Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, November 27, 2017 at 11:16 AM
THE NFL WEEK 12 UPDATE: WE HIT THE REWIND BUTTON ON STEELERS' LAST-SECOND WIN AND MUCH MORE PLUS IT'S A TEXANS-RAVENS MNF PREVIEW TOO ...
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT: THE BURNING QUESTION IS - OKAY, SO NOW WHAT? ...
Check it out: Jim Hurley's Annual Thanksgiving Turkey Shoot was busy piling up the profits this past weekend:
Our Blue Ribbon line banged out NFL Week 12 winners with the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams;
Both Cincinnati and Buffalo prevailed as Jim cashed two-of-three wins on his Hotline - the lone loser was Denver which saw QB Paxton Lynch leave with an injury;
And the above-mentioned Rams - a 26-20 winner against 2.5-point pup New Orleans - was the Favorite of the Week with a rock-solid win/cover.
Let's just say that the Pittsburgh Steelers enjoyed the end of their holiday weekend a whole lot more than Oakland Raiders WR Michael Crabtree and Denver Broncos' CB Aqib Talib!
The Steelers (9-2) have not always been a model of consistency this year despite the stupendous won/loss record, but they dashed down the field on a four-play, 35-yard mini-drive before PK Chris Boswell banged home a Heinz Field-tying 53-yard field goal to propel the 2-TD favorites over the Packers in the best NFL Week 12 game of the day (and there were some real snoozers on the card!).
Okay, so no question the Steelers were aided-and-abetted by one of the worst coaching moves of the year as Green Bay's oft-clueless head coach Mike McCarthy opted to have PK Mason Crosby attempt a 57-yard FG in the third quarter with Green Bay ahead 21-14. The kick missed badly and Pittsburgh took command on a "short field" and tied up the game moments later on the first of two TDs by do-everything WR Antonio Brown (10 catches for 169 yards and the two scores).
McCarthey should be kicking himself all week long - consider that he received a brilliantly played game from QB Brett Hundley (see 245 yards passing with 3 TDs and 0 INTs) and his LB Clay Matthews-less defense hung in there against Brown, QB Ben Roethlisberger (351 passing yards and 4 TDs) and RB Le'Veon Bell (95 yards rushing / 88 yards receiving) as best as they could.
If the Packers want to curse the multi-week collarbone injury of QB Aaron Rodgers, then go right ahead but Green Bay's veteran head coach sure didn't help on this night.
And while the Steelers were - technically - climbing ahead of the 9-and-2 New England Patriots in the race for the #1 seed in the AFC (yes, they play one another in Week 15) there was utter mayhem taking place in Oakland just hours earlier where the chain-snatching Talib and the fist-throwing Crabtree were (again) acting like total buffoons. Good thing Oakland head coach Jack Del Rio castigated his players that were ejected for the all-out brawl in Broncos-Raiders Part II - but did Crabtree and Company have to be reminded that getting ejected in the first quarter of a key game was pretty dumb?
Finally, what also turned out to be pretty dumb in NFL Week 12 action on Sunday was the idea that underdogs would enjoy a big day ... ha!
As it turned out, NFL Week 12 Betting Favorites cashed out with a healthy 9-3 ATS (against the spread) mark on this Sunday-after-Thanksgiving sked with only Buffalo (a 16-10 win at 9-point fav Kansas City) and Arizona (a 27-24 last-second winner against 6.5-point favorite Jacksonville) snagging outright upset wins.
In case you're wondering, NFL Betting Favorites for the year now stand at 89-78-7 with one Pick 'Em game and go back these past four weeks and you will see that Favs are a sizzling 36-15-4 ATS (that's a .706 winning rate for chalk sides!) ... maybe the cream is indeed rising to the top!
Jim Hurley's Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will put a big exclamation point on the Annual Thanksgiving Turkey Shoot with tonight's Sides & Totals winners of the Monday Night Football game between the Houston Texans at the Baltimore Ravens -- just check in with us here online or 1-800-323-4453 and remember there's NBA and College Hoops winners too as we wrap up another great holiday bash!
On Monday Night Football, it's ...HOUSTON (4-6) at BALTIMORE (5-5) - 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Let's get right to the chase: The host Ravens are in a mad scramble for one of the AFC's wild card berths - ain't catching those Steelers! - and they charge into this tilt having won 11-of-12 prime-time games under 10th-year head coach John Harbaugh plus they get to face a backup quarterback for the second straight week after squashing the aforementioned Hundley 23-0 at Lambeau Field last Sunday.
Still, Baltimore ranks dead last in the league in passing and here Ravens' QB Joe Flacco will try to hit some deep balls against a Houston defense that ranks 26th in the NFL in pass defense - if the Texans can get some "B gap" pressure against Flacco, then this could be a long night for the home folks in front of their "Blackout" crowd.
Spread Stats - Baltimore is 5-4-1 against the odds overall this season but note the Ravens are 7-16-4 versus the vig in non-divisional games the past two-plus seasons. Houston's 6-4 ATS this year and collective 11-16 ATS as point-grabbers since the start of the 2015 season.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT
Hey, College Football smart guys/gals, you asked for it! The College Football Playoffs were meant to be a nice four-team party intended for unbeaten or even one-loss teams to decide a championship - we always thought they wanted conference champions represented but then last year found out that wasn't the case - and now it's utter chaos on the eve of the final weekend of play.
So, now what?
Here's our take ...Despite last week's 26-14 loss at Auburn, previously #1-ranked Alabama deserves any/all benefits of the doubt because the Crimson Tide's "body of work" for the entire 2017 season still is more impressive than that of the other teams fighting it out.
In short, the Clemson vs. Miami winner in Saturday's ACC Championship gets in; the loser is out;
If Oklahoma happens to lose to TCU in the Big 12 Championship Game, then the Big 12 gets nobody in the playoffs;
If Ohio State tops unbeaten Wisconsin in the Big 10 Championship Game, then the Buckeyes get in only if it's a decisive triumph, otherwise we're taking 'Bama over the Buckeyes.
In short, the whole thing is a mess which - when you really think about it - is appropriate because college football never has fielded a "perfect system" for crowning their champion and if, let's say, Miami, Oklahoma, two-loss Ohio State and two-loss Auburn get into the playoffs and Alabama does not, then you might be leaving out the best team in the land from your little post-season party.
If you're "neutral", then root for Wisconsin!
NOTE: More NFL News & Notes in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez.