Swerb's Blurbs #12

Holiday blurbs for one and all from Swerb! There's a full slate of college and pro football on tap, and Swerb looks at it all. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

NFL Notebook


Playoff Picture:  The race in the AFC continues to be a muddled one.  The Colts overtime victory over the Broncos left the AFC without a team with more than 7 wins, and without a frontrunner for the home field advantage…which is a wide open race right now.  As it stands, the six teams currently holding the playoff positions all have 4 losses, with a host of 6-5 and 5-6 teams looking to make a move.  At least 10 wins will be needed, and likely help from the tiebreak system, in order to nail down an AFC wild card berth.  Teams at 5-6 have no margin for error.


Over in the NFC, the Giants and the Rams failed to capitalize on the Saints second consecutive loss this past week.  New Orleans continues to hold a 1 game advantage over the Giants for the NFC's final playoff berth.  Tampa Bay's defeat of the Packers was a monumental one, as it gave them a one game lead over them and the tiebreak in the race for home field advantage.  The Eagles shocking dismembering of San Fran keeps them in the race for home field as well and drops the Niners two game behind Tampa in that race.




1st Round Byes:  Miami (7-4) and Indianapolis (7-4)

Other Division Leaders:  Denver (7-4) and Pittsburgh (6-4-1)

Wild Card Teams:  San Diego (7-4) and Oakland (7-4)

Stalking the Pack:  Cleveland (6-5), New England (6-5), NY Jets (6-5), Tennessee (6-5), Baltimore (5-6), Jacksonville (5-6), Buffalo (5-6), and Kansas City (5-6)




1st Round Byes:  Tampa Bay (9-2) and Green Bay (8-3)

Other Division Leaders:  Philadelphia (8-3) and San Francisco (7-4)

Wild Card Teams:  Atlanta (7-3-1) and New Orleans (7-4)

Stalking the Pack:  NY Giants (6-5), St. Louis (5-6), and Washington (5-6)


Looking Ahead:  Making up for the lackluster Thanksgiving games, we have a pair of great prime time games this week.  Football fans are treated to the Buccaneers at the Saints on Sunday evening, and the Jets at Oakland in what should be a phenomenal Monday night match-up.  As usual, there is a glut of games involving the bevy of teams mired in the muck of the AFC playoff race.  This week we see Miami play at Buffalo, Pittsburgh travel to Jacksonville, and Denver take on San Diego in a huge game in the AFC West.  Over in the NFC, the Rams look to keep their season alive…and will need a win at Philadelphia to do so.  In the only game of significance matching teams from each conference, Tennessee and the NY Giants look to shake off disappointing losses from last weekend when they meet in the Meadowlands.


Around the NCAA


Quest For The Fiesta:  With the Ohio St. Buckeyes now locked into one of the spots in the national championship game in the Fiesta Bowl on January 3rd, the world now waits and watches to see if Miami Fla. can join them by winning at Syracuse this weekend and at home vs. Virginia Tech the following week.  With that in mind, let's take a look at what the other 3 BCS bowl games are shaping up to look like:


Rose Bowl:  Iowa appears locked in, and will face Washington St….provided they win at UCLA next weekend.  If Wazzou falters, the USC Trojans will get in, setting up a showdown between what are possibly the nation's two hottest teams right now.


Orange Bowl:  What a dilemma, and part of the reason the BCS is so horrible.  The Orange Bowl is locked into representation from the ACC champion, who this year is a Florida St. team that could be looking at 5 losses if they fall vs. Florida next week.  In order to atone for the lack of fans and interest the Seminoles will being with them, the Orange will likely be forced to select Notre Dame as their at-large team, even after they get waxed by USC next week, for ratings and ticket sale purposes.  To make matters even worse, the two teams played already this year, with the Irish securing a very unexciting 34-24 win.


Sugar Bowl:  The Sugar Bowl, in all likelihood, will pair the champions of the Big 12 and SEC Championship games.  While Sugar Bowl officials are hoping for a powerful meeting between the Oklahoma Sooners and Georgia Bulldogs to evolve, be assured that they will not be disappointed to see the hometown LSU Tigers spring an upset in the SEC Championship.


Heisman Watch:  Now down to the final weeks of the regular season, it's safe to say that the race for the Heisman trophy is down to the following 8 players, with no clear frontrunner established yet.  Last week's rank is in parenthesis…


  1. Brad Banks, Iowa (2):  McGahee helped his stock with his performance against Pitt, but after having another week to think about it…my vote at this point would go to Banks.  He was so good through the air and on the ground this season, made next to no mistakes, played his best against the best teams, and was the leader of the nation's most surprising team.
  2. Willis McGahee, Miami Fla. (1):  Another big performance from Willis in a big spot for the ‘Canes.  In my opinion, the MVP of this Miami Fla. team and more deserving of the award than Dorsey.
  3. Larry Johnson, Penn St. (7):  Would have loved to seen what he would have done in even 3 quarters of action last week.  Has been simply dominant as of late, but his performance (71 yd./gm avg) against Michigan, Iowa, and Ohio St. may scare away just enough voters.
  4. Carson Palmer, USC (4):  The Palmer surge continues.  Likely has an uphill battle ahead of him, even with a solid effort and win over Notre Dame due to the large number of voters set to vote Banks or Dorsey.
  5. Ken Dorsey, Miami Fla. (6):  I've been a little rough on Dorsey, who is a winner.  After having watched my Buckeyes grit out 13 wins in a row this season, I have the utmost respect for a guy that can commandeer his team to wins in 32 straight games.  Dorsey has stepped up his game when needed this season, but I still feel McGahee has been more valuable.
  6. Quentin Griffin, Oklahoma (9):  A faction is evolving touting Griffin for Heisman, and for good reason.  The little man put the Sooner offense on his back after the early season injury to Jason White, and has gotten better each week.
  7. Chris Brown, Colorado (5):  Needs to play against Nebraska this week to keep his name in the race and help fend off the mad charge LJ from Penn St. is making.  A win this week will also set up a showdown with Oklahoma and Griffin in another chance to impress the voters for both runners.
  8. Jason Gesser, Washington St. (3):  Despite the fact he had the Huskies all but beaten, the injury and subsequent OT loss crippled Gesser's Heisman campaign.  Will need a huge performance in a big win at UCLA, and possibly losses by Carson Palmer and Dorsey, to get himself back in the picture.


FU BCS:  As many of you likely know by this point, I'm not a big fan of the BCS system and am one of many proponents of either an 8 or 16 team playoff system to establish college football's national champion.  Here's my weekly look at what the bracket would look like for a month long 16 team playoff tournament:


#1 Miami Fla. Hurricanes (10-0) vs. #16 Florida St. Seminoles (8-4)

#8 Kansas St. Wildcats (10-2) vs. #9 Texas Longhorns (9-2)


#4 Georgia Bulldogs (10-1) vs. #13 Michigan Wolverines (9-3)

#5 Iowa Hawkeyes (11-1) vs. #12 Penn St. Nittany Lions (9-3)


#3 Oklahoma Sooners (10-1) vs. #14 Colorado Buffaloes (8-3)

#6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-1) vs. #11 Florida Gators (8-3)


#2 Ohio St. Buckeyes (13-0) vs. #15 Colorado St. Rams (10-2)

#7 USC Trojans (9-2) vs. #10 Washington St. Cougars (9-2)


Handicapper's Corner


Ask and you shall receive.  After predicting my breakthrough effort for a couple weeks now, I was able to respond this week with a 6-2 record against the spread in this column last week, as well as a 9-4 day for my Saturday morning update, which continues to sizzle.  On the year, the Saturday update stands at 37-34 in college and 27-22-1 in the NFL.  To be added to the mailing list, e-mail me at swerb@berniesinsiders.com and I'll add ‘ya. 


Underdogs amazingly had another 11-5 week in the NFL.  Here's a rundown of what went down this week, numbers wise, in week 12 of the NFL season, with season totals in parenthesis:


Underdogs:  11-5 (99-72-5)

Road Teams:  8-8 (90-81-5)

Over/Under:  11 games under, 5 over (93 under, 83 over)


And lastly, before I get to my picks, hope that some of you had a chance to check out my boy Chad's free picks this past week at www.sportslynx.com.  He released 7 key plays in both college and the pros and posted winning days on both Saturday and Sunday in addition to delivering the Eagles lock on Monday night.  On to my selections…


NCAA (21-21-2)


Kentucky +9 at Tennessee


I continue to be amazed at the respect odds makers insist on giving to this watered down version of the Volunteers from week to week.  With all the Tennessee injuries, Kentucky is the better football team right now, and has been for the entire season for that matter.  If played on a neutral site, the Wildcats should be giving points in this match-up.  I will gladly take Kentucky +9 Saturday, and if the number stays the same, I love the Wildcats +15 in a teaser against the punchless Tennessee offense.  Take Kentucky.


Wake Forest +13 ½ at Maryland


Maryland's torrid run ran it's course last week and ended in a beating at the hands of Virginia.  This week they come back home to face a Wake Forest team coming off a brutal performance where they barely escaped with a win over Army.  Wake became bowl eligible with that win, but is likely to get shutout for a bid unless they can knock off the Terps this week.  Maryland will be down this week after totally blowing a shot to get to the Orange Bowl last week.  They will go to the same bowl game regardless of the outcome.  Wake has more to play for, will be hungrier, and has a knack for keeping conference games close and within the number.  Take the Demon Deacons.


USC –10 ½ vs. Notre Dame


Simply put, and despite their impressive W-L record, Notre Dame does not have enough punch to contend with a team like USC without the benefit of multiple turnovers and at least one or two defensive scores.  USC is playing scary football and has a possible PAC 10 title, and BCS appearance hanging in the balance.  Sadly, Notre Dame will go to the Orange regardless.  This one could get ugly.  USC is the much better football team.  Take the Trojans to drop the hammer on the Irish.


NFL (18-20-1)


Arizona +9 ½ at Kansas City


As a matter of principle, I cannot help but take 9 ½ points here with the Cards against a team with a defense as poor as the Chiefs.  Many thought they had turned the corner defensively heading into last weeks torching at the hands of the Seahawks lethal defense.  The play I really like here is Arizona +15 and over 40 in a teaser.  But I do like the Cards +9 ½ as one of my plays this week.


Denver –3 at San Diego


I have made a vow to back Mike Shanahan and his Broncos in every game the rest of the way out when coming off of a poor performance.  Shanahan's record ATS coming off a loss is amazing since taking over as coach of the Broncos.  Another week for Steve Beurlein (in better weather) should produce much better results, and Clinton Portis continues to improve each week.  The Chargers are a better team than last season's version that fell apart down the stretch, but the letdown continues this week as the Broncos retake control of the AFC West with a impressive road win this week.


San Francisco –9 vs. Seattle


The Niners coming off an embarrassing beating at by Koy Detmer, the Seahawks come in off their most impressive performance of the season where they posted 39 points in a win over the Chiefs.  San Fran may win this game by 30.  I love the Niners this week in a blowout over a very bad Seattle team that will be feeling a little too good about themselves this week.

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