Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, January 3, 2020 at 12:00 AM
DRUM ROLL, PLEASE:
IT’S NFL WILD CARD WEEKEND —
HERE’S THE GAME PREVIEWS
FOR THE SATURDAY SHOWDOWNS
BETWEEN THE BILLS-TEXANS & TITANS-PATRIOTS …
PLUS, WE’VE GOT THE ARMED FORCES BOWL TOO
The National Football League’s 100th year in existence is about to get really, really exciting … trust us!
This year’s post-season will be chock full of great matchups and it’ll all get started here on this first weekend of the New Year. In today’s edition of Jim Hurley, we’ll delve into the Saturday Wild Card Games – that’s Buffalo at Houston (4:35 p.m. ET) followed by Tennessee at New England (8:15 p.m. ET) and in tomorrow’s Jim Sez we’ll preview the NFC Wild Card Games for Sunday. Got it?
SUPER BOWL LIV ODDS TO WIN IT ALL
Here’s the up-to-the-minute Super Bowl LIV Odds (all based on $100 per-play wagers):
Baltimore + 200
San Francisco + 300
Kansas City + 325
New Orleans + 375
Green Bay + 800
New England + 900
Seattle + 1950
Philadelphia + 2500
Houston + 3000
Minnesota + 3000
Tennessee + 4000
Buffalo + 5000
Now hear this …
Jim Hurley’s Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have this weekend’s NFL Wild Card Playoff winners on both Saturday/Sunday – 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 Football Bowls.
NFL WILD CARD GAMES
On Saturday, it’s …
BUFFALO (10-6) at HOUSTON (10-6) – 4:35 p.m. ET, ESPN / Line: Houston – 2.5 and 44 points
It’s hard to believe that this year’s Texans rank 28th in the league in total defense (allowing 388.3 yards per game) and that’s not all because DE J.J. Watt has missed more than two months with a torn pec muscle. Now, Watt makes his return – and he figures to play plenty after Houston collected just 31 sacks this year – but it’s hard to ignore the fact that this ’19 Bills team ranked 3rd in the NFL in total defense (surrendered just 298.3 ypg) and Buffalo’s stop unit figures to put on lots of heat against Houston QB Deshaun Watson who has injured just about every possible body part. Key here is whether Buffalo QB Josh Allen can make enough plays with his legs when the pocket breaks down and in designed runs – anything more than 50 yards rushing for Allen and the roadsters likely win.
Spread Notes – The Bills are 9-6-1 ATS (against the spread) this year and that includes a 5-3-1 ATS mark when in the underdog role; Meanwhile, the Texans are 7-8-1 vig-wise this year and note this AFC South squad is 1-5-1 ATS as favorites this season and a composite 8-14-3 odds-wise as chalk the past three years.
TENNESSEE (9-7) at NEW ENGLAND (12-4) – 8:15 p.m. ET, CBS / Line: New England – 5.5 and 44.5 points
The Las Vegas price tag has bounced around a bit here as the host Patriots opened at -5.5 points, immediately dropped to -4.5 and now things have worked their way back to the original opening price … hmmm. No doubt New England is not accustomed to playing in this round — first time since the 2009 season – and no question any inclement weather here (see Hurricane Henry, no kidding) aids the visiting Titans who star sledgehammer RB Derrick Henry (NFL-best 1,540 yards rushing).
If the Pats are gonna cover this number and move on to the divisional playoffs, then QB Tom Brady (only 24 regular-season TDs) must get into a real rhythm with WR Julian Edelman and rookie WR N’Keal Henry plus Bill Belichick’s club must turn over Titans’ QB Ryan Tannehill three or four times.
Spread Notes – Tennessee’s a modest 8-7-1 against the numbers this 2019 season but did you know the Titans are just 23-34-1 ATS as underdogs since the start of the 2014 season?; on the flip side, New England is 9-7 versus the Vegas prices this season and a collective 12-6 ATS in post-season games since 2012.
COLLEGE BOWL BLITZ
ARMED FORCES BOWL – at Fort Worth, TX
TULANE (6-6) vs. SOUTHERN MISS (7-5) – 11:30 a.m., ESPN
An old rivalry gets renewed deep in the heart of Texas here … the keys?
Tulane looks for QB Justin McMillan (2,229 yards passing and 704 yards rushing) to move those chains for the TD-favored Green Wave while Southern Miss -- #14 in the country in rush defense – must remain stout there and must get some rushing yards on its own after ranking #117 in ground yardage.
Spread Note – Tulane covered eight of its dozen regular-season games; Southern Miss is 1-5-1 ATS in bowl games the past decade.
COLLEGE BOWL POINTSPREAD STANDINGS
(thru Jan. 2, 2020)
CONF WON LOSS TIE PCT
Mid-Eastern Athletic 1 0 0 1.000
Mid-American 3 1 1 .750
Mountain West 4 2 0 .667
Independents 2 1 0 .667
Pac-12 4 3 0 .571
Big 10 5 4 0 .556
American Athletic 3 3 0 .500
Conference USA 3 3 1 .500
SEC 4 5 0 .444
ACC 4 6 0 .400
Big 12 2 4 0 .333
Sun Belt 1 3 0 .250
SWAC 0 1 0 .000
NOTE: Catch Sunday’s NFL Wild Card previews in tomorrow’s Jim Sez.