Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, January 8, 2018 at 11:59 AM
Network Sweeps All 4 Wild Card Games!!!
THE JIM SEZ REPORT -
TONIGHT'S COLLEGE FOOTBALL NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PREVIEW
PLUS, ALL HAIL THE NFL WILD CARD WINNERS!
Funny how the College Football Playoffs have worked in its first four years of existence:
We have not had a #1 seed win it all - nor will we this evening when #3 Georgia battles #4 Alabama - but we sure have seen lots and lots of points.
Check out what's happened in the first three editions of the College Football National Championship Game:
|2014||#4 Ohio State||+ 5.5||#2 Oregon||42-20|
|2015||#2 Alabama||- 6.5||#1 Clemson||45-40|
|2016||#2 Clemson||+ 6.5||#1 Alabama||35-31|
Ahh, so all three previous Championship Games have been covered by the underdog with a pair of them outright winners - and all three games flew over the totals prices too.
So, will history repeat itself with a Georgia cover and/or outright winner and another high-scoring tilt (right now Alabama is favored by 3.5 and 44 points)?
Well, now hear this ...
Jim Hurley's Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will get you the Side & Totals plays on tonight's College Football National Championship Game between Georgia versus Alabama when you check in with us this afternoon right here online or 1-800-323-4453 and cash in big. Plus - of course -- there's NFL Divisional Round Playoff games straight ahead this weekend (two games on Saturday, two more on Sunday) and also get all the daily/nightly College Basketball and NBA action too as the hardcourt action really heats up. Get 2018 rollin' with nothing but Jim Hurley winners!
COLLEGE FOOTBALL NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PREVIEW
ALABAMA (12-1) vs. GEORGIA (13-1) - at Atlanta, GA; 8:10 p.m. ET, ESPN
Okay, so not gonna argue with anyone that claims the 'Bama Crimson Tide has a "been-there, done-that" attitude when it comes to this title tilt: After all, the team from Tuscaloosa is shooting for its fifth national championship in nine years and they know all about beating a fellow Southeastern Conference crew in the sport's ultimate game (see Alabama 21, LSU 0 in the 2011 finale). And - yes -- we're well away of the fact that Alabama's iconic head coach Nick Saban is 11-0 SU (straight-up) lifetime against former assistant coaches and we believe it's "baked" into this Las Vegas line that Saban's worth a couple of points over Georgia boss-man Kirby Smart.
Still, this one doesn't have a slam-dunk feel to it for Alabama faithful:
Georgia zooms into this clash off last week's thrilling 54-48 2-OT win against 2.5-point underdog Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl - a game that saw Dawg RBs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel combine for an eye-popping 326 yards rushing and 5 TDs. The question we have is can this at-times sluggish 'Bama defense play with that chip-on-the-shoulder nature again here after whipping 3.5-point pup Clemson 24-6 in last week's snore-fest Sugar Bowl?
On the flip side, this might well be the big game where Alabama QB Jalen Hurts (17 TDs passing / 1 INT this year) has to "win" a game with his arm and not just his legs. Hurts threw for a modest 120 yards and rushed for another 40 yards last Monday versus Clemson - he was good but not great and this may require a great game to beat a Georgia team that battened down the hatches after halftime last week after allowing Oklahoma QB/Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield to tear Smart's defense to shreds in the game's opening 30 minutes of play.
Two X-factors to watch this evening inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium:
Will Georgia's frosh QB Jake Fromm (2,383 yards passing with 23 TDs and 5 INTs) pick up those late-showing 'Bama blitzes or is he destined to get sacked a half-dozen times (or more) here?
And will Georgia's ace kicking game starring long-range PK Rodrigo Blankenship (key late first-half FG last week against Oklahoma) have a distinct advantage here?
No need to hear those "SEC, SEC" chants. Everyone knows the best conference in the land is about ready to win its ninth title in 12 years - but will pupil beat mentor here and make this a night like no other?
Spread Notes - Alabama is 6-7 ATS (against the spread) overall this year and a collective 8-5 versus the vig in bowl/playoff games under Saban; Georgia is 10-4 against the odds overall this year and the Dawgs are an ugly 6-12 spreadwise as underdogs the past eight years.
THE NFL'S WILD CARD WINNERS
Let's zoom 'round the league for some re-caps on the just-completed Wild Card Weekend - here's to the winners: and that includes Jim Hurley who got the cover in all 4 games!
On Saturday, it was ...
TENNESSEE 22, KANSAS CITY 21 - Go right ahead and lambast coach Andy Reid and the KC Chiefs for losing yet another home playoff game but the fact of the matter is the dogged Titans - down 21-3 at halftime - really took notes from a late first-half sideline lecture from defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. The Tennessee defense threw a second-half shutout and the Titans' QB Marcus Mariota and a fierce O-line took command in this outright win for the 8.5-point road dogs. Mariota's catch-his-own-TD pass was a highlight for a Tennessee team that had not won a playoff game in 14 years but his 22-yard right-on-the-target TD strike to WR Eric Decker was sensational stuff - and how tough is RB Derrick Henry (see 156 yards and 1 TD)? Geez!
Next Up for Tennessee - The Titans are at 13.5-point favorite New England on Saturday night
ATLANTA 26, LOS ANGELES RAMS 13 - Ain't gonna be so easy to kick the defending NFC champs to the proverbial curb, eh? The Falcons - one of the most inconsistent teams in the NFL this 2017 season - played with a purpose in this wild card round win but it helped that Rams special team star Pharoh Cooper was a bumbling fool in this tilt and somebody get "missing persons" on the lookout for LA wide receiver Sammy Watkins (one catch for 23 yards). Truth is the Rams didn't distinguish themselves in their first home playoff game in more than two decades but Atlanta's sure tackling was a key (hats off to NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth for pointing it out early/often) and the QB Matt Ryan-to-WR Julio Jones pass/catch combo (good for nine completions worth 94 yards and one balloon-like TD lob) came alive on a night when everyone was losing their footing at a sloppy Coliseum.
Next Up for Atlanta - The Falcons are at 2.5-point pup Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon
On Sunday, it was ...
JACKSONVILLE 10, BUFFALO 3 - Let's not hear any "winning ugly" talk here: The Jaguars - back in the post-season for the first time in 10 years - played their usual game and that means smothering defense, great cover corner play and just enough offense although who knew that the real key to victory would be QB Blake Bortles lumbering his way to a game-high 88 yards rushing? Bortles made a handful of big runs against a Bills' defense that clamped down on rookie RB Leonard Fournette (just 57 rushing yards on 21 carries) and otherwise jammed Jacksonville's wide receivers but the Bills blew it by not scoring a first-half TD after getting to first-and-goal from the one-yard line (awful play-calling and even worse execution) - and if we would have told Buffalo that gimpy RB LeSean McCoy would wind up with 119 scrimmage yards than the 8.5-point dogs would have signed on the dotted line!
Next Up for Jacksonville - The Jaguars are at Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon
NEW ORLEANS 31, CAROLINA 26 - Outside the fact this made it 4-and-oh for the NFL Wild Card Round underdogs (hope you all cashed in with Jim Hurley!!!), the biggest headlines comin' from this game in the "Big Easy" was that Saints' All-Pro DE Cameron Jordan was too fast for any Carolina blockers in the game's closing moments and the Panthers simply didn't get enough points from four separate trips inside the N'Orleans 25-yard line. No question that Carolina QB Can Newton (349 yards passing and 37 yards rushing) showed major toughness/grit here but he surely got rattled by Jordan and Company late when an intentional grounding penalty really snuffed out any Panthers hope of stealing this one in outright fashion. New Orleans QB Drew Brees barbecued the Panthers' secondary with some deep chucks - including the 80-yard catch-and-run by Ted Ginn that broke open the scoring seal - as what was once a strength for Carolina ain't no more.
Next Up for New Orleans - The Saints are at Minnesota on Sunday
NOTE: Get our College Football National Championship Game re-cap in the next edition of Jim Sez and make sure you get tonight's Georgia vs. Alabama winner at www.jimhurley.com or at the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.