College and NFL Weekend Wrapup
Hey, let's all show some "love" for the AFC South: The Indianapolis Colts (5-2), Houston Texans (5-3), Jacksonville Jaguars (4-4) and Tennessee Titans (4-4) each won SU (straight-up) in Sunday's NFL Week 8 action - okay, so the Colts and Texans failed to cover the almighty pointspread - and right here / right now this is the only division in the National Football League where everybody is playing .500-or-better ball these days. In case you were wondering, the AFC South is a composite 17-13-1 ATS (against the spread) and that's a more-than-respectable .567 winning rate.
All that's well and good but - let's face it - we're "burying the lead" here as the real big stories coming out of the action of Sunday, Oct. 27th is New Orleans QB Drew Brees and then those once-upon-a-time feel-good teams ... the Chicago Bears and the Cleveland Browns.
Let's expound: The 7-and-1 N'Orleans Saints didn't miss Mr. Brees when he went down with a broken thumb way back in Week 2 as savvy veteran Teddy Bridgewater guided this crew to five consecutive wins / covers (versus Seattle, Dallas, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and Chicago) and, yes, we gotta admit we were one of the "experts" that felt Teddy B should have gotten the Week 8 start against the 12-point underdog Arizona Cardinals. But noooo, Brees stepped right back into the starting role and artfully threw for 373 yards with 3 TDs en route to the never-in-question 31-9 victory against the Redbirds. The sixth consecutive spread win for the Saints is pretty amazing stuff but remember last year when New Orleans covered nine consecutive games and that also began in Week 3. Hmmm. The 40-year-old Brees was never sacked in his comeback win and - get this - the Saints were able to roll without do-it-all RB Alvin Kamera (ankle and knee soreness).
Meanwhile, the aforementioned Bears and Browns have been on our radar before:
Back in the Summer of '19, there was all sorts of "tickets" being sold to folks who liked Chicago to win it all at the inviting 14-to-1 price but instead the Bears have been awful with an offense that is terribly frustrating to watch - see just one touchdown in five trips into the Los Angeles Chargers' red zone in that 17-16 loss at Soldier Field. What dopey Bears' head coach Matt Nagy was doing there towards the end of the game while not even attempting to gain a few more yards for PK Eddy Piniero - he missed wide left on a 41-yard try as time expired as the Bolts bagged the 17-16 road win - had to be seen to be believed and still after the game Nagy was still trying to explain the strategy. Duh!
Finally, there's the Browns: The franchise that went from everyone's darling to despised by most of the league exited Sunday's 27-13 loss at 10-point home fav New England knowing that 2-and-5 records are not conducive to making it into the post-season. Cleveland committed three turnovers in the first quarter alone - RB Nick Chubb lost back-to-back fumbles and loud-mouth QB Baker Mayfield threw an INT - and may we remind y'all that the Browns are 2-5 versus the vig this year after going a solid 9-6-1 against the odds all of 2018.
Final NFL Week 8 note before we get to the MNF preview ... The Green Bay Packers entered this season with an "over" wins projection of 9.5 - and last night's 31-24 win /cover at 5-point underdog Kansas City gave the Pack their seventh win of the year. Heck, that's a "futures" play that one could cash before we hit the month of December and so hats off to first-year head coach Matt LaFleur and veteran QB Aaron Rodgers (305 yards passing, 3 TDs and 0 INTs against the Chiefs). Guess that "marriage" is working out, after all!
Tonight, it's ... MIAMI (0-6) at PITTSBURGH (2-4) - 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
Let's keep this "masterpiece" on the short-and-sweet side here: The Steelers still have a shot to resuscitate their season (they've won two of their last three after that ugly 0-3 start) but it's touch-and-go here with QB Mason Rudolph who was kayoed back on Oct. 6 with a blow to the head administered by Baltimore S Earl Thomas. Expect the home folks to have Rudolph throw plenty of dump-offs here while the two-TD underdog Dolphins are counting on WRs DeVante Parker and rookie Preston Williams to make "splash" plays against a tattered Steelers' defense.
Spread Notes - Pittsburgh has failed to cover its last four games when favored by a double-digit price; Miami is a rotten 5-14 ATS away since the very start of the 2017 campaign.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL UPDATE
Here's the lowdown: College Football Betting Favorites registered a dead-even but vig-losing 27-27-1 ATS log this past weekend but - without any question - the biggest chalk choker on the menu was the Oklahoma Sooners (7-1). Geez, Oklahoma went from a 20-point favorite to minus 23.5 points by game time in their Big 12 tilt at Kansas State and, truth is, the Sooners really were not even in the game in the fourth quarter (down 42-23) before finally losing 48-41.
Okay, so third-year head coach Lincoln Riley was not hitting the proverbial "panic button" after this one - he reminded media folks that last year's club started off 5-0 and still wound up in the four-team playoffs (a 45-34 loss to Alabama) but the drop to #9 in the current Associated Press poll is alarming (down from #5) and now the Sooners are in that unenviable position of having to "run the table" and count on the likes of Penn State, Oregon and / or even Utah to lose ... or else.
In other College Football News /Notes ...
Wasn't this supposed to be the year second-year Nebraska head coach Scott Frost turned the beat around with Big Red (see back-to-back 4-8 SU seasons the past two years)? Instead, Frost's been exposed as his 'Husker sit in fourth place in the Big 10 West following last weekend's bumbling 38-31 home loss against 2.5-point pup Indiana. Did you know Nebraska is now 1-7 against the Las Vegas prices this year and it's quite possible the Cornhuskers will have to trot out a third-string QB for its game this Saturday at Purdue.
Then there's the always-enigmatic Texas Longhorns: Hey, we've got 'em figured out here at the Jim Hurley Network as, again, we cashed with TCU's 10-point win against the burnt orange gang but what's with Texas QB Sam Ehlinger (four INTs) and that crummy 116th-ranked defense? Maybe the Texas folks will have to "settle" for a pre-New Year's Day bowl - how does a Camping World Bowl against Florida State sound to you guys /gals? Ugh!
WORLD SERIES ODDS & ENDS
As the good folks at Fox informed us last night, there were two other occasions in WS history in which the road teams won the first five games (see 1996 for the latest) but keep in mind here that road teams in this here and now Fall Classic have cashed at the following prices: + 180, +162, -150, even money and -210 ... If the up-three-games-to-two Houston Astros do win Game 6 at home tomorrow night, backers would win at the modest win-it-all price at + 140; the Washington Nationals entered the post-season at 14-to-1 underdogs ...
Finally, best stat from last night's 7-1 Astros' win in Game 5: The first three hitters in the Nats' order - that's SS Trea Turner, RF Adam Eaton and slick-fielding 3B Anthony Rendon went a combined 0-for-11 at the plate while the underrated Houston bullpen chipped in two more scoreless innings following in the place of ace starter RHP Gerrit Cole. Three cheers for RHP Joe Smith and RHP Will Harris who have been wonderful this post-season for the 'Stros.