Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, November 6, 2015 at 12:00 AM
THE NFL REPORT:
UNBEATEN BENGALS BUST THE BROWNS 31–10
TO KICK OFF THE WEEK 9 SKED …
PLUS COLLEGE FOOTBALL’S KEY WEEKEND PREVIEWS
INCLUDES #2 LSU AT #4 ‘BAMA
Go ahead and say it slowly … the Cincinnati Bengals are 8–and–oh.
And who cares if big–mouth NFL Network “studio” analyst Deion Sanders wants to sit there and tell Cincy QB Andy Dalton that he still must “prove himself” come playoff time – yes, “Prime Time”, everyone knows Dalton is 0–4 lifetime in playoff games the past four years but do you really have to rain his parade moments after he aired three scoring passes (covering 9, 2 and 19 yards) to all–world TE Tyler Eifert?
The fact of the matter is – unlike last weekend – all the NFL unbeaten are in action here in Week 9 with New England (7–0) hosting Washington, Carolina (7–0) playing host to Green Bay and Denver (7–0) at Indianapolis.
The mighty Bengals just flexed their muscles with the 31–10 no–nonsense win last night against the 13–point underdog Cleveland Browns and anyone that sports 18 TDs and just 4 INTs midway through an NFL season doesn’t deserve to hear any smack from anyone … even a Hall of Fame cornerback/return specialist.
Got it, Deion?
Hey, no one asked but if we had to vote on a league MVP thus far, it would read … New England QB Tom Brady first; Cincinnati’s Dalton second; and Carolina QB Cam Newton third. So there!
My handicappers and bloggers will have all the weekend winners and you can get NCAA Football, NFL Week 9 play and all the NBA action when you check with us here at Jim Hurley’s Network at the toll–free # of 1–800–323–4453 or right here online at www.jimhurley.com.
Hey, don’t forget there’s plenty of key College Football action on tap this weekend (see top previews below) plus there is big–time NFL Week 9 marquee matchups such as Green Bay at Carolina, Denver at Indianapolis and Philadelphia at Dallas.
Check in with us after 1 p.m. ET for weeknight action and after 10 a.m. ET for the Saturday/Sunday games … got it?
Here’s the key tilts on this College Football weekend with all the current College Football Playoff rankings listed below …
#16 FLORIDA STATE (7–1, 5–1 ACC) at #1 CLEMSON (8–0, 5–0 ACC) – 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
The good news for the surging Clemson Tigers is that a win here in Death Valley locks up a berth in next month’s ACC Championship Game; the bad news is Florida State says both QB Everett Golson and RB Dalvin Cook will play in this game. Cook (1,037 yards rushing and 11 TDs) enters as the nation’s second–leading rusher despite the fact he missed last weekend’s 45–21 win/cover against Syracuse while Golson’s thrown for 1,659 yards with 11 TDs and 1 INT.
Still, the Las Vegas sharpie oddsmakers have posted Clemson as hefty 12–point betting favorites here and – we looked it up – the last time FSU was a double–digit underdog was in its regular–season finale back in 2009 … a 37–10 loss at 25–point fav Florida.
Nobody needs to tell you that Clemson QB Deshaun Watson (1,936 yards passing with 20 TDs and 7 INTs plus 386 rushing yards with 4 TDs) has been the big man on campus while the Tigers have beaten six foes by 15–or–more points this season but let’s see how Florida State’s defense plays it … will the ‘Noles “spy” Watson, will they bring extra pressure from LBs/DBs or does Florida State believe it can cover downfield?
Yes, it’s a pick–your–poison special, if you ask us.
Looks at first glance like a “tall price” here to lay, but don’t you agree with the College Football Playoff committee that this Clemson team has played better than anyone else in the land?
Spread Notes – Clemson is 5–3 ATS (against the spread) so far this season but did you realize the Tigers have covered eight of their last 10 head–to–head showdowns with archrival Florida State? Meanwhile, the FSU Seminoles have split their first eight pointspread verdicts this season and they’re an ugly 7–15 ATS since late in the 2013 season.
#2 LSU (7–0, 4–0 SEC) at #4 ALABAMA (7–1, 4–1 SEC) – 8 p.m. ET, CBS
Folks may not be calling this one the “Game of the Century” but it’s the biggest/best SEC game in a season chuck full of wonderful battles – hey, did you know that four of the last 11 games in this rivalry have gone into overtime including last year’s 20–13 ‘Bama win/cover in Baton Rouge?
If you consider the tailback “battle” between LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Alabama’s Derrick Henry to be a “wash” then it’s those other factors such as the kicking game, turnovers and – yes – coaching that’s gonna make the diff here but our Jim Sez sources say Alabama’s secondary remains in a M*A*S*H–like state even with last week’s bye allowing the Tide to recover. Note LSU also had last week off and we sure hope for the Tigers’ sake that they worked on some vertical passing plays to keep this Tide defense “honest” – have to say that if 6.5–point pup LSU is gonna pull the outright upset than QB Brandon Harris (1,098 yards passing with 9 TDs and 0 INTs) must take some heat off RB Fournette here … or else.
Okay, Alabama head coach Nick Saban, you can coach up your team here and then attempt to intimidate the media (again!) afterwards … what a bully!
Spread Notes – LSU is just 3–6–2 spreadwise when battling ‘Bama head–to–head the past 10 years and that includes the 2011 BCS Championship Game when the Crimson Tide (– 2.5 points) blanked the Bengals 21–0. Overall, Alabama is 3–5 vig–wise this season but the Tide’s a solid 25–16 ATS in SEC games the past four–plus seasons.
MINNESOTA (4–4, 1–3 Big 10) at #3 OHIO STATE (8–0, 4–0 Big 10) – 8 p.m. ET, ABC
Can the Ohio State Buckeyes have just one drama–free week when it comes to their quarterbacks?
Geez, just when it appeared J.T. Barrett was all set to resume his starting role with the team, he was cited for driving a vehicle while “impaired” and so he’s been suspended for this Big 10 tilt and … drum roll, please … Cardale Jones is back in the driver’s seat.
Ooops, pardon that pun, J.T.!
Jones did start Ohio State’s first seven games this year but experienced major red–zone woes – that’s where Barrett often came into play in a highly effective stats – but here the defending national champions might just do lots of handing it off to Heisman Trophy candidate RB Ezekiel Elliott who has rushed for more than 100 yards in 13 consecutive games.
Note since 2005 the Buckeyes have averaged 39.1 points a game in seven meetings with Minnesota – yet O–State’s covered only four of those last seven meetings. Just sayin’.
Spread Notes – Ohio State has failed to cover five of its first eight games this year and overall the Buckeyes are just 7–6–1 ATS as Big 10 hosts under fourth–year head coach Urban Meyer. Meanwhile, Minnesota is a tasty 11–4 vig–wise as underdog sides the past two–plus seasons.
#5 NOTRE DAME (7–1) at PITTSBURGH (6–2) – 12 p.m. ET, ABC
For all you folks thinking this has been some sort of “meteoric rise” from the Notre Dame side, keep in mind the Fighting Irish did start off this here–and–now season ranked #11 in the Associated Press poll … okay?
Still, Brian Kelly’s club gets a round of applause for fending off a batch of key injuries but note to all that ND won’t cover this hefty 8.5–point price tag if it can’t be more efficient in the red zone where this Irish club currently ranks 98th in the country … ugh.
One major key here is Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer who aired a pair of red–zone picks in that close–call 24–20 non–cover win at Temple last week – might Kelly tell Kizer to tuck–it–and–run from inside the 10–yard line and thus avoid possible aerial disaster here? Hmmm.
Quickie note on Pittsburgh: Stud WR Tyler Boyd (63 receptions for 578 yards and 4 TDs) must be a double–digit catch guy here for a team that ranks a lousy 94th nationally in passing offense –– no, we couldn’t believe that stat ranking either!
Spread Notes – Notre Dame’s a rollicking 6–2 ATS overall so far this season but note the Fighting Irish is 0–3–1 spreadwise in its last four head–to–head duels with Pittsburgh. Note that the Panthers are 4–4 against the odds this year and a collective 12–18–1 ATS since the start of 2013.
#8 TCU (8–0, 5–0 Big 12) at #14 OKLAHOMA STATE (8–0, 5–0 Big 12) – 3:30 p.m. ET, Fox
Let’s just say the Big 12 is getting ready to verbally slam the powers–to–be who run the College Football Playoff machine:
After all, here’s a pair of unbeaten teams and they are not even sniffing a playoff berth at this early November stage of the season.
Okay, so TCU stayed nice and quiet last year when left out of the four–team fun–and–games but veteran head coach Gary Patterson isn’t gonna be drawn into any conversations right now – instead he’s looking for Heisman Trophy candidate QB Trevone Boykin to blast away an Okie State defense that last weekend surrendered 53 points in a win versus Texas Tech. Boykin is the engine that drives the nation’s second–best scoring offense (48.9 points a game) but if 5–point home pup
Oklahoma State has designs on going 9–and–oh then the country’s eighth–best passing offense (TCU is #4) must get duel QBs J.W. Walsh and Mason Rudolph (21 combined passing TDs) to move the chains and keep Boykin on the sidelines. P.S., last year host TCU crushed Okie State 42–9.
Spread Note – TCU’s a dead–even but vig–losing 4–4 against the Las Vegas prices this year but note the Horned Frogs are 10–4 ATS in Big 12 games since the start of last year. Oklahoma State is 5–3 spreadwise this season and a collective 16–10 ATS as hosts since the start of 2011.
NOTE: Catch our key NFL Week 9 previews in tomorrow’s edition of Jim Sez.