Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, December 26, 2015 at 11:50 AM
MORE NFL WEEK 16 PREVIEWS AS WE CHECK OUT PANTHERS-FALCONS, GIANTS-VIKINGS PLUS THERE'S A PAIR OF MONDAY BOWL PREVIEWS TOO, (THAT'S PITT AT NAVY IN THE MILITARY BOWL AND CENTRAL MICHIGAN VS. MINNESOTA IN THE QUICK LANE BOWL)
Hope you got everything you were looking for this holiday season - we know a few NFL teams that would like to clinch a playoff berth this Sunday/Monday but don't expect anyone to gift-wrap 'em any goodies.
In the league where they play for pay, you gotta "earn it" when it comes to getting into the post-season ... so, are you listening out there in Washington and Kansas City and Pittsburgh and even in New Jersey (see the NY Jets)? Good!
Now, let's get you a couple more NFL Week 16 game previews - in case you missed it we brought you New England at the J-E-T-S and Green Bay at Arizona in our December 25th Jim Sez (see archives) - and remember we'll get you the monster Monday Night Football showdown between the Cincinnati Bengals at the Denver Broncos in our next Jim Sez:
On Sunday, it's ...
CAROLINA (14-0) at ATLANTA (7-7) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
B.Y.O.B. doesn't mean Bring Your Own Bats here, so the unbeaten Carolina Panthers should leave the hardwood at home and just pack their ill feelings and look to stay perfect with this game inside the Georgia Dome.
Hey, QB Cam Newton and Company just pounded the Falcons 38-0 back in a Week 14 meeting and now we'll see what bad-boy CB Josh Norman - fined but not suspended for his actions against New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. last weekend - does when facing off with Pro Bowl-bound WR Julio Jones (NFL-best 118 receptions this year).
One X-factor to eyeball in this NFC South affair is how does Atlanta's LBs/DBs go about their business here against Newton who completed 15-of-21 passes for 265 yards and 3 TDs in that above-mentioned meeting a couple of weeks back: Do they send more blitzes or is someone gonna "spy" the MVP-to-be signal-caller? Or will it even matter? Stay tuned.
Spread Notes - Carolina is an electric 10-4 ATS (against the spread) this season and note the Panthers are a collective 14-8 vig-wise in NFC South games since the start of the 2012 season. Check out Atlanta's 5-9 spread log this year that includes a season-starting four-game ATS winning streak followed by a nine-game spread losing skid. Note the Panthers have covered six of their last seven head-to-head showdowns against the Falcons.
On Sunday Night, it's ...
NEW YORK GIANTS (6-8) at MINNESOTA (9-5) - 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Now that the whole ugly Beckham matter has been resolved by the league honchos - and the NFL finally gets a high grade for making the Giants' wide out sit here - it's time for the business at hand but the reality is Tom Coughlin's crew won't know until Saturday's Washington at Philadelphia is finished whether his NYG team has a playoff shot or not. If the Eagles won, then the G-men are indeed alive going into this prime-time affair but a 'Skins win in Philly means the Giants' season is kaput.
On the flip side, Minnesota's still itching to win the NFC North - the Vikings will be interested in that Green Bay-Arizona tilt that kicks at 4:25 p.m. ET - but major question here is the health and well-being of RB Adrian Peterson (see sprained left ankle suffered in last week's 38-17 walkover win against Chicago) and do keep in mind the porous Giants defense is allowing enemy rushers nearly six yards a pop these last two weeks of play.
The Vikes are getting a bit healthier on "D" too where it's expected LB Anthony Barr, S Harrison Smith and DT Linval Joseph all will be back.
Spread Notes - Minnesota has covered 11-of-14 games so far in this 2015 season but did you know the Vikings are 10-5 against the odds at home under second-year boss Mike Zimmer? On the flip side, the Giants are 8-5-1 against the odds overall this year and this NFC East crew is 4-1-1 ATS as dogs after going a composite 6-12 ATS as pups in 2013-14.
Get all the College Football Bowl Games continuing plus all the NFL Week 16 games too when you check with us here at Jim Hurley's Network. And, of course, make sure you're all aboard for the NBA and NCAA Basketball daily/nightly winners all this week/weekend action either here online or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.
THE COLLEGE BOWL REPORT
Here's a look at the two College Bowl Games on tap for Monday, December 28th:
MILITARY BOWL - at Annapolis, MD
PITTSBURGH (8-4) at #21 NAVY (10-2) - 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
So, what does one do for an encore after beating arch-nemesis Army four years in a row?
If you're Navy QB Keenan Reynolds, you try to put the proverbial cherry on top with a third straight bowl win ... and if Reynolds scores two TDs here he becomes the all-time FBS leader with 87 touchdowns.
No doubt first-year Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi - a defensive stickler if there ever was one - is saying "not on my watch" and the Panthers will look towards star WR Tyler Boyd (an ACC-best 85 catches for 873 yards and 6 TDs) to counteract Reynolds here. The Pitt kids hit the skids after a nifty 6-1 SU (straight-up) start and now comes the extra challenge of having to win a bowl game on the road.
Current Line: Navy (- 3) and 53.5 points
Spread Notes - Navy is a rock-solid 8-4 ATS overall this year and take note the Middies have covered six of their last nine bowls while dating back to 2005. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is a dead-even but vig-losing 6-6 against the Las Vegas price tags this season and the Panthers are just 3-4 ATS in bowls the past seven years.
QUICK LANE BOWL - at Detroit, MI
CENTRAL MICHIGAN (7-5) vs. MINNESOTA (5-7) - 5 p.m. ET, espn2
We don't wish to be "naming names" but the three FBS teams to have recorded lowly 5-7 SU seasons and yet still be granted a bowl game are San Jose State, Nebraska and ... Minnesota. Funny thing about these Golden Gophers is that half of their games this season were decided by 6 points or less and you could make the case that this one will be destined for a tight fit considering QB Mitch Leidner (2,478 yards passing with 13 TDs and 10 INTs) often comes up small once inside the red zone while underdog Central Michigan has the game's more dynamic slinger here with junior Cooper Rush fresh off a 3,703-yard, 25-TD season. Rush really likes to get everyone into the act - five receivers caught 33-or-more passes for these Chippewas - and did you know CMU covered five-of-six games played against fellow bowl teams this year?
Current Line: Minnesota (- 6) and 49 points
Spread Notes - Minnesota's just 6-6 against the odds this year but note that includes a hearty 4-1 ATS log under new coach Tracy Claeys. The Golden Gophers, however, have dropped four of their last five bowl spread verdicts since the 2008 season. Central Michigan is 8-3-1 spreadwise this season and that includes covers against Power 5 teams Oklahoma State, Syracuse and national semifinalist Michigan State. The CMU Chippewas also own a 4-1-1 spread mark in bowls since the Brian Kelly days (see 2006).
NOTE: More Bowl Games - we'll have the Four (4) Bowls on Tuesday and the Four (4) Wednesday bowls previewed before we get you a comprehensive look at the national semifinals games on New Year's Eve -- and NFL Week 16 action right here in the next edition of Jim Sez.