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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, January 4, 2020 at 12:00 AM

 

DRUM ROLL, PLEASE:

IT’S NFL WILD CARD WEEKEND —

HERE’S THE GAME PREVIEWS

FIRST 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):

 

TEAM                     ODDS

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. 3, 2020)

 

CONF                              WON      LOSS       TIE           PCT

Mid-Eastern Athletic   1              0              0              1.000

Mountain West            5              2              0              .714

Independents               2              1              0              .667

Mid-American              3              2              1              .600

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

 

 

 

NOW, HERE ARE SUNDAY’S

NFC WILD CARD GAMES –

VIKINGS AT SAINTS,

SEAHAWKS AT EAGLES

 

The NFL Playoff party rages on with a pair of NFC Wild Card Games on this first Sunday of 2020, so let’s get to ‘em but first this quickie reminder:

 

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 Sunday, it’s …

MINNESOTA (10-6) at NEW ORLEANS (13-3) – 1:05 p.m. ET, Fox / Line: Houston – 7.5 and 49.5 points

Let’s face it: Nobody in “The Big Easy” needs to remind the locals just how bad the heartache’s been these past two post-seasons with the “Minneapolis Miracle” in the winter of 2017 followed by last year’s NFC Championship Game non-call on what should have been clear pass interference against the LA Rams, so please excuse Saints fans for waking up in a bad mood today! 

The bottom line, however, is the “Who Dat’s” frolic into this home playoff game with the NFL’s all-time touchdown passing leader in QB Drew Brees (2,979 yards passing with 27 TDs and 4 INTs this year after missing a chunk of games with a fractured thumb) and a very healthy RB Alvin Kamera who collected an underwhelming 1,330 yards from scrimmage in 2019 but did register a pair of rushing scores last weekend in Carolina.

If Brees is on target here – paging all-world WR Michael Thomas (NFL-best 149 pass receptions) – and Kamera is scooting around while picking up huge chunks of yards, then truth is this TD-plus underdog Vikings team probably doesn’t stand a chance even if Minny RB Dalvin Cooks (1,135 yards rushing with 13 TDs) is close to 100 percent after missing time lately with a shoulder injury.

Spread Notes – New Orleans has covered 11 of its last 14 games this year following a rocky 0-and-2 pointspread start but note the Saints are a collective 0-3-1 spreadwise in playoff games the past two seasons; Meanwhile, Minnesota is 9-7 ATS (against the spread) this year and the Vikings enter this post-season bash at 61-35-3 vig-wise under sixth-year boss-man Mike Zimmer.

 

SEATTLE (11-5) at PHILADELPHIA (9-7) – 4:40 p.m. ET, NBC / Line: Seattle – 1.5 and 45.5 points

Hey, hey, hey:

We don’t want to hear any catcalls regarding the fact the Seahawks won two more regular-season games than did the host Eagles here – Philly won its ugly NFC East title fair and square and actually zoom into this post-season clash riding a four-game SU (straight-up) winning streak and a three-game ATS winning streak … so there!

Fourth-year head coach Doug Pederson has preached (and practiced) the “next man up” approach following the slew of injuries to the Eagles but now Philly’s dealing with Seattle QB Russell Wilson (he is 4-0 SU all-time against the Eagles) who was sacked six times back in Week 12 when Seattle eked out a 17-9 win as 1.5-point road favorites. If the Seahawks’ O-line suffers through another crummy game here then the Eagles – starring a blitz-happy Jim Schwartz-defense – can steal this rematch.

One major X-factor in play here: The Eagles cannot have any stutters from PK Jake Elliott who has missed four FGs in his team’s last five games. The point is this one could well be a battle of field possession between the 20s and we say the team with the more made “threes” will win.

Spread Notes – Seattle’s 7-8-1 against the Las Vegas price tags this season and overall the Seahawks are 10-4-3 ATS away since the start of the 2018 campaign; On the flip side, Philadelphia is 7-9 ATS this year and a composite 5-10-1 spreadwise as hosts these past two years.

 

 

NOTE: Catch the first look at the NFL Divisional Playoffs with the next edition of Jim Sez and remember all next week we’ll have plenty to say about College Football’s Championship Game between #1 LSU versus #3 Clemson (Monday, Jan. 13, 2020).

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