Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, December 17, 2018 at 12:00 AM
NFL WEEK 15 WRAPS UP WITH
TONIGHT’S SAINTS VS. PANTHERS SHOWDOWN
BUT WE’VE GOT A LOT TO SAY ABOUT SUNDAY’S ACTION TOO …
IT’S CARDINALS, RAIDERS, J-E-T-S AT THE TOP OF THE
2019 DRAFT (FOR NOW) …
COLLEGE BOWL BONANZA:
CHECK OUT OUR BOCA RATON BOWL PREVIEW
FOR TOMORROW NIGHT
Let’s get this straight …
There already have been four division leaders that lost here in NFL Week 15 play -- and we ain’t finished yet as the NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints play a biggie at the fast-fading Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football.
Really, imagine if someone told you prior to the start of Sunday’s action that New England and Dallas would combine for a grand total of 10 points – and both lose, of course – and that the 13.5-point favored Los Angeles Rams would get beaten 30-23 in Sunday Night Football by a Philadelphia Eagles team that’s gone through a gazillion different defensive backs this season. Wouldn’t have believed it, right?
Hey, we didn’t forget the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs who lost to the Los Angeles Chargers this past Thursday Night to start all this wild stuff … so much for these squads “peaking” towards the end of regular-season play as the Rams and Pats each now have lost back-to-back weekends and – no kidding – there are the Cleveland Browns (6-7-1) being listed as “in the hunt” for an AFC playoff berth with just two weekends left. SMH indeed!
Meanwhile, if you think this all means NFL Underdogs had a coming-out party in Week 15, you’d be wrong … the point-taking teams are a modest 7-6-1 ATS (against the spread) this week while heading into Saints-Panthers but the shock waves from those first-place teams getting beaten has lots of folks scratching their heads.
We’ll get to our MNF preview in one moment but first this key reminder …
Jim Hurley’s Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will be banging out lots of College Football Bowl Game winners and they’ll put the finishing touches on NFL Week 15 with the Side/Totals winners of this evening’s New Orleans Saints versus Carolina Panthers bash -- go ahead and sign up now for our Bowl Package: Call us at the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or else online right here at www.jimhurley.com. In fact, sign up now with Jim Hurley and get all of the still remaining 34 College Bowl Games this holiday season plus get all the College Basketball and NBA winners too!
Tonight, it’s …
NEW ORLEANS (11-2) at CAROLINA (6-7) – 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
It’s gonna be a real case of “getting to know you” between these rivals that’ll play twice in these final three weeks – the Saints will host the Panthers in Week 17 and right now who knows what’ll that mean to either/both of these squads:
What we can tell y’all right now is that the Saints are playing their third consecutive road game – they lost 13-10 at Dallas, then roared back from a 14-3 deficit to beat Tampa Bay 28-14 – and that’s generally not conducive to away sides but QB Drew Brees (31 TDs / 4 INTs) could be looking to going up top plenty against a Carolina defense that’s yielded 30.4 points per game during this rancid five-game SU (straight-up) losing streak. If Carolina wants to apply the brakes on that slide, then QB Cam Newton (24 TDs / 12 INTs) must show he’s more than a dink-and-dunk thrower these days (see sore shoulder).
Spread Notes – New Orleans is 10-3 ATS overall this year and that features three-of-four covers against fellow NFC South foes. The Saints – who are a tasty 15-7 versus the vig as betting favorites since the start of last year – also have covered six of their last seven head-to-head pointspread verdicts versus Carolina with last year’s 31-26 non-cover home win as 6.5-point favs in an NFC Wild Card Round Game the sole spread setback. Note the Panthers are 5-8 ATS overall this year but they drag a five-game spread losing skid into this pirme-time affair.
In other NFL News & Notes …
Okay, so there’s still 33 games left to be played in all this 2018 regular season, but right now here’s how the top three draft picks would look (although we reserve the right to change our minds between now and next April!):
Arizona … Josh Allen, OLB/DE, Kentucky – The woe-be-gone Cardinals need to take the best defensive player on the board and it ain’t the Big 10 guy who sat out the ’18 season.
Oakland … Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State – Hated the fact this kid sat out this season to heal up some bumps/bruises but bottom line is most draftniks rate him higher than his famous big brother at the same stage of their lives.
New York Jets … Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson – The Jets believe they have their “franchise quarterback” in steadily-improving Sam Darnold and now won’t have to trade up to get the draft’s third overall selection for a second straight year.
COLLEGE BOWL BONANZA
On Tuesday, it’s … BOCA RATON BOWL – at Boca Raton, FL
NORTHERN ILLINOIS (8-5) vs. UAB (10-3) – 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
No doubt the TV “talking heads” will be going ga-ga regarding the fact that the UAB Blazers copped this year’s Conference USA crown courtesy of an “instant revenge” win against Middle Tennessee back on Dec. 1st but the story of this Northern Illinois crew is something else too … how about racing back from a 29-10 second-half deficit to beat Buffalo in this year’s Mid-American Conference Championship Game?
The NIU Huskies are a 2.5-point pup here and they’ve won three games in outright upset fashion this season – the number here opened as UAB minus 1 – but veteran QB Marcus Childers could help to spring the mild upset providing he repeats his MAC title game showing of 300 passing yards and four TDs. Note that UAB star RB Spencer Brown (1,149 yards rushing and 16 TDs) runs behind a senior-laden O-line but unless the Blazers’ quarterbacks can steer clear of the big pick (see 15 INTs thrown this year) then Northern Ill could nab its first bowl win since 2011. For you pointspread folks, UAB is a collective 16-8-1 vig-wise since the start of the ’17 season.
NOTE: More College Bowl coverage plus our Monday Night Football recap of Saints-Panthers in the next edition of Jim Sez.