Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, December 28, 2019 at 12:00 AM
NFL WEEK 17 UPDATE –
CHECKIN’ OUT THE KEY GAMES …
PLUS, THERE’S MORE
COLLEGE BOWL BLITZ ACTION
AS WE ZOOM IN ON MONDAY’S ACTION
Folks, by now you more-than-likely know all the playoff machinations – including that wild setup involving the 7-and-8 Oakland Raiders – so we won’t waste your time with all the “win-and-they’re-in” scenarios but instead let’s just rattle our way through with some NFL Week 17 thoughts / observations:
The Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7) have been piecing together their quarterback position ever since Ben Roethlisberger went down early in the year but Devlin “Duck” Hodges comes into Sunday’s game at #1 seed Baltimore with a shabby 75.8 QB Rating and with more INTs (8) than TDs (5). What’s the plan here if Hodges falls flat on his facemask early in this game? Hmmm …
The Kansas City Chiefs have been solid cash-makers in regular-season finales – KC’s covered seven of its last 10 games played in Week 17 – but did you realize the Chiefs own a 9-3 spread log in their last dozen head-to-head games against the Los Angeles (nee San Diego) Chargers? Still, Kansas City’s failed to cover four of its last five playoff home games the past 10 years. Crazy!
The Green Bay Packers are a rock-solid 10-5 ATS (against the spread) this season under first-year boss Matt LaFleur and the only time the Pack was forced to lay double digits was a 20-15 non-cover win against 13-point dog Washington back Week 14. Now, Green Bay’s a 12.5-point road favorite at injury-riddled Detroit and if the visitors do cover this huge spread then it’ll probably be the defense that saves the day after having allowed just 51 total points these last four weeks of play …
On Sunday Night, the NFC West (and maybe a whole lot more) is on the line in Seattle where the host Seahawks are 3.5-point dogs versus San Francisco. Here’s a not-so-strange-but-true factoid: Home teams are 14-7-1 ATS in the last 22 showdowns between these teams and that includes Seattle’s 23-17 win / cover as 4-point home favs in the 2013 NFC Championship Game.
Now hear this …
Jim Hurley’s Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have today’s College Football Playoff winners plus more Saturday bowl action and there’s NFL Week 17 winners on Sunday too – just call us on game days at the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here at www.jimhurley.com and also cash in with NBA / NCAA hoops.
COLLEGE BOWL BONANZA
Here is what’s on tap for the bowl games of Monday, Dec. 30th:
FIRST RESPONDERS BOWL – at Dallas, TX
WESTERN MICHIGAN (7-5) vs. WESTERN KENTUCKY (8-4) – 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
This “Battle of Westerns” figures to be close – WKU is a 3-point favorite at press time – but if former Arkansas QB Ty Storey (a 71 percent passer with 12 TDs / 5 INTs) gets hot and stays hot then the favored Hilltoppers will end the year on a four-game SU (straight-up) winning streak.
Spread Note – Western Michigan’s failed to cover eight of its last 10 tilts when in the underdog role.
MUSIC CITY BOWL – at Nashville, TN
MISS STATE (6-6) vs. LOUISVILLE (7-5) – 4 p.m. ET, ESPN
Could the U of L Cardinals go from a 2-10 team a year ago to a bowl winner here (and note no bowl wins since 2015)? First-year boss Scott Satterfield has guided his Redbirds to point totals of 38-or-more in five games and now QB Micale Cunningham – who’s thrown 20 TDs in 11 games this year – looks to beat back a Miss State squad that just announced Tommy Stevens has been re-inserted as quarterback for an injured Garrett Shrader. If the Bulldogs get behind it’s problematic with the country’s 112th-ranked passing game a major issue all year long.
Spread Note – The M-State Bulldogs have covered eight of their last dozen games against non-SEC opponents.
REDBOX BOWL – at Santa Clara, CA
CALIFORNIA (7-5) vs. ILLINOIS (6-6) – 4 p.m. ET, Fox
It’s been a looooong dry spell when it comes to bowl games for Illinois (see 2011 season – a 20-14 win/cover against UCLA in the Fight Hunger Bowl) – but Lovie Smith’s club is eyeballing a possible fourth outright upset triumph here against a Cal club with little offensive pop (ranked 117th nationally in total offense) and missing at least three defensive starters including S Trey Turner. Maybe Cal LB Evan Weaver -- a veritable tackling machine – will be the one to set the mood here. Is the “totals” price too high at 43.5 points?
Spread Note – Illinois enters this bowl bash out West having covered six of its last seven games and that includes the 24-23 triumph over 30.5-point fav Wisconsin … yowie!
ORANGE BOWL – at Miami Gardens, FL
#24 VIRGINIA (9-4) vs. #9 FLORIDA (10-2) – 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Let’s get right down to it: The Florida Gators – a 14.5-point betting favorite at last check – is 3-0-1 ATS as favs of 14-or-more points this season and the SEC crew has thrown three shutouts and allowed 20 points or less in eight games this ’19 season. Okay, so if Virginia (ranked a lowly 111th in rushing offense) is gonna have any shot here than do-it-all QB Bryce Perkins (thrown for more than 3,000 yards and rushed for more than 700 yards this year) must be Superman-plus here.
No question that the mighty Gators – who already own wins / covers this year against Tennessee, Auburn and Florida State (all bowl teams) – have plenty of ammo on offense with season-saver QB Kyle Trask (2,636 yards passing with 24 TDs and 6 INTs) leading the way.
Spread Notes – Florida is a nifty 14-7-2 against the odds under second-year head coach Dan Mullen; Virginia’s 14-6-1 spreadwise when facing non-ACC foes since the start of 2014.
NOTE: There’s New Year’s Eve Bowl Previews – Five (5) of ‘em – in the very next edition of Jim Sez.