NFL Thursday Preview and College Football
GET THE NFL WEEK 5 ACTION STARTED WITH CARDINALS-49ERS ON THURSDAY NIGHT PLUS THERE’S NCAA FOOTBALL AND WEDNESDAY’S NL WILD CARD GAME TOO
Okay, so are you finally starting to “believe” in the Minnesota Vikings?
Gotta say we tried to warn y’all back in the summertime as we went on record to state we were looking forward to a Super Bowl LI between Minnesota versus Cincinnati and, despite that season-ending injury to QB Teddy Bridgewater and the early-season injury to ace RB Adrian Peterson, here’s Mike Zimmer and the Vikings at 4-and-oh SU (straight-up) and 4-0 ATS (against the spread) with a defense that’s yielded just 50 points and an offense that doesn’t beat itself.
Aww, so you don’t find that entertaining football?
Guess you don’t remember the mid-to-late 1970s when the Pittsburgh Steelers pretty much perfected that style of play and they wound up snatching up four Super Bowl trophies – okay, we know the NFL is only at the proverbial quarter-pole here but Monday’s dominant 24-10 win/cover against the 3.5-point underdog New York Giants included two more forced turnovers (the Vikes are + 10 in that all-important category right now) and gotta like the fact born-again QB Sam Bradford completed two-or-more passes to seven different players.
NFL WEEK 5
On Thursday Night, it’s …
ARIZONA (1-3) at SAN FRANCISCO (1-3) – 8:25 p.m. ET, CBS/NFL Network
Don’t expect the swooning Arizona Cardinals to have QB Carson Palmer on the field here – the concussion suffered last Sunday in that ugly 17-13 loss to Los Angeles figures to keep ‘em sidelined till further notice and now everyone in cactus country is wondering if they should “trust” long-time league backup Drew Stanton (just 4-of-11 passing for 37 yards with two INTs last weekend). The Niners, meanwhile, didn’t follow our prescription for beating Dallas last weekend as RB Carlos Hyde needed 25-plus touches (he got 15 carries and 1 reception – that’s it!) in a 24-17 loss as SF now has dropped three straight.
We’ll say it again to 49ers head coach Chip Kelly – 25+ touches for Mr. Hyde or we’re gonna turn into Dr. Jekyll!
Spread Notes – Arizona has failed to cover six of its last seven games while dating back to late last season while San Francisco’s a rotten 3-8-1 ATS in divisional tilts the past two-plus seasons.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT
As long as we’re talking perfect spread sides (see those Minny Vikings up above), let’s check out what’s on the docket this Saturday for three NCAA Football teams that keep cashin’ every week – that’s Colorado, Kansas State and Miami:
#21 COLORADO (4-1, 2-0 Pac-12) at USC (2-3, 1-2 Pac-12) – 4 p.m. ET
Surprise, surprise … here come the CU Buffaloes stampeding into this week’s rankings and getting lots of action on the Las Vegas big board: Note USC opened as a 6.5-point betting favorite for this conference tilt but that’s been whittled down to 4.5 points at last check and Mike MacIntyre’s team bolts into LA at 5-0 versus the vig while ranking 9th nationally in total offense, 12 nationally in total defense.
TEXAS TECH (3-1, 1-0 Big 12) at KANSAS STATE (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) – 7 p.m. ET
Hats off to the K-State Wildcats who’ve cranked out a 3-0 ATS mark with covers against Stanford, Florida Atlantic and last week at 3.5-point fav West Virginia (last-second FG miss cost the ‘Cats a shot at the outright win). Remember that KSU’s 35-0 lead over Missouri State was shut down a couple of weeks back ‘cause of weather issues or else Bill Snyder’s crew would be 4-0 spreadwise. Now, this week it’s revenge for the Wildcats who lost 59-44 in Lubbock a year ago but the home folks here are 9-point chalk-eaters here.
#23 FLORIDA STATE (3-2, 0-2 ACC) at #10 MIAMI (4-0, 1-0 ACC) – 3:30 p.m. ET
Maybe Mark Richt was a “perfect fit” for this Miami Hurricanes head coaching job – the former Georgia boss has engineered four consecutive season-opening pointspread “W’s” including last weekend’s 35-21 triumph at 8-point dog Georgia Tech (two defensive TDs for the ‘Canes in that one). Hey, don’t know why Florida State is still ranked but it would be a coup de grace game for “The U” if it could win/cover the 3-point price tag here … remember the FSU Noles have won the last six straight in this series.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WILD CARD GAME
On Wednesday, it’s …
SAN FRANCISCO (87-75) at NEW YORK METS (87-75) -- 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Is this gonna be a repeat of recent history (see 2014) when the San Francisco Giants won an NL Wild Card game on the road with LHP Madison Bumgarner on the hill and then roared right through the post-season with a World Series title? The Giants “even year” magic could return (2010, ’12 and ’14) if Bumgarner (15-9) can silence a Mets’ lineup that sizzles when leadoff hitter/SS Jose Reyes gets on board and when LF Yoenis Cespedes bangs out the big extra-base hit. It’s RHP Noah Syndergaard (14-9) starting for a Mets team that is 27-13 since August 19th.