Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, December 24, 2017 at 6:00 PM
WE KNOW YOU'VE BEEN GOOD AND SO SANTA HAS STACKED UP ALL YOUR PRESENTS - WE'VE GOT THE NBA ON CHRISTMAS DAY, PLUS MONDAY NFL & TUESDAY BOWLS TOO!
It's time to unwrap your presents on this Christmas Day and we've got gridiron goodies to go along with the NBA and so let's get started on the hardwood:
Hey, what would Christmas Day be without a major serving of NBA games and here's some quick-hitter comments as you share this wonderful holiday with family and friends:
NBA ON CHRISTMAS DAY
PHILADELPHIA (14-18) at NEW YORK (17-15) - 12:05 p.m. ET, ESPN
If Knicks mega-star Kristaps Porzingis goes 1-for-11 from the floor (as he did in his last home game against Boston last Thursday evening) then New York may need 40 points from F Michael Beasley to win here!
CLEVELAND (24-9) at GOLDEN STATE (26-7) - 3 p.m. ET, ABC
Annual holiday showdown between the last three NBA champions won't have the usual sizzle what with G-State's Stephen Curry out (ankle) but something tells us Cavs' do-it-all man LeBron James may be ultimate stat-sheet stuffer ... do you really expect anything but a wire job finish here with either James or Warriors' mega-star Kevin Durant hitting a last-second shot?
WASHINGTON (18-15) at BOSTON (27-9) - 5:30 p.m. ET, ABC
No doubt the new-look Celtics have stolen most of this year's NBA headlines as G Kyrie Irving (24.9 ppg) is piling up early-season MVP votes but the Wizards are always dangerous as underdogs and, hey, wasn't PG John Wall great on those commercials leading up to this big day?
HOUSTON (25-6) at OKLAHOMA CITY (18-15) - 8 p.m. ET, ABC
Here's hoping those brilliant NBA refs don't eject Rockets' megastar James Harden (see recent back-to-back 50-plus point games) from this prime-time dandy as the bearded one returns to the site of his original NBA greatness. Okay, so this three-headed monster on the Thunder hasn't been working but maybe Russell Westbrook/Paul George/Carmelo Anthony gets heated up on Xmas Night.
MINNESOTA (20-13) at LOS ANGELES LAKERS (11-20) - 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT
Folks have been waiting for this Timberwolves team to bust out of their shell and maybe this is the year - Karl-Anthony Towns has no equal in the post here but gotta say Lakers' rookie Kyle Kuzma is simply terrific - yes, he's been the best rookie on this LA attack.
Jim Hurley's Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have all the NBA Christmas Day/Night games plus more NFL Week 16 Winners (that's Pittsburgh at Houston and then Oakland at Philadelphia on Monday) - and don't forget the slew of College Football Bowl games roll on with multiple games every day/night this week, so check with us here at www.jimhurley.com or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453. Folks, there's still time to sign up for the discounted Bowl Package with Jim Hurley. Plus, get all the daily/nightly College Basketball too!
NFL WEEK 16
On Monday, it's ...
PITTSBURGH (11-3) at HOUSTON (4-10) - 4:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Last year's last-second Christmas Night win by the Steelers against Baltimore was epic stuff - but no WR Antonio Brown here and you could see Texans' pass-rush whiz Jadeveon Clowney give Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger a really hard time. Is this 9-point road price a bit bloated? Check with us and we'll let you know at Jim Hurley's Network.
Spread Notes - Pittsburgh has failed to cover five of its six post-bye games since early November; Houston is 5-11 ATS (against the spread) in all home games since the start of the 2016 season.
OAKLAND (6-8) at PHILADELPHIA (12-2) - 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Eagles didn't get any help from Minnesota this past Saturday night (see Vikings 16, Green Bay Packers 0) and so Philly must win here if it wants to clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC Playoffs and QB Nick Foles (four TD strikes in last week's non-cover win at the New York Giants) is licking his chops because this Oakland secondary is hurtin'.
Spread Notes - Philadelphia is 10-4 against the odds this season and did you know the Eagles are 11-3 spreadwise at home the past year-and-change? Oakland is just 2-4-1 vig-wise as point-grabbers this year.
COLLEGE BOWL BONANZA
On Tuesday, Dec. 26th it's ...
HEART OF DALLAS BOWL - at Dallas, TX
UTAH (6-6) vs. WEST VIRGINIA (7-5) - 1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
No QB Will Grier (34 TD passes this year) here for the WVU Mountaineers and so that's one major reason why Utah is a solid TD betting favorite for this clash in the Lone Star State - expect the Utes' RB Zack Moss to get his hands on the ball 25-or-so times behind a blocking all that averages better than 310 pounds per man.
Spread Stats - West Virginia is a rotten 1-8 ATS as an underdog the past three years; Utah is 7-3-2 versus the vig overall this year and a collective 11-3-1 ATS when playing outside the Pac-12 the past four years.
QUICKEN LANE BOWL - at Detroit, MI
NORTHERN ILLINOIS (8-4) vs. DUKE (6-6) - 5:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
For bowl critics, here's a fact: The Duke Blue Devils lost six games in a row at one point this year and still made it to the post-season bowl party - now if the 5.5-point favored Blue Devils are gonna deliver a second win at bowl time in the past three years than blocking Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year Sutton Smith (14 sacks) is key. Note that the Dookies need QB Daniel Jones (12 TDs / 11 INTs) to steer clear of red-zone silly stuff.
Spread Stats - Duke is 63-46-6 ATS under 10th-year head coach David Cutcliffe (a solid .578 winning rate); Northern Illinois has failed to cover its last four consecutive post-season bowl games.
CACTUS BOWL - at Phoenix, AZ
KANSAS STATE (7-5) vs. UCLA (6-6) - 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
It's official: No QB Josh Rosen for the UCLA Bruins here and so thus the wild pointspread swing as Kansas State jumped from a 2.5-point betting favorite to a 6- or 6.5-point betting choice. Too bad 'cause Rosen had a hot finish for the Pac-12 team that is looking for its first bowl since 2014. Note that K-State is down to its third-string quarterback but Skylar Thompson has the goods - he had a three-TD showing against Oklahoma State and plays with a real edge.
Spread Stats - Kansas State has failed to cover five of its last seven bowl games since 2010; UCLA's an ugly 3-9 spreadwise in its last dozen away games.
NOTE: More College Bowl coverage in the next edition of Jim Sez.