Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, December 4, 2017 at 11:42 AM
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS: DID THEY GET IT RIGHT? ...
NFL WEEK 13 IN REVIEW PLUS, THE MONDAY NIGHT PREVIEW AS STEELERS-BENGALS CLASH IN "THE JUNGLE"
Okay, so that noise that you're hearing is us clapping our hands together for the College Football Playoff committee folks ... gentlemen, you done good!
The rumblings all around the sport late Saturday night and into Sunday morning suggested that the Ohio State Buckeyes - the Big 10 Championship Game winner over Wisconsin on Saturday night - was gonna fill that last slot in the playoff's four-team field behind #1 Clemson, #2 Oklahoma and #3 Georgia but instead the committee folks threw the nation at large a curveball and bypassed the Bucks (11-2) for a one-loss Alabama team and we say "three cheers" to that.
Hey, the only loss on the 'Bama sked was a 26-14 setback at Auburn two weekends back - hardly an embarrassing result even though the Crimson Tide was a 5-point road betting favorite for that Iron Bowl game.
Still, contrast that to Ohio State's two losses - a 31-16 home defeat at the hands of 7.5-point underdog Oklahoma way back on Sept. 9th and then the real bugaboo - a 55-24 loss at three-TD underdog Iowa on Nov. 4th. A killer.
If anyone out there believed the Buckeyes' hang-on-for-dear-life 27-21 win against Wisconsin the other night in the Big 10 Championship Game "cancelled out" that 31-point loss in Iowa City we say boo-hoo!
Gotta say we're so happy that a two-loss team - whether it be Ohio State or USC - wasn't allowed into the "final four" because, in our Jim Sez humble opinion, losses have to "count for something" instead of hearing pro-Ohio State folks ramble on about having wins against top 10 teams such as Penn State and Wisky ... you lost TWICE and Alabama lost just once and that was at a legit on-the-rise team in Auburn.
So, congrats on the committee - they have to keep the regular season meaning something or else college football is gonna go the way of every other sport where regular-season games have been devalued.
Advice to future College Football Playoff wannabe squads ... Don't Lose more than once in a 12- or 13-game season, or else!
As far as the New Year's Day matchups - it's #2 Oklahoma vs. #3 Georgia in the Rose Bowl followed by #1 Clemson vs. #4 Alabama in the evening's Sugar Bowl - you see just how competitive these games should be as Oklahoma is a 1.5-point betting favorite at the moment in the Rose Bowl while Alabama is a somewhat surprising 1.5-point betting fav over defending champ Clemson in the Sugar Bowl. Can't wait!
Jim Hurley's Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have the winner of tonight's Monday Night Football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Cincinnati Bengals when you check in today either online or at 1-800-323-4453. And there's lots of NBA winners and College Basketball winners on tap as well every night of the week plus the annual Army-Navy football game on Saturday before we hit the blizzard of bowl games, so make sure you're all aboard!
NFL WEEK 13 IN REVIEW / PLUS MNF
Tonight, it's ...PITTSBURGH (9-2) at CINCINNATI (5-6) -- 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Gotta go all the way back to Oct. 8th to find the last time the Pittsburgh Steelers lost a football game (see Jacksonville 30, Pittsburgh 9) and it only seems like years since the Steelers last lost to archrival Cincinnati - it actually did happen back in 2015.
The Steelers roar into the Queen City on a six-game SU (straight-up) winning streak overall with five consecutive SU wins posted against these Bengals and if Marvin Lewis' team is gonna snag the upset win here and keep a pulse going in terms of the post-season, then negating WR Antonio Brown (NFL-high 80 receptions for 1,195 yards) and/or RB Le'Veon Bell (NFL-best 981 yards rushing) is an absolute must but the Bengals also can't commit those silly/foolish penalties they always seem to make against Pittsburgh and Bengals' QB Andy Dalton needs at least a handful of downfield "chunk plays" to WR A.J. Green and friends.
Hey, do the Steelers play anything but prime-time games anymore?
Spread Stats - Pittsburgh's just 6-5 ATS (against the spread) this year but note the Steelers enter this prime-time tilt having covered 16 of their last 22 showdowns against Cincinnati dating back to 2007. The Bengals have notched spread victories in their last three consecutive games and overall note that Cincy is a solid 16-10 spreadwise as underdogs.
In other NFL Week 13 action ...
The Minnesota Vikings' sweet 14-9 win at 2-point fav Atlanta (our Hotline Game of the Month! We also won with the Giants and Seahawks for a 3-0 Sunday) featured a 227-yard, two-TD, 0-INT game from journeyman-turned-star QB Case Keenum (were they really thinking about benching him for Teddy Bridgewater a few weeks ago?) and just two catches for 24 yards for Falcons' megastar WR Julio Jones ... and you still want to know if this Vikings team is "for real". Puh-leeze! ...
The Eli Manning Saga played out in Oakland on Sunday with the QB Geno Smith-led New York Giants hanging tough in a 24-17 loss-but-cover at 9.5-point fav Oakland. Manning stayed put on the sidelines all game long and was classy in his post-game comments while Smith lost a pair of fumbles in "plus territory" but overall wasn't awful with 212 yards passing. The Giants' front office on down has botched this whole Manning benching - no question about that - but while everyone has Eli heading to Jacksonville or Denver in the off-season, may we suggest a different landing spot: Miami ...
Finally, the Seattle Seahawks' resounding 24-10 win on Sunday Night against the 3.5-point favored Philadelphia Eagles - yes, a Jim Hurley Winner on NFL Week 13 - featured a "fortunate" bounce when Philly QB Carson Wentz fumbled into and out of the end zone when he appeared to be close to a TD and there was that bogus non-call when Seattle QB Russell Wilson flipped the ball forward on that one key second-half drive but consider that the Seahawks (8-4) are rounding into typical December/January form even though "Legion of Boom" stars CB Richard Sherman and S Kam Chancellor are out for the year. Hey, the Seahawks' remaining games are at Jacksonville, home to the Los Angeles Rams, at Dallas and home to Arizona and so it ain't gonna be easy catching the Rams (9-3) for first place in the NFC West but hats off to Seahawks' head coach Pete Carroll - sometimes this snake-bitten head coach doesn't get his due based on that Super Bowl gaffe three years ago.
NOTE: More NFL goodies in the next edition of Jim Sez.