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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, January 25, 2016 at 9:48 AM



Go ahead and debate it with your pals …

Should the Carolina Panthers be a 4.5-point betting favorite over the Denver  Broncos for Super Bowl 50 two weeks hence … and should the NFC champs be leery of  being “overconfident?”

After all, as ESPN’s Chris Berman reminded one-and-all in Sunday night’s edition of  NFL Prime Time, the last time an NFL team scored in the neighborhood of “half-a-hundred” points in a  conference championship game it was the 1990 Buffalo Bills who demolished the  Oakland Raiders 51-3 – and the then 7-point favorite Bills went on to lose Super  Bowl 25 to the New York Giants 20-19.

So there!

On the other hand, the last time QB Peyton Manning led a Denver team to a Super Bowl was just two years ago – and the triumphant Seattle Seahawks laid a heavy-duty 43 points on ‘em in that wood-shed job in the Meadowlands.

And what this potential debate topic:

In this here-and-now offensive-minded NFL, does “great defense” still stop “great offense” because the Broncos’ top-rated “D” sure put on a show in  Sunday’s 20-18 AFC Championship Game home win against 3-point favorite New  England (more about that game shortly) while Carolina’s top-ranked offense did as it  pleased while scoring twin figures in three-of-four quarters in last Sunday’s 49-15 romp over the hapless 3-point underdog Arizona Cardinals?

Ask us and we get the sense the Broncos played about as well as they can play en route to that AFC title tilt win in the Mile High City against Tom Brady and the Pats …while something tells us the Panthers may be merely peaking these days after rattling off 15 regular-season wins (and eight of ‘em by double-digit margins) and then tacking together back-to-back impressive home playoff wins versus Seattle/Arizona.

Maybe the Manning mystique will get folks putting their hard-earned dough on the Broncos here as we approach SB 50 – you know lots of football fans wager with their hearts, don’t you? – and that could soften the line to 3 or 3.5 points but being strictly fair about this upcoming clash you could make the case that this has always been “Carolina’s year” what with that 14-0 start and all and so laying as high as 6 or 7 points shouldn’t be enough to scare off “in-the-know” NFL folks who want to bet the Panthers here in the big game.

Obviously, we’ll monitor the Las Vegas pointspread very closely in the coming days – note the totals price of 44.5 points caught us as a bit “shy” (we wrote down 46 as the over/under before taking a peek at the price tag) but check out this key reminder plus the NFL Championship Sunday game notes:

Jim Hurley will have the Sides & Totals Winners of Super Bowl 50 when you check
with us on game-day morning plus go ahead and continue to pile up the profits all this week with loads of NBA and NCAA Basketball winners right here  online at or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 – go ahead and pound the books today!


No doubt you could have gone a bit poor wagering on the Broncos at home this year …heading into the AFC Championship Game win against New England, note that Denver was 3-5-1 ATS (against the spread) including a pointspread “push” in the 23-16 AFC Divisional Playoff win against Pittsburgh.

However, this late January bash was a different story with the aforementioned Denver defense harassing, hurrying and blasting Brady every chance it got with the four sacks and two picks just part of the statistical story here and it was only pure justice that the Broncos didn’t allow Brady to convert the potential game-tying two-point conversion try right at the end of the game.

Kudos to Denver head coach Gary Kubiak for boosting the Broncos’ “morale” all week long but major kudos to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips who out-masterminded the Patriots while making sure to expose the N’England offensive line every opportunity he had. Consider that – irony of ironies – the Pats were forced to go for two late because ace kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed his first PAT  in 524 tries and – remember – it was Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick who  argued the hardest and longest for the 33-yard PAT after years of yawner point-afters from 20 yards away.

Pure genius?

No doubt Manning was a central figure in the post-game press conferences (his stats were modest with 176 yards passing and two TDs to TE Owen Daniels) but keep in mind he didn’t lead the Broncos to any touchdowns at all from the 13:51 mark of the second quarter right throughout the rest of the game … hmmm.


Want to really hear something scary?

The Carolina Panthers scored five offensive touchdowns versus the beleaguered Cardinals in Sunday’s one-sided affair in Charlotte; they scored three offensive TDs in that 31-24 hang-on-for-dear-life NFC Divisional Playoff win against the Seahawks. And, for good measure, do-it-all Carolina LB Luke Kuechly has registered  “pick sixes” in each of these post-season affairs – and QB Cam Newton’s only really  been “stopped” this playoff season when the Carolina coaching staff pulled in the reigns in the second half against the Seahawks.

In other words, a Carolina crew that’s scored 33-or-more points eight times in the last nine games had major mojo working with Newton now fresh off a 335-yard, two-TD passing game to go along with 47 yards rushing and another couple of scores versus the Redbirds and what’s not working for Ron Rivera’s well-rounded offense?

Nada! Or, not a thing!

Newton is the unabashed ringleader and chief distributor of post-TD football handouts to the kids but everything is clicking nicely with this Carolina attack whether it’s a way-better-than-advertised offensive line to RB Jonathan Stewart (see 19 carries for 83 effective yards against ‘Zona) to top targets TE Greg Olsen (six catches for 113 yards) and WR Corey Brown (4 catches for 113 yards and one long-distance score against Arizona) … and in Sunday’s rollover win that classy defense roughed up error-prone QB Carson Palmer (four INTs, two lost  fumbles) and hurt more than his feelings with an array of in-the-pocket hits that  jarred some fillings loose, we presume.

Are you gonna sit there and claim the Panthers are not the “most complete” team in the league? You’d be foolish to think otherwise, my friend.


Last week we spent a few moments here in a Jim Sez column questioning the direction of two “name” teams – namely Kentucky and Duke.

Well, let’s flip the script now and heap some love on the Indiana Hoosiers (17-3, 7-0 Big 10) – yes, a team that will zoom into Tuesday night’s game at Wisconsin riding a nifty 12-game winning streak that includes last Saturday’s resounding 32-point home win against 10-point underdog Northwestern (and hope you  caught that late line move that had the IU Hoosiers leap from an 8.5-point  betting fav right before game time).

Tom Crean’s club piled up 21 assists in 30 made baskets against the overmatched Wildcats and a very familiar face – point guard Yogi Ferrell was the ultimate leader with 17 points, 6 assists and just 1 turnover in 35 action-packed minutes of play.

Hey, the Hoosiers shot 30-of-57 from the floor against N’western and – the way they share the ball and move without the ball – there’s no telling what they’ll shoot if they catch up-and-down Wisconsin napping on defense here.

The bottom line is Indiana is off to its first 7-and-oh league start since the 1992-93 season and – ask us at this very moment – we’d give the Bloomington bunch no worse than a #3 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament with an ever higher seed possible/probable if Crean’s kids can win the regular-season and/or mini-tourney crown. So stay tuned.

NOTE: Lots more Super Bowl 50 News/Notes all week long plus NBA and NCAA Basketball Updates too right here at Jim Sez.

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