Early NFL Preseason Breakdown

THE NFL IS BACK

WE BEGIN TO BREAK DOWN WHAT'S STRAIGHT AHEAD THIS PRESEASON ...

THE MID-WEEK BASEBALL REPORT: THE BIGGEST PITCHING "BARGAINS" SINCE THE ALL-STAR BREAK

By Jim Hurley

The record books will show that the NFL Lockout lasted from March 12 to July 25- it only seemed a whole lot longer than 134 days- but the good news is there's football back on the very-near horizon with teams getting into camps this week/weekend and NFL Preseason games ready to crank up beginning Thursday, August 11th with the Seattle Seahawks playing at the San Diego Chargers on ESPN.

To steal a line from New York Jets LB Bart Scott ... "Can't wait!"

No doubt that this NFL Preseason will be unlike any other in memory what with many of the 400-plus free agents having to find new homes and with a batch of new head coaches and their staffs having to get acclimated to their teams ASAP- it's gonna be a major challenge and mark our words that the NFL Preseason games will be more important than in years past because you'll see more starters going deeper into games than ever before and, believe it or not, the won/loss results will be important for many NFL teams trying to bring a "new culture" to their respective organizations.

We'll get to our observations on this year's NFL Preseason in just a moment but remember this:

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers always have thrived with Sides & Totals Winners in NFL Preseason action but now we're really ready to rock Las Vegas big-time in this "Summer of 2011". Jim and Company have been monitoring all 32 NFL teams/coaches and we'll have the head start on everyone else out there and we'll know what NFL Preseason lines are "real" and which ones are "bogus". Plus, make sure to get all the Major-League Baseball Winners too each/every day -- just remember to call the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here and make sure you're all aboard for a summer filled with all our NFL Preseason and MLB winners! The calling/check-in times are after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays; anytime after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday Baseball action; and than anytime after 1 p.m. ET for all the weeknight action in Football and Baseball.
   

THE NFL PRESEASON

Let's dig in with a Q&A checklist of what's really important in terms of handicapping this year's NFL Preseason action:

Q: What NFL teams that "underachieved" in 2010 want to show their fans that the 2011 Preseason has real meaning to them?
A: There's a handful of NFL teams that sagged badly last year that believe a positive Preseason will give the team (and the fan base) something to get excited about and among the squads that fall into this category are the Arizona Cardinals (5-11), the Cincinnati Bengals (4-12), the Dallas Cowboys (6-10), the Houston Texans (6-10) and the Washington Redskins (6-10). Note that all of the above return last year's head coaches and so no doubt they were all busy watching video and taking notes during the recent lockout. P.S., any of the above-named teams that are staying with an incumbent starting quarterback likely needs even more of your "financial attention".

Q: Conversely, what teams with new coaching staffs figures to stagger about this NFL Preseason?
A: No doubt it's important to "change the culture" of sports organizations that lose year-after-year but it's a tall task asking NFL teams that are bringing aboard new coaching staffs to make things happen right after a lockout. Simply put, the coaches and players- and keep in mind every team will probably experience 25 percent turnover (give or take)- don't know each other all that well and so there must be a period of time for acclimation and that period of time figures to be more than a few bad losses in the Preseason.

Note that Carolina head coach Ron Rivera and Tennessee head coach Mike Munchak really have a full plate as their teams tackle this summer's games and so both the Panthers and Titans could find themselves on the short end of some 30-7 type affairs this August.

Q: What veteran QBs (and offenses) figure to play more than usual in these Preseason games?
A: Naturally, none of their respective head coaches have said so but we fully expect the likes of Baltimore QB Joe Flacco and Houston's Matt Schaub to get in extensive playing time in these Preseason games- partly to get used to some new teammates and partly because there's a feeling both slingers need "extra work" before taking on the 16-game regular-season schedule just to get in the proverbial swing of things.

Q: Generally speaking, what else is important while handicapping the upcoming NFL Preseason games?
A: Know what key players won't be seeing all that much time in the Preseason games and quickly we think of the likes of Tennessee RB Chris Johnson, Jacksonville RB Maurice Jones-Drew, Atlanta QB Matt Ryan, Indianapolis QB Peyton Manning and New York Jets CB Darrelle Revis. Don't look for any of these guys to get "burned out" by playing in the Preseason but, than again, know this heading in that these might become instant areas of weaknesses on said squads.

Also, this week's influx of free agents and rookies will made this an uncertain playing field for many (or most) NFL teams but do yourself a favor and read up on what players showed up in good shape and what players have been dogged by injuries/ailments and the like. Jim Hurley and his star-studded staff will be on the ball and knowing all the injuries and game absences but do a little investigative digging on your own and try to discover if a team will be without its top two or three wide receivers or possibly if the club's best pass-rushing lineman is gonna get a rest in a particular Preseason game.

Remember: NFL Preseason knowledge is power.
 

THE MID-WEEK BASEBALL REPORT

Have you been paying extra-close attention to the Major-League Baseball wagering odds since the All-Star Game break (see July 11-12-13)?

The reason we're asking is because there's been a few "bargains" presented when it comes to starting pitchers and so you might wish to check 'em out when these hurlers get their next turn(s) on the hill.

Here's what we mean:

Take San Francisco Giants young lefthander Madison Bumgarner (6-9, 3.56 ERA) who struggled mightily prior to the break but has bounced back after it to produce three consecutive solid efforts. Okay, so maybe Bumgarner's rocky road through the first half of the 2011 MLB season turned you off but any baseball fan worth his salt knows this young slinger has too much talent- too much great stuff- to be kept down-and-out all year long and yet the Vegas odds really undervalued him after the break:

Bumgarner's start on July 14th in San Diego was a pick 'em affair and he pitched well while San Fran won the game 6-2 in 12 innings. One start later- on July 19th at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers- Bumgarner was listed at a modest price of minus 131- and he delivered another strong showing en route to a 5-3 win and than last Sunday (a day before the World Series champion Giants visited the White House) there was Bumgarner allowing one earned run in 7.2 innings en route to a 2-1 win against the visiting Milwaukee Brewers and note the Giants were listed as "even money" for that tilt.

Go back the past three starts and Bumgarner's pitched to a tidy 2.13 ERA with 19 strikeouts in his last 21.2 innings- and you can see for yourself that the good folks in Las Vegas really have not made you "pay" for backing this splendid southpaw. Keep this in mind when Bumgarner gets his next start- likely on Saturday night in Cincinnati.

Now, let's go to the American League and check in on born-again RHP Gavin Floyd (8-9, 4.11 ERA) of the Chicago White Sox: Floyd has 11 quality starts so far this year (out of 19 starts overall) but he was up-and-down in the season's first half as illustrated by his last start before the break (an 8-5 home loss to the Minnesota Twins back on July 8th). Still, Floyd is a rock-solid hurler who eats up innings and always worth a gander when taking a big price and that was the case on July 15th when Floyd and his Chisox were a 2-to-1 underdog at the Detroit Tigers with RHP Justin Verlander on the mound. The Sox won 8-2 and than Floyd followed up that winning effort with a 3-0 triumph at Cleveland last Friday night. Note that Floyd was listed as pick 'em for that win against the Tribe and that was a major bargain considering his prior sterling effort in Motown.

P.S., Floyd might even be a home dog in his next start Friday against the Boston Red Sox- so you have been forewarned!

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