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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 at 11:00 AM

It’s gone largely unnoticed by the mainstream media. They love to hype big stats rather than wonder what’s happening when nobody’s moving the ball. Passing stats are WAY down in recent weeks in the NFL. It’s been obvious to statheads and fantasy football players. Did YOU notice?

Remember when big passing stats were the norm back at the beginning of the season? Offseason rules changes had seemingly made it impossible to defend. Touch the quarterback, and that’s “roughing.” Get to close to a receiver, and that’s “defensive holding.” Make any contact when the ball is in the air, “pass interference,” which can be a huge penalty on long passes. Given free reign, offenses lit up the scoreboard and stat sheet.

Referees aren’t calling it that closely any more. The NFL didn’t want to become Arena Football. And, you can’t embarrass HALF your players every week! It’s likely also true that many defenses made smart adjustments that have slowed down quarterbacks. Weather’s been an issue in a few spots, which is typical for December. It all created a weekend where the following passing lines WON football games…

Minnesota: 14-21-1-198

Buffalo: 13-26-0-195

Indianapolis: 16-27-0-192

New Orleans: 23-35-1-191

Cleveland: 18-31-1-175

Washington: 16-25-0-136

Baltimore: 14-23-0-128

Cincinnati 14-33-1-123

Tennessee: 13-21-0-86

That’s more than half the NFL winning its games last week with less than 200 passing yards. Four teams won with less than 140 passing yards! What is this, 1963?!

Again, those are WINNERS. Jacksonville lost with a passing line of 9-17-1-20. Yes, 20 passing yards. Miami wasn’t much better at 11-24-0-37 in Minnesota.

If THIS is what football is going to look like in the last two seeks of the regular season and through the playoffs, handicappers must make some adjustments. Throw full season stats out the window. Have you watched the New Orleans Saints the past few weeks? Completely different team. Much better defense, but an offense that dinks and dunks (and punts). You can now more confidently back defensive-minded teams because they have a chance. Great news for Chicago Bears fans.

Here are some adjustment tips from JIM HURLEY…

*Only look at stats from the last 3-5 games for each team. Don’t worry about what happened back in September and October. The game was different back then. Referees aren’t making it easy for offenses any more.

*Focus on the skill sets of the current quarterback. Some teams have made changes (to worse QB’s!). Some successful QBs have been figured out to a degree, at least enough to cut back on the number of big plays. All the juggernauts have slowed down. Some so much that they might suffer early playoff exits.

*Re-introduce yourself to defenses! We’ve been saying “defense wins championships” in all sports since the HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK began online many years ago. It was easy to think that wouldn’t be the case any more back in September. Now, everyone’s afraid of the Chicago Bears…and to a lesser extent Dallas, Seattle, and even Houston. Heck, New Orleans might be a “win with defense” team the rest of the way.

*Pay attention to weather forecasts. Wind really looks to have messed up offenses, especially now that the refs are letting defensive secondaries do a little grabbing. Swirling winds can wreak havoc with field goal kickers too. Precipitation has influenced a few outings, and probably will have an impact here and there the rest of the way.

*Don’t forget about turf conditions! Turf is getting torn up from wear and tear at some of the outdoor grass sites. The league tries to hide that on TV with green spray paint.

The biggest key is to “forget” most of what happened in the first two months. That’s no longer the reality of 2018 football. Consider it an experiment that overshot the mark for helping offenses. What you see NOW for playoff contenders is what you’re going to see in the playoffs. And, some of these bad teams forced to use backup quarterbacks (Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Washington, maybe soon Green Bay and other non-contenders) will have serious trouble moving the ball except in garbage time.

The great thing about this relatively sudden turn of events is that it caught the betting markets napping. Oddsmakers were slow to adjust. The sharps that bet first were still using old data (particularly the quants). How else would you explain the LA Rams being almost two touchdown favorites in a game they couldn’t even win straight up? That Rams offense (and a few others) stopped looking so unstoppable once the refs swallowed their whistles more often. The exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING approach of JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK was built to react quickly to real-world developments. We do the work, YOU MAKE THE MONEY!

You can purchase JIM HURLEY’S top plays right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about long term or multi-sport combination packages, please call us in the office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155. We have great rates that take you through all the college bowls or NFL playoffs. If you like basketball, we can take you through March Madness or the NBA Playoffs too.

Have YOU been rooting for too many big favorites and too many Overs? Have you been assuming some of these offenses would “bounce back” after off-weeks, only to see the sluggishness continue? Stop rooting for your bets in the TV games, and study what’s really happening! The world has changed. But…one thing that never changes…you’re going to GET THE MONEY WITH JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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