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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, December 14, 2015 at 10:42 AM




Go ahead and spin the wheel ... see what NFL quarterback is gonna be the next to go down with an injury.

Sorry, we're not kidding here as Sunday's potential season-ending right thumb injury suffered by Cincinnati Bengals' star QB Andy Dalton now makes it 14 teams (hope we've counting correctly) that now have been forced to go to a back-up plan at some point at the all-important position in this here-and-now 2015 season.

The list is too lengthy to spell out in its entirety right here but Dalton's first-quarter injury - while attempting to make a tackle after a simply maddeningly-stupid red-zone interception in Cincy's non-competitive 33-20 home loss to the 1-point underdog Pittsburgh Steelers - might have shifted the balance of power for good in the AFC where in one fell swoop the Bengals and Denver Broncos (both now 10-3 after getting beaten in Week 14 action) dropped a peg in the seed listing while the New England Patriots jumped back into the numero uno seed in the conference following Sunday night's sleepy 27-6 win/cover at 4.5-point home dog Houston.

Okay, so Dalton's status will be determined soon enough but it sure seems as if Bengals' head coach Marvin Lewis was readying himself for a whole lot of AJ McCarron at the position while the rumor mill suggests that ancient QB Peyton Manning may indeed be getting ready to reel back in his starting role with the Broncos following their less-than-inspired 15-12 home loss to Oakland.

Funny how one year after all the DeflateGate nonsense, it's New England's very own Tom Brady who hasn't missed any time this year while the likes of Dalton, Manning, New Orleans' Drew Brees, Dallas' Tony Romo and Baltimore's Joe Flacco (among many others again!) have been relegated to the injury report for some/lots of action and so this season of QB attrition continues ... who's next?

Our Monday Night Football preview in just a second here in today's Jim Sez but first this important reminder ...My handicappers and bloggers have everything all mapped out for tonight's NFL Week 14 tilt between the New York Giants at the Miami Dolphins ... get the Side and/or Totals winners this afternoon when you check with us here at Jim Hurley's Network at the toll-free # of 1-800-323-4453 or right here online. Plus get all the upcoming College Football Bowl games (they kick off Saturday with 5 Big Games including BYU versus #22 Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl) plus the Basketball action too ... don't get left out in the cold, folks!

Tonight, it's ...
NEW YORK GIANTS (5-7) at MIAMI (5-8) - 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Put this in your pipe and smoke it: The Giants have not won a game since the last time they invaded the Sunshine State (see 32-18 triumph in Tampa Bay way back in Week 9) while the Dolphins have not scored in excess of 20 points since that everything-went-right 44-26 blowout over Houston back in Week 7 action.

In other words, there has not been a whole lot of glory sprayed on either once-proud franchise and you get the feeling the Dolphins can unofficially be buried in terms of any/all post-season talk with a loss here while the Giants can't expect to be Houdini-like and keep staying in the albeit rotten NFC East race with what could be a fourth consecutive loss here.

Game plan for Tom Coughlin's club is simple: Get the ball in the hands of WR Odell Beckham, Jr. and hope for a handful of "chunk plays" here while Miami desperately needs DT Ndamukong Suh and the rest of this generally underachieving defensive line (ranked 20th in the league versus the pass; 30th in the NFL versus the rush) to get more active against a banged-up Giants O-line that has progressively gotten worse the past few weeks.

Spread Notes - The NY Giants are 6-5-1 ATS (against the spread) overall this year but did you know the Jints are an ugly 4-10 versus the vig in their last 14 games against AFC competition? Meanwhile, Miami is a ragged 4-8 against the odds this season and the Fish are a cumulative 33-51-1 ATS at home since the start of the 2005 campaign.

In other NFL Week 14 News/Notes ...
Is this gonna wind up being a season where two wild-card teams meet in Super Bowl 50? Hey, from the nobody's-gonna-want-to-play-'em-in-the-playoffs department comes talk of the Kansas City Chiefs (8-5) and Seattle Seahawks (also 8-5) maybe running the table right on through to Super Sunday ... and it could happen!

Just check out the fact the Chiefs - following Sunday's rain-filled 10-3 non-cover win against 12.5-point dog San Diego - rolled up their seventh consecutive SU (straight-up) win and this one actually snapped a six-game spread winning streak for Andy Reid's guys. Can we get some love for a KayCee defense that collected five sacks of flu-bitten QB Philip Rivers (three sacks by Dee Ford who stepped into the starting role for an injured Justin Houston) and don't look now but Chiefs' wide receivers now have eight touchdown catches this season one year after KC wide-outs didn't catch a single TD strike. A QB Alex Smith-to-WR Albert Wilson 44-yard catch-and-gallop scoring play wound up being the game-winner here even though in came in the second quarter.

The Seahawks, meanwhile,  cranked out a fourth consecutive SU win - all of 'em have been pointspread covers too against San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Minnesota and now Baltimore - with this easy-as-pie 35-6 win at the 10.5-point pup Ravens just another five-star showing from QB Russell Wilson who aired five touchdown passes and is starting to get more and more support as league MVP (okay, he's way behind Carolina's Cam Newton but closing fast on both Brady and Arizona slinger Carson Palmer).

The Seahawks have shrugged off that Super Bowl hangover that was draped 'round their shoulders for the season's first 10 weeks of play - note Seattle was 2-6-1 versus the vig through Week 10 and, yes, 4-0 ATS ever since - but what is Pete Carroll's crew gonna do about the ground game now that backup-turned-starter RB Thomas Rawls (broken ankle) has followed original starter RB Marshawn Lynch to the medic's office? Maybe RB DeJuan Harris (42 yards rushing on 18 carries with one lost fumble in Baltimore) can be the solution - or maybe Wilson will just have to throw for five TDs a game the last three weeks of regular-season play when facing Cleveland and St. Louis (both games in Seattle) and then a Week 17 game at Arizona ...

Finally, here's a pointspread stat update: The Atlanta Falcons now have lost nine consecutive spread verdicts following Sunday's 38-0 loss in Carolina and Tennessee's now gone 2-7-1 ATS in its last 10 games after Sunday's 30-8 loss at the 8-point favored New York Jets - didn't look like the Titans' defense had any desire to tackle on a couple of J-E-T-S touchdowns, did it?


Okay, so we don't wish to make a proverbial mountain out of a mole hill (or do we?) but now that the 81st Annual Heisman Trophy has been handed out to Alabama RB Derrick Henry, we must ask:
Is it perhaps time to change/tweak the voting?

Henry - who we had as our Heisman leader for each of the past four weeks - deserved the glittery award and wound up compiling 1,832 points in all while beating back the challenges from Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey (1,539 points) and Clemson QB Deshaun Watson (1,165 points) but once again we saw the regional biases popping up: Henry carried all the geographical regions except for the Far West which McCaffrey won but does that simply signify that West Coast voters were sticking with "their candidate" or perhaps those folks in California, Oregon and Washington didn't think enough of Henry's season that included 1,986 rushing yards and key back-to-back 40-plus rushing carries in late-year wins against Auburn and Florida?

No slight to Mr. McCaffrey but his Stanford team lost two games - to a pair of 10-point underdogs in Northwestern and Oregon - and, sorry, that's got to count against a candidate's record while Henry's team lost once at Ole Miss (as a 7.5-point road fav) and all his games down the stretch were must-wins in order to make the playoffs while Stanford was merely an outlier to the post-season in its final three games. McCaffrey was a wonderful story while breaking Barry Sanders' single-season all-purpose yardage record but he had zero pressure after the Cardinal lost to the Ducks on November 14th ... same could not be said of either Henry or Watson who we personally deemed as the deserved runner-up.

The whole question here is can't Heisman Trophy voters - finally - get the geographical aspect of things out of their minds or do these guys constantly yakking about "East Coast" bias have to show off some sort of West Coast ignorance?

Henry should have won by more than 293 points - and Watson deserved a better fate considering he's the star quarterback of the nation's #1 team - but because a section of the voting bloc had to "stick up" for their guy, the whole vote was a closer call than it should have been. And that's a darn shame.

At least the "right guy" won!

NOTE: Get NCAA Bowl coverage plus lots more in the next edition of Jim Sez, so don't miss out!

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