Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, January 4, 2016 at 9:36 AM
IT'S THE FIRST LOOK AT THIS YEAR'S NFL PLAYOFFS AS WE CHECK OUT THIS WEEKEND'S WILD CARD GAMES IN HOUSTON, CINCINNATI, MINNESOTA AND D.C.
PLUS IT'S A QUICKIE LOOK AHEAD TO #1 CLEMSON VS. #2 ALABAMA AND OUR COLLEGE BOWL BREAKDOWN CHART!
Hey, mind if we take you on a little stroll down NFL Wild Card "memory lane"?
You might recall that none of last year's Wild Card Round teams made it to the Super Bowl although we doffed our cap to the 2014 Indianapolis Colts who did survive-and-advance to the AFC Championship Game being getting "deflated" by the eventual champion New England Patriots.
The point is it ain't easy winning three playoff rounds in order to make it to Super Sunday although - if you listened closely last night to NBC studio analyst Tony Dungy you got the distinct impression he believes either the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Kansas City Chiefs could make it to the "promised land" this year starting from the Wild Card Round ... we shall see.
The bottom line is - after 256 regular-season games were played with the NFL Betting Favorites going 111-128-11 (with 6 pick 'ems) - this here-and-now Wild Card Round just may be a handicapper's delight if you've really been paying attention as we have here at The Jim Hurley Network.
We smoked the books in NFL Week 17 play with a batch of winners including Minnesota's 20-13 win at 3-point favorite Green Bay on Sunday Night past, plus we delivered with Detroit (- 2.5) over Chicago 24-20 and with frisky San Diego (+10) getting the cover in the 27-20 SU (straight-up) loss in Denver ... and you know we whipped the oddsmakers in the recent College Bowls with an easy Orange Bowl winner with Clemson (+3.5) over Oklahoma 37-17 and "under" in the Sugar Bowl where Alabama roasted Michigan State 38-0 while we went under 46 points - two college playoff winners there and lots of NFL playoff winners straight ahead.
Get the Side & Totals of this weekend's NFL Wild Card Round games when you check with us here on game-day mornings 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 either here online or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453. Plus, the College Football National Championship Game is set -- #1 Clemson versus #2 Alabama on Monday, January 11th from Glendale ... and we're ready to put a capper on what's been a great post-season with Side & Totals winners here!
NFL WILD CARD GAMES
On Saturday, it's the AFC in action with ...
#5 KANSAS CITY (11-5) at #4 HOUSTON (9-7) - 4:35 p.m. ET, ABC
You've likely noticed already that there are three NFL Wild Card Round games where the road team is the favorite and this - surprise, surprise - is one of 'em as Andy Reid's three-point favored KC Chiefs rock-n-roll their way into post-season play on a 10-game SU winning streak but is there a little new problem to worry about after Kansas City QB Alex Smith tossed two INTs in the regular-season-ending 23-17 non-cover win against Oakland? Hey, Houston's defense starring DE J.J. Watt has held its last three foes to 10, 6 and 6 points and it's gotta be a good thing that Texans' QB Brian Hoyer (249 yards passing with one TD in Sunday's 30-6 win against Jacksonville) is back in the saddle after missing the previous two games.
#6 PITTSBURGH (10-6) at #3 CINCINNATI (12-4) - 8:15 p.m. ET, CBS
Everyone's gonna be paying very close attention to the injury update surrounding Cincinnati QB Andy Dalton but - ask us - and we don't think there's really any way he plays with that broken thumb in this post-season tilt and so no shocker that the Steelers have been installed as 2.5-point betting favorites. Remember that Dalton injured that right thumb in the 33-20 home loss to Pittsburgh back in Week 14 action but we remind you that the Bengals were only a 1-point fav for that contest and so maybe the "jig is up" for Marvin Lewis' crew that is hoping not to lose a fifth consecutive playoff game in five years. On the flip side, the Steelers may have that dynamite offense but now RB DeAngelo Williams (ankle) is hurt and QB Ben Roethlisberger did airmail two picks in Sunday's ugly 28-12 win/cover at Cleveland.
On Sunday, it's the NFC in action with ...
#6 SEATTLE (10-6) at #3 MINNESOTA (11-5) - 1:05 p.m. ET, NBC
You got it ... another road favorite as the early-bird line has the two-time defending NFC champion Seahawks listed as 3.5-point favs and keep in mind Pete Carroll's club has won/covered six of their last seven games and that includes the rousing 38-7 win at Minnesota back in Week 13 play. Still, it's really interesting to find out whether oft-injured RB Marshawn Lynch will be a central character in this matinee game or will QB Russell Wilson (3 TDs and 0 INTs in the 36-6 beat-down of Arizona this past weekend) have to be a one-man wrecking crew for the Seattle attack? Minnesota is keeping fingers crossed that star RB Adrian Peterson just had back spasms and nothing more serious in that aforementioned prime-time game at Lambeau Field. Spread Note folks remember the Vikings are 13-3 ATS (against the spread) this year.
#5 GREEN BAY (10-6) at #4 WASHINGTON (9-7) - 4:40 p.m. ET, Fox
The Las Vegas number-crunchers posted the 'Skins as 1-point favorites here (some locales had it as pick 'em) but in any event this would've been the sure-thing home underdog a few weeks ago but now Jay Gruden's club is playing for keeps (see four in a row SU/ATS) and QB Kirk Cousins (3 first-half TDs in Dallas in 34-23 win) while the pendulum is swinging the wrong way for the Packers who no longer sport a deep passing game and can't count on getting any solid pass protection for QB Aaron Rodgers who's getting sacked left-and-right these days. Maybe Green Bay - once-upon-a-time 6-and-oh - can right its ship with a change in rhythm. Gotta think Mike McCarthy's team will go up-tempo here and allow Mr. Rodgers to step up and throw quickly against this fierce Washington pass rush. Agree?
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT
Yeah, yeah. We're getting the matchup in next Monday night's National Championship Game that we "should" be getting with #1 versus #2 but - we must ask - why is #1 Clemson getting zero respect in the Las Vegas line with 'Bama the current 7-point betting favorite? No doubt - and we thought this to be true all along - "they" had the wrong team favored in that above-mentioned Orange Bowl game where Clemson bashed Oklahoma by 20 points and anyone that watched the college game this year should know Clemson is about as complete as any team we've seen on the national stage in the past handful of years.
Okay, so Alabama blistered a helpless Michigan State team on New Year's Eve - Sparty QB Connor Cook was in way over his head there plus the Big 10 team really cracked mentally when it realized the ground game was going nowhere fast ... but to think Clemson is gonna have a meltdown of that order come the night of January 11th, well, we highly doubt it!
There's gonna be lots to say about this great matchup for all the marbles and so stick with us here at Jim Sez and get the Side/Totals winners on game-day at 1-800-323-4453 or right here online.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL CHART
Now, here's a look at the College Football Bowl Conference-by-Conference Pointspread Breakdown Chart as we head into next Monday's Championship Game between #1 Clemson vs. #2 Alabama (and remember we'll have an in-depth preview of that title tilt in this weekend's edition of Jim Sez):
Okay, so no surprise that the SEC ruled the roost with identical 8-2 SU (straight-up) and 8-2 ATS (against the spread) records but how about the fact the SEC West registered a rollicking 6-1 ATS mark in these bowls ... wow!
Overall, the Power 5 conferences - the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC - combined to go just 24-22 against the odds (a .522 winning rate) and if you consider Independents Notre Dame and BYU as "power teams" than the reality is the sport's true muckety-mucks finished the bowls at 24-24 ATS overall.
And shame on the ACC and Big 12 - they combined to go 5-11 versus the vig in the bowl games.
Shout-out to the Mountain West Conference - the MWC finished 5-3 spreadwise in the bowls with New Mexico, San Jose State, Boise State, San Diego State and Nevada all delivering pointspread "W"s" to this oft-overlooked league.
Finally, College Football Bowl Betting Favorites went 25-15 ATS (a solid .625 winning rate) and - strange but true - the "Over" players also cranked out a 25-15 ATS mark when it came to totals plays.
NOTE: Lots of NFL Wild Card talk in the next edition of Jim Sez.