NFL Pre-Season Week 3 Preview

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Okay, so we even have to admit right about now:

We will be happy when there is an 18-game NFL regular season (more on that subject shortly) and there are only Two (2) Preseason Games per team.

The fact of the matter is this 2010 NFL Preseason will -- for all intents and purposes -- be over by Sunday night when the Pittsburgh Steelers battle the Denver Broncos in the Mile High City 'cause the NFL Preseason Week #4 games mean nothing. And hats off to the league for having all of those games being played this Thursday night so all the players have a couple of extra days to heal up before the start of the regular season -- and then it's 'go time'!

Much to discuss in/around the NFL as we draw nearer to the Sept. 9th Kickoff Game between the Minnesota Vikings at the New Orleans Saints and we'll tackle a batch of topics plus get you a 'preview' of Steelers-Broncos but first this key reminder:

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you all the NFL Winners (that's Sides & Totals, of course) plus all the NCAA Football and Major-League Baseball Winners too when you either call the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or else when you log online at each and every day.

In fact, sign up today and get in on Jim's discount price for the whole season -- get all the NFL and College Football Regular-Season Winners -- and make sure you're in the winner's circle with us every week!

Important Note: The check-in times are after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday afternoon Baseball Games; anytime after 1 p.m. ET for all the NFL, NCAA and MLB weeknight games; and then anytime after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays. And keep that in mind 'cause there are Two (2) College Football Games slated for Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 6th) as Maryland tangles with next-door neighbor Navy while Boise State bucks heads with Virginia Tech in a monster matchup right out of the starting gate.

In fact, here's the day-by-day breakdown of the College Football Games the first week of play:

Thursday, Sept. 2nd -- There are Seven (7) on-the-board tilts including the ESPN doubleheader featuring Southern Miss at South Carolina followed by USC at Hawaii;
Friday, Sept. 3rd -- Only One (1) College Game as Arizona travels to Toledo for a prime-time affair;
Saturday, Sept. 4th -- Count 'em up and there are 27 College Games on the board this calendar day including a slew of TV tilts such as Illinois vs. Missouri (Fox Sports Net), Purdue at Notre Dame (NBC) and North Carolina vs. LSU (ABC);
Sunday, Sept. 5th: There's Two (2) games here including the matinee tilt with Tulsa at East Carolina (2 p.m. ET espn2) and the later afternoon game featuring SMU at Texas Tech (3:30 p.m. on ESPN);
Monday, Sept. 6th -- The first full week of the College Football Season concludes with the aforementioned Maryland-Navy and Boise State-Virginia Tech clashes.

So, your College Football plate will be full next week/weekend and make sure you're a big part of all the fun-and-profits!


Here's the Sunday matchup in NFL Preseason Week #3 action:

PITTSBURGH (2-0) at DENVER (0-2) -- 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Are the Steelers 'whistling past the graveyard' these days while knowing QB Ben Roethlisberger won't be part of their team for at least the first four games of the 2010 regular season?

No doubt the AFC North crew has been business as usual in the first two Preseason games -- Roethlisberger didn't play at all in the 23-7 rain-battered win against Detroit back on August 14th but did play the first quarter last Saturday night in that 24-17 win against the host New York Giants -- and here you can expect more snaps for expected Week #1 starter Byron Leftwich who completed half of his six pass attempts for 95 yards and one TD in the latest Preseason 'W'.

Leftwich and third-stringer-turned-backup Dennis Dixon (7-of-8 passing for 82 yards plus five carries for 27 yards against NYG) here will look to attack a Denver defense that's allowed 33 and 25 points so far in the Preseason in respective losses to Cincinnati and Detroit and we'll see if the Steelers slingers pick on rookie CB Perish Cox who started last week against the Lions for an injured Champ Bailey (arm). It's believed that Cox has a shot to become Denver's starter at nickel back if he can perform well again here.

Finally, what would a Broncos' report be without a word or two on rookie QB Tim Tebow?

The one-time Heisman Trophy winner has missed some practice time the past couple of weeks with rib woes suffered on that game-ending TD run in Cincinnati on August 15th and right now he remains engaged in a fight with Brady Quinn for the #2 spot behind starter Kyle Orton. It's possible that Tebow could secure the #2 spot 'by default' because Quinn's been shaky and may not get in for more than a few snaps here as Broncos' boss-man Josh McDaniels plans on going with his starters for about three quarters against Pittsburgh.


Let's go 'round the league and get in some thoughts on NFL Key Topics:

# 1 -- THE PROPOSED 18-GAME REGULAR-SEASON SCHEDULE -- You heard the news this week that the NFL would like to have an 18-game regular season in place by the time the 2012 campaign rolls around and count us among the folks not all that hyped ... at first. Yes, we considered the extra injury factors from the added games and how backups could wind up deciding more key games than usual but than the thought of having to endure 4-game Preseasons (and 5 games for those teams that play in the annual Hall of Fame Game) plus it dawned on us that everyone would financially benefit from this new arrangement (you can bet the players are gonna get a chunk more money than they are now!) and we went from 'nay' to 'ay'.

# 2 -- THE DARRELLE REVIS HOLDOUT -- Suffice to say this has become the biggest sports story in New York City (yes, bigger than the Yankees trying to track down championship #28) and yet all reports this week claimed the two sides were not even talking. All we have to do is say shame on both of 'em:

Shame on Revis for not upholding his end of the contract; shame on the J-E-T-S for 'shaking down' their fans for big money seat licenses/tickets and then telling 'em the team's best player might never set foot on the field in 2010.

Whatta disgrace -- plus we're really sick-and-tired of hearing the whole mess!

# 3 -- MINNESOTA'S WIDE OUT WOES -- Okay, so the Vikings addressed this area of concern with two separate moves this week including the acquisition of WR Greg Camarillo from the Miami Dolphins for CB Benny Sapp (the Vikes also inked one-time Green Bay/Denver WR Javon Walker earlier in the week) but no Sidney Rice till mid-season at the earliest (see hip surgery) and the possibility that Percy Harvin's well-documented migraine headaches could pop up anytime could leave QB Brett Favre high-and-dry even with the arrival of Camarillo and Walker. P.S., it's not exactly an 'even deal' if you wish to look at it that way.

#4 -- THE DREADED BACK-TO-BACK ROAD GAMES TO START OFF THE SEASON -- This year there are three NFL teams that have to play their first two regular-season games on the road as Arizona (at St. Louis and then at Atlanta), Baltimore (at New York Jets and then at Cincinnati) and Miami (at Buffalo and then at Minnesota) all won't get to play at home till Week #3.

But, hey, why cry about it as a couple of them -- we won't name names -- have bellyached to the NFL office?

Why not get angry and win both of the season-opening road games and then have a real head start on everyone else? Heck, it wouldn't shock us if the Ravens won at the New Meadowlands Stadium and then at Cincy in the first two weeks of play and wouldn't that really crank up the heat then on AFC North rival Pittsburgh!


Note that all of the Associated Press Top 10 nationally-ranked College Football Teams are in action during the first week/weekend of play and so let's take a few moments to examine what's straight ahead -- and what these elite teams need to worry about:

#1 ALABAMA -- The defending national champs could sleepwalk through this opener next Saturday against multi-TD underdog San Jose State but fiery head coach Nick Saban might have to work extra hard to keep his club focused on this tilt what with a showdown against Penn State on tap.

#2 OHIO STATE -- The Buckeyes right now are listed as four-TD betting favorites against visiting Marshall on Thursday night but might the kids from Columbus also be looking ahead from the get-go with mighty Miami on deck? The 'Eyes have plenty of pop on offense (and 10 starters back on that side of the football) but Jim Tressel's team did have its moments of bogging down last year.

#3 BOISE STATE -- Now that the Broncos are starting a season in upper echelon status, the bulls-eye is squarely on them and laying points against Virginia Tech (in Landover) could be really risky stuff for B-State bettors. As far as the team goes, the O-line better protect immobile QB Kellen Moore or it could be sack party for the Hokies here.

#4 FLORIDA -- The Gators are entering this current campaign with a major chip on their shoulder pads and that might be a good thing for Urban Meyer's club but keep in mind that this is an extremely young team and there could be some breakdowns in the secondary and along the offensive line and so you might want to be a little careful about laying a five-TD price here against Miami-Ohio.

#5 TEXAS -- Is it possible that this year's Longhorns are 'flying beneath the radar screen'? Maybe that's the case but Texas is a full four-TD favorite against Rice next Saturday in a game to be played at Reliant Stadium in Houston and should the 'Horns consider it a given that QB Garrett Gilbert will be great? Hey, not so fast, my friends.

#6 TCU -- It's good to see the Horned Frogs among the sport's elite to start a season but that could be the twist here as Gary Patterson's guys are used to being the hunter and now they're the hunted with two-TD dog Oregon State quite capable of putting up lots of points on any opposing defense. This clash on Labor Day Saturday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington could be a closer-than-they-think special should State RB 'Quizz' Rodgers find enough seams in this TCU defense. Stay tuned.

#7 OKLAHOMA -- It's been a long time since the Sooners started off a season not ranked #1, #2 or #3 in the opening polls and so maybe the heat's off a bit for Bob Stoops' crew but this Big 12 team is very much in the mode of Alabama and Ohio State who have big-name opponents on deck as OU's got Florida State coming into Norman on Sept. 11th. Note that the 'Boomer Sooners' are a 32-point betting fav against Utah State in Saturday's opener and the Aggies did play BYU, Texas A&M and Utah tight last year.

#8 NEBRASKA -- Okay, so we don't think the Cornhuskers will be getting hot-and-bothered when playing five-TD dog Western Kentucky (see 0-12 record last year) but it would be nice to see Big Red succeed in the red zone and not rely so much on ace kicker Alex Henery.

#9 IOWA -- The 'showdown' next Saturday with off-the-board foe Eastern Illinois will be close until you hear the words 'home of the brave'.

#10 VIRGINIA TECH -- If the Hokies are gonna snag the ever-so-mild upset against aforementioned Boise State than time of possession will be key as the Techsters need to wear down the front seven of the Broncos' defense ... or else. Plus, while the Virginia Tech special teams gets all the attention, Frank Beamer's guys better be sure that they don't have a punt blocked or a kick returned for a score here.

NOTE: Get all our NFL Preseason Week #3 News/Notes plus more College Football in the next edition of Jim Sez.


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