Sunday & Monday's NFL Previews


By Jim Hurley:

It's safe to say that NFL offenses are "behind" the defenses at this early stage of the preseason as there were eight teams that scored single-digit point totals in Week 1 action while heading into Saturday night's clash between Tennessee at Seattle.

Okay, so first-string quarterbacks weren't exactly getting a whole bunch of snaps in those openers but it will be truly interesting to see the summertime adjustments made by the offenses while heading into the NFL Preseason Week 2 games that zoom into action on Thursday when Cincinnati plays at Atlanta and Cleveland invades Green Bay.

Note that through the first 14 preseason games the "over" players were just 5-8-1 ATS (against the spread) and there were 16 NFL teams that registered 17 points-or-less in these 14 games meaning that some 57.1 percent of NFL sides had scored 17 points or less.

C'mon we gotta see things get cranked up, don't we?

Now, here's a look at Sunday's NFL Preseason Week 1 game:

ST. LOUIS at INDIANAPOLIS - 1:30 p.m. ET, NFL Network
If you've happened to come upon any Colts-related previews in recent days than you no doubt have read the word "patience" more than once.

No doubt the Colts are a major work-in-progress these days under first-year head coach Chuck Pagano who may have been a surprise choice for the job in succeeding Jim Caldwell but he's a solid choice with a defensive background and he'll turn over this Luck-led offense to well-respected offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, late of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In this clash inside Lucas Oil Stadium, look for Luck to get in for a quarter-plus while he attempts to gain rapport with veteran wide receivers Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie - but finding out who's the team's No. 3 wide-out could begin to take shape here with WR Donnie Avery very much in the mix and don't forget how Luck loved to throw to his tight ends in college and fellow Stanford grad TE Coby Fleener (the 34th overall choice in last spring's NFL Draft) is, of course, on this Colts roster.

Meanwhile, the Rams have their own "issues" while heading into their preseason opener as they also finished last year a dreary 2-14 SU overall and so no surprise that Steve Spagnuolo was axed after two crummy seasons and long-time Tennessee Titans boss-man Jeff Fisher was brought in to revive this franchise. The Rams need to bone up a rush defense that last year finished next-to-last in the league (they allowed nearly 152 ground yards a game) and it didn't help matters that new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was fired ever before he got going here as a result of that BountyGate bit with the Saints.

If you wish to check out someone in particular on this St. Louis defense here, than eyeball rookie CB Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama) who has impressed Fisher and Company so far in camp - heck, Jenkins claims he plays with a "chip on his shoulder" and we'll see if he gets assigned to WR Wayne here in the early going.

Current Las Vegas Lines: Colts (- 1) and 34 points

We'll get to the one-and-only Monday Night Football game on the menu in just a "sec" but first this key reminder:

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Now, here's a look at Monday Night's NFL Preseason Week 1 game:

Let's take a step back and stop listening to all the drivel coming from the mouth of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones: The guy may be a great "businessman" but he's a major moron when it comes to the great game of football and we're quite sure the ESPN cameras will find him - or he'll find the ESPN cameras - at some point in this preseason clash on the left coast. Great, just what we need!

For the record, the 'Boys very likely will start a center in David Arkin who never snapped for QB Tony Romo - starting C Phil Costa missed Saturday's practice with a lower back injury and is highly questionable for this game in the Bay Area -- and don't forget the other key injury news regarding Dallas as first-round draftee CB Morris Claiborne (LSU) finally returned to practice after missing a week with a sprained left knee.

No doubt that lack of depth was a major problem for last year's Cowboys club that wound up 8-8 SU (straight-up) and on the outside looking in at a playoff berth.

Note that the Raiders, meanwhile, will be getting a taste of action under new rookie head coach Dennis Allen and the former Denver Broncos' defensive coordinator will be taking a long look at fourth-round draftee LB Miles Burris (San Diego State) who has been filling in for an injured Aaron Curry in training camp. The Raiders - who also finished 8-8 SU a year ago after dropping four of its final five regular-season games under Hue Jackson - ranked 27th in the league in pass defense in 2011 (while yielding 251.4 yards per game) and so we'll see if the interior of the Raiders pass rush can haunt the aforementioned Arkin here as that could mean a short work night for Mr. Romo. Current Las Vegas Lines: Raiders (- 1) and 35 points

In other NFL Preseason Week 1 News & Notes ...

Do the Arizona Cardinals have reason to be concerned about this starting defense?

For the second preseason game in a row, the Redbirds surrendered an opposing touchdown on the opening drive as Kansas City marched 72 yards in 12 plays capped by an 11-yard scoring strike from QB Matt Cassel-to-RB Peyton Hillis but what really should gall Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt is that 'Zona allowed another TD on the next KayCee drive (see four plays for 72 yards capped by RB Shaun Draughn's four-yard run). The NFC West crew was supposed to sport a rock-solid "D" this year - one that could rival anyone in the division - but instead this has been a major mess thus far and how about the fact Arizona QB Kevin Kolb didn't exactly distinguish himself with a 1-of-5 passing night? ...

Finally, speaking of the NFC West the San Francisco 49ers rushed for an eye-popping 260 yards in their 17-6 win/cover against 3-point road underdog Minnesota last Friday night and - in case you were wondering - free-agent RB Brandon Jacobs carried the ball four times for 31 yards including a 23-yard jaunt.

Just wondering if the New York Giants - who truly tired of Jacobs' big mouth and lack of short-yardage production - still might not be missing him come December as the Niners would love to get 15-to-18 carries a game from him while the Super Bowl champ Jints just ain't all that sure they'll get that from starter RB Ahmad Bradshaw.

NOTE: There's more NFL News & Notes from this 2012 Preseason in the next edition of Jim Sez.


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