Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 9:03 AM
The stocking's full of important NFL Week 16 showdowns and so we'll get to 'em all in a moment with a reminder that we'll preview Sunday Night's Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers clash in the next edition Jim Sez ... okay? Now, here are the Thursday/Saturday key tilts in the league where they play for pay:
On Thursday, it's ...
HOUSTON (10-4) at INDIANAPOLIS (1-13) - 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Who knew that the Indy Colts would be entering this prime-time tilt with the "longer winning streak" here? Last weekend's 27-13 Indy triumph over hapless Tennessee did feature a career-best 161 yards rushing by RB Donald Brown (see 80-yard, cut-back-against-the-grain TD run in the fourth quarter) while the flip side says the Texans already could be losing confidence in stand-in quarterback T.J. Yates who incurred the sideline wrath of head coach Gary Kubiak in last week's sloppy 28-13 home loss against Carolina. Hey did you realize the Colts have covered their last three consecutive games and that's the team's longest pointspread winning streak since 2009? No kidding!
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will win big-time in NFL Week 16 action beginning with tonight's bash between the Houston Texans at the Indianapolis Colts and - of course -- don't forget all the College Football Bowl Games right through the BCS Championship Game on Jan. 9th. Plus there is plenty of College Basketball action and the NBA gets things tipped off on Christmas Day with Five (5) big games including an NBA Finals rematch between the champion Dallas Mavericks and the runner-up Miami Heat. So make sure you're part of all the winning pro hoops action right into the New Year! And make sure you get all the Football and Basketball winners at our toll-free # of 1-800-323-4453 or else get it online right here as America's #1 Handicapper keeps up the winning beat!
On Saturday, it's ...
OAKLAND (7-7) at KANSAS CITY (6-8) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Just had to feel really great for KayCee Chiefs interim head coach Romeo Crennel for last week's stunning 19-14 win against previously-unbeaten Green Bay ... the long-time defensive coordinator and one-time Cleveland Browns head coach has been a brilliant strategist for years in the league (going way back to his New York Giants days) and yet he rarely ever received the nation-wide rave reviews. Now, the $64,000 question is can Crennel get another "A+" performance from his team here as it looks to hang in the wild/wacky AFC West race? Maybe if DE Tamba Hali (three sacks last Sunday) wrecks the day for Raiders QB Carson Palmer than the Chiefs could enter Week 17's game in Denver with a post-season shot.
DENVER (8-6) at BUFFALO (5-9) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS
It's safe to say that "Tebow-mania" took a little dip with last Sunday's 41-23 Broncos home loss against mighty New England (although the TV ratings for CBS were out-of-sight for a Sunday afternoon game!) and it'll be interesting to see how the swirling winds in western New York now effect QB Tim Tebow's throws here - might the former Heisman Trophy winner be running the ball another 20-plus times? It's great that Broncos' boss John Elway just proclaimed that "Tebow isn't going anywhere" but, than again, what did you expect him to say at this late stage of the 2011 campaign? Meanwhile, memo to Buffalo's sagging defense - how about showing up for a day's worth of work (see a 32 points-per-game average yield during this seven-game losing skid)?
JACKSONVILLE (4-10) at TENNESSEE (7-7) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Don't think that you're the only one who's believed the 2011 Tennessee Titans have been merely playoff imposters ... there are plenty of folks who have not "bought in" to Mike Munchak's squad and gotta wonder if it's time to let rookie QB Jake Locker man the controls after recent showings by sagging vet Matt Hasselbeck - his pick at the goal line in last week's two-TD loss in Indianapolis was amateurish stuff, so say the least! Locker - who sported a nifty 108.3 QB rating last weekend while completing 11-of-16 passes with one TD and no picks -- would bring some mental and physical toughness to the position and the Titans need that considering RB Chris Johnson has been out-to-lunch for much of this year (see just 930 yards rushing and only 4 TDs so far this year).
ARIZONA (7-7) at CINCINNATI (8-6) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
No doubt about it: The 'Zona Cardinals are one of four NFL teams surging late in hopes of gobbling up a playoff berth (see also Philadelphia, San Diego and Seattle) and if the Redbirds - winners of four in a row and six of the last seven SU (straight-up) - wish to stay on track here than ace rookie return specialist Patrick Peterson likely will have to made a couple of big plays on special teams and QB John Skelton must not take "bad" sacks here. Hey, the Bengals have held three of their last four foes to 20 points or less but keep in mind Cincy's a very dreary 0-5-1 ATS (against the spread) the past six weeks.
MIAMI (5-9) at NEW ENGLAND (11-3) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Just like that the Patriots are the top seed (for now) in the AFC Playoffs race and who would believe the fact that this much-maligned New England has surrendered more than 27 points just once this whole year (see 34-31 loss in Buffalo way back in Week 3 play)? Heck, if you didn't know any better than you might think the Pats allow 30-plus points a game on a weekly basis but that's simply not the case and here Bill Belichick's stop unit must wrap up red-hot RB Reggie Bush (973 yards rushing and a 5.0 yards-per-carry average this year) who - believe it or not - might be one of the NFL's top 10 backs at this very moment. Remember that New England could be home for a month straight right now 'cause the Week 17 game is in Foxboro versus the aforementioned Bills and than the Pats could have a playoff first-round bye and than two home games. Hmmm.
CLEVELAND (4-10) at BALTIMORE (10-4) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS
All this talk about just who are the "real Ravens" gets us to thinking one thing: Maybe fourth-year head coach John Harbaugh hasn't done such a great job this season after all when you stop to consider those sloppy losses in Tennessee, Jacksonville, Seattle and San Diego. Okay, so Baltimore's home here where the AFC North crew is 7-0 SU and 5-2 ATS but when is QB Joe Flacco gonna step into his passes with conviction and how come WR Anquan Boldin has been the invisible man in so many of his team's games this year? Remember the Ravens (- 6 ½) beat the Browns 24-10 in Cleveland back on Dec. 4th when Ravens RB Ray Rice rushed for 204 yards (and a sizzling 7.0 ypc average).
NEW YORK GIANTS (7-7) at NEW YORK JETS (8-6) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Memo to Jets head coach Rex Ryan ... shut up already! The non-stop motor-mouth has been trash-talking since Monday morning - gee, how come he didn't have very many things to say about his team's 45-19 no-show loss in Philadelphia last weekend? - but the only way his J-E-T-S have the proverbial "last laugh" here is if his offensive line can offer better pass protection to a battered QB Mark Sanchez who last week hit the canvas more often than Rocky! On the flip side, the Giants' secondary has become a real laughingstock this season and so maybe with time Sanchez can hook up with 20-plus yard pass plays to WRs Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress - game plan for the G-men should be to get RB Ahmad Bradshaw loose in space and hope the slowish NYJ LBs/DBs can't wrap 'em up. Gee, wonder what "Fireman Ed" is getting for Christmas this year?
ST. LOUIS (2-12) at PITTSBURGH (10-4) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Now that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has spent the better part of this week answering critics who said injured QB Ben Roethlisberger (high ankle sprain) should have been sitting the final seven-plus minutes of that 20-3 lights-out loss in San Francisco in MNF, the AFC North crew gets to take a deep breath and play a Rams team that is a dreadful 2-11-1 ATS this year. Expect the Pittsburgh game plan to be jump on St. Loo early - and somebody better block DE Chris Long (13 sacks) and here's hoping that assignment does not go alone to LT Max Starks who was awful against Niners' rookie DE Aldon Smith.
SAN DIEGO (7-7) at DETROIT (9-5) - 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS
The numbers don't lie and they say the SD Chargers have outscored their last three opponents 109-to-38 and think it has anything to do with the fact QB Philip Rivers has lots of time to dissect things downfield? The O-line that's still missing two starters has jelled nicely in recent weeks plus Rivers has been less prone to throw up-for-grabs passes but, ironically enough, the way the Lions may win here will be if WR Calvin Johnson (9 receptions for 214 yards and two TDs last week in the thrilling 28-27 come-from-behind win at Oakland) catches all those up-for-grabs balls tossed in his general direction. One X-factor for this ultra-important tilt at Ford Field: Can Detroit's defense here jar the ball loose from fumble-prone Chargers RB Ryan Mathews? Stay tuned.
SAN FRANCISCO (11-3) at SEATTLE (7-7) - 4:15 p.m. ET, Fox
Let's see: It's a short week plus travel plus fresh off a monstrous MNF win against Pittsburgh - is that all part of the recipe for failure here for the San Fran 49ers? No doubt Jim Harbaugh's gang wants to keep the N'Orleans Saints in the rear-view mirror when it comes to that all-important #2 playoff seed in the NFC but to bang out a road win here the Niners are gonna have to hit some red-zone plays. Believe it or not, San Francisco's now not scored a touchdown in 17 of its last 22 trips inside the opponent's 20-yard line. Note the following when it comes to these scorching-hot Seahawks who've won five of their last six games SU: Pete Carroll's crew is 10-2 versus the vig ever since opening the year with back-to-back spread setbacks.
PHILADELPHIA (6-8) at DALLAS (8-6) - 4:15 p.m. ET, Fox
Here's what we've noticed about the Philly Eagles while winning easy the past two weeks against Miami and the NY Jets: They're having fun again and playing with mucho confidence. Okay, so maybe it will turn out to be too-little, too-late for Andy Reid's club but the fact of the matter is the QB Michael Vick-to-TE Brent Celek tandem is burning up enemy defenses (see five catches for 156 yards and a score for Celek last week against the Jets) and sack master DE Jason Babin is disrupting everything but morning train schedules! If Babin (an NFL-high 18 sacks) isn't blocked (from wherever he lines up) here, than Cowboys slinger Tony Romo won't have the time to wait for WRs Miles Austin and Laurent Robinson to get deep - you heard it here first! Hey, maybe it would only be appropriate in this mediocre NFC East if the Eagles, Cowboys and NY Giants all finished up the year at 8-8 ... right?
NOTE: Get more NFL Week 16 goodies in the next edition of Jim Sez!