have come right out and admitted the mistake and done so in time for the Lions to retain the ball with a shot to score either the go-ahead touchdown or the game-tying field goal.
Folks, this wasn't a case of some "fix" but rather mere incompetence by the back judge - aren't all of the on-field officials supposed to know the rules? - and so good luck Lions trying to dig out of an 0-4 start. Just call it more egg-on-face for the NFL which botched this one pretty good.
Jim Hurley's Handicappers and Bloggers have everything all mapped out for a big-time winning week and it gets started with this NFL Week 5 Thursday Night game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans. Get the Side & Totals winners here plus all the other NFL and NCAA Football and all the Major-League Baseball Playoffs too when you check with us on game days either here online or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 - make this an October to remember! There's plenty on the menu this week/weekend including Saturday's college card that features such monster matchups as California at Utah, Miami at Florida State and TCU at Kansas State.
NFL WEEK 5
On Thursday Night, it's ...INDIANAPOLIS (2-2) at HOUSTON (1-3) - 8:25 p.m. ET, CBS/NFL Network
Will he or won't he? That's the more-than-$64,000 question revolving around Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck (shoulder) who missed last Sunday's wild 16-13 non-cover overtime win against 4.5-point underdog Jacksonville ... but has his wing gotten any better? It was reported following Monday's practice that Luck was "limited" in the workout and our Jim Sez insiders say right now he's a little less than 50-50 to play although he's still got a couple of more recovery days. If Luck does sit again, should the Colts' game plan necessarily include 40-year-old QB Matt Hasselbeck throwing close to 50 passes again (see 30-of-47 for 282 yards and one TD in his first start since 2012)? Hmmm. The Texans remain a major mess - their lone 2015 win has come against the woeful Tampa Bay Bucs - and this quarterback dilemma involving Brian Hoyer and Brian Mallett just won't go away ... though we don't consider either a quality NFL starter!
Spread Notes - Indianapolis is 4-0-1 ATS (against the spread) in its last handful of showdowns against Houston while the host Texans enter this prime-time game with a wobbly 6-12 spread mark in all home games since the start of 2013 season.
NCAA FOOTBALL PREVIEWS
Lots of goodies on this week's docket - and lots of Jim Hurley Network winners are straight ahead -- and so let's get you started:
On Thursday, it's ...WASHINGTON (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12) at #17 USC (3-1, 1-1 Pac-12) - 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
Will the real Men of Troy please stand up? USC bounced back from a Pac-12-opening 41-31 loss versus Stanford three weeks ago to crush Arizona State 42-14 on Sept. 26th (the Trojans were idle last weekend) and now all eyes are on USC head coach Steve Sarkisian - yes, the former head coach at Washington - and his QB Cody Kessler who's zinged 15 TD passes and just one INT thus far in this 2015 season. Our Jim Hurley Network insiders claim the 16.5-point underdog Huskies only have a shot if kid QB Jake Browning keeps the UW offense on the field for 35-to-40 minutes and thus limit Kessler's snaps.
On Saturday, it's ...MARYLAND (2-3, 0-1 Big 10) at #1 OHIO STATE (5-0, 1-0 Big 10) - 12 p.m. ET, Big 10 Network
Right-e-o, the defending champion Ohio State Buckeyes have not resembled any sort of world-beater through the first month-plus of this current campaign as Urban Meyer's club has been leaking oil and who knew starting QB Cardale Jones (just 867 yards passing with 5 TDs and 5 INTs) would be such an up-and-down player? Looks to us as if RB Ezekiel Elliott (729 yards rushing, 7.3 ypc and 8 TDs) will be in line for a 30-touch game against a Maryland defense that's surrendered 31.8 points per game.
#10 OKLAHOMA (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) vs. TEXAS (1-4, 0-2 Big 12) - 12 p.m. ET, ABC
Here's a fact: It may seem as if the Texas Longhorns have been down-and-out for years but the reality is these two long-time foes have split their last 10 Red River Rivalry games and note half of these last 10 games have featured double-digit pointspreads one way or the other. Here, Oklahoma's priced as a 17-point betting favorite (up from an opening-line number of 15.5 points) and you get the sense that Bob Stoops' club has major positive mojo following last weekend's electric 44-24 win/cover against West Virginia when the defense forced five turnovers and registered seven sacks while QB Baker Mayfield threw for 320 yards and three TDs ... got any answers, Charlie Strong?
#13 NORTHWESTERN (5-0, 1-0 Big 10) at #18 MICHIGAN (4-1, 1-0 Big 10) - 3:30 p.m. ET, Big 10 Network
Break out the khaki pants ... it's Homecoming Day in Ann Arbor and Wolverines' head coach Jim Harbaugh is pounding the drums as we near this major Big 10 battle. Okay, so Mr. Harbaugh is doing it with ground-and-pound and an ultra-physical defense - one that ranks third nationally against the pass (allowing 112.6 ypg) and 5th nationally against the rush (allowing 71.4 ypg) and Big Blue's surrendered just two TDs in its last four games and BTW the more we get away from that season-opening 24-17 loss in Utah the better that loss looks, right? Northwestern has banged out pointspread wins in four of its first five games including that 19-10 triumph at 3.5-point fav Duke back on Sept. 19th - a big Jim Hurley Network winner, remember! - and if RB Justin Jackson (636 yards rushing, 4.6 ypc) can find some creases in the Michigan defensive front than the 8-point underdog Wildcats could be "live" here.
Hey, lots more NCAA Football Top 25 previews in tomorrow's Jim Sez, so don't miss out!
NATIONAL LEAGUE WILD CARD GAME
Tonight, it's ...CHICAGO CUBS (97-65) at PITTSBURGH PIRATES (98-64) - 8 p.m. ET, TBS
If it's an NL Wild Card Game, then we must be in Pittsburgh! For the third straight year the Buccos are getting to host the league's wild card game - remember they beat Cincinnati two years and got whacked by San Francisco last year - and here the road team is a hefty favorite (- 135) behind NL Cy Young winner-to-be RHP Jake Arrieta (22-6, 1.77 ERA and just 150 hits allowed in 229 innings pitched) but could this be a case where Pirates RHP Gerrit Cole (19-game winner) feels slighted and winds up being the real star? Hmm. One what-to-watch item on our agenda here: If the Pirates have a one-run lead in the ninth, will 51-save guy Mark Melancon shrink in the spotlight or will he show he's a prime-time closer?
Note: Get more NFL Week 5 Previews in the coming editions of Jim Sez as we check out the league's unbeatens ... we'll have plenty to say about Washington at 4-and-oh Atlanta, Seattle at 4-0 Cincinnati and 3-0 New England at Dallas.