Thursday NFL Preview and Early Bowl Notes
RAIDERS-CHIEFS AFC WEST SHOWDOWN ON THURSDAY NITE …
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT: WE DROP SOME KNOWLEDGE ON A TRIO OF EARLY BOWL GAMES
We believe they call this “crunch time”.
The National Football League’s 2016 regular season has four weeks remaining and, boy, you can expect a dizzying race to the finish line
Just check out the NFL standings and you’ll see the following:
There are three divisions that sport flat-footed ties for first place right now – the AFC North, the AFC South (where three teams are tied for first) and the NFC South – and the wild card races are pretty steamy too with the possibility that the NFC East and the AFC West will put three teams apiece into this year’s post-season.
NFL WEEK 14
On Thursday Night, it’s…OAKLAND (10-2) at KANSAS CITY (9-3) – 8:25 p.m. ET, NBC/NFL Network
Sorry, we simply don’t have the time/space to regal you with all the old Raiders v. Chiefs stories dating back to the 1960s – conjure up those Lenny Dawson and Ben Davidson showdowns when you get a second (or google the names if you need to!) – but just remember this is a “revenge game” for Bay Area gang after the Raiders suffered a 26-10 home loss to KC way back in Week 6 play.
Yes, the Chiefs were coming off their bye week back then and were a well-prepped bunch as QB Alex Smith completed 19-of-22 passes for 224 yards in that outing but it was offensive balance – RB Spencer Ware rushed for 131 yards on 24 pops – and a rock-solid defense that won that game for Andy Reid’s crew and gotta believe a similar script will need to be followed here if Kansas City’s gonna get the season sweep against the silver-and-black.
X-factor for the 3-point road underdog Raiders?
Get drop-prone WR Michael Crabtree more involved after he snagged just two receptions worth 10 yards in that first meeting (and try to keep QB Derek Carr from damaging any more pinky digits!).
Spread Notes – Oakland is 8-4 ATS (against the spread) so far this ’16 season but did you know that road teams are 16-5 versus the vig in this rivalry dating back to the 2006 season? Note that Kansas City’s 6-5-1 against the Las Vegas prices this year and overall the Chiefs are just 9-10-1 ATS at home the past two-plus seasons. Hmm, maybe Arrowhead Stadium is “overrated”!
COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWLS
Folks, we’ll be getting out all the game-by-game Bowl Previews in the coming days/weeks but for now we wanted to whet your appetite with some “knowledge” regarding a few of the early Bowl Games … so here goes:
LAS VEGAS BOWL – Saturday, Dec. 17
HOUSTON (9-3) vs. SAN DIEGO STATE (10-3) – 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Good one on Day One of the bowls as the Houston Cougars attempt to end this topsy-turvy season on top – the oddsmakers have the Coogs as 3.5-point betting favorites here – with QB Greg Ward, Jr. (3,328 yards passing with 22 aerial scores) looking to damage a San Diego State stop unit that ranked #12 in overall defense this year. It was a late-season stats swoon by SDSU star RB Donnell Pumphrey who still rushed for 2,018 yards and 16 TDs – but will he get 25-plus touches here? It’s life after Texas-bound head coach Tom Herman for the Houston gang here.
POINSETTIA BOWL – Wednesday, Dec. 21
BYU (8-4) vs. WYOMING (8-5) – 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
One thing we loved about this BYU bunch is that it challenged one of the country’s most difficult season-opening schedules – and still wound up going a tasty 9-3 against the odds? Now, if QB Taysom Hill (12 TDs, 11 INTs) can spread the wealth here, BYU might just cover that bloated 8.5-point price tag – keep in mind the Cougars have five players with 25-or-more receptions this year including WR Nick Kurtz (46 receptions). On the flip side, Wyoming stunned football folks with outright upset wins against Northern Illinois, Colorado State, Air Force, Boise State and San Diego State (note that three of those upsets came against teams favored by 9.5-or-more points!). The leading star of this Wyoming offense is RB Brian Hill (1,767 yards rushing and 21 TDs) who helped the Pokes average nearly 210 yards rushing per game this season.
ARMED FORCES BOWL – Friday, Dec. 23
LOUISIANA TECH (8-5) vs. #25 NAVY (9-3, pending Army game) – 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Keep in mind the fact the Navy Midshipmen still have this “little game” against Army on tap this weekend – plus there’s major injury news as QB Will Worth (1,397 passing yards and 1,198 yards rushing) is gone for the year following last weekend’s right foot injury plus slotback Toneo Gulley (left foot) is also gonzo. No doubt Louisiana Tech QB Ryan Higgins (4,208 yards passing with 37 TDs) would love to expose the Middie secondary that was putrid in last weekend’s 34-10 loss to Temple in the American Athletic Conference Championship Game, but expect sharpie Navy boss Ken Niumatalolo to have some tricks up his sleeve here.