Eagles-Pats Preview & Five Big-12 Questions

THE NFL PRESEASON REPORT

IT'S TIME TO WRAP UP WEEK 2 PLAY WITH TONIGHT'S EAGLES-PATRIOTS TILT PLUS MORE PRESEASON NEWS & NOTES FROM THE STEELERS' LAST-SECOND WIN AGAINST THE COLTS LAST NIGHT …

OUR COLLEGE FOOTBALL COVERAGE ROLLS ON AS WE ASK FIVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BIG 12

By Jim Hurley:

In case you've been wondering -and we know that you have! -than take note following last night's Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers clash, NFL Preseason Betting Favorites stood at 12-18-1 ATS (against the spread) thus far this summer with one more game on this NFL Preseason Week 2 card tonight (see our Philadelphia Eagles at New England Patriots game preview below in today's Jim Sez).

Also, for you totals guys/gals, note that "overs" are 17-14-1 spreadwise so far in these Preseason affairs and so basically no harm, no foul on either side so far if you've gone "over" or "under" every time out.

What we did notice -as forecast some eight or nine days ago right here in this Jim Sez space -is that scoring indeed went up in the second week of preseason action:

Remember we told you that in NFL Preseason Week 1 (and including that Hall of Fame Game win by New Orleans over Arizona) there were a dozen teams that registered 10 points or less in their games (that's 12 of 34 teams in all or better than 35 percent of the clubs) while in Preseason Week 2 action only five of 30 teams (not counting tonight's Eagles-Pats game yet, of course) were limited to 10-or-less points and that's just 16.7 percent of the member teams.

The knee-jerk feeling is that scoring will go up with offensive starters getting more snaps in the NFL Preseason Week 3 contests that begin with a trio of games this Thursday night -that's Green Bay at Cincinnati, Jacksonville at Baltimore and Arizona at Tennessee -but, conversely many teams will be playing their defensive starters for three-or-so quarters here and that could negate some scoring, naturally.

One thing we have noticed so far this summer is that we've witnessed a whole slew of drops -yes, not only Seattle Seahawks WR Terrell Owens who bread-basketed a drop on a sure-shot QB Matt Flynn scoring strike the other night in Seattle's 30-10 win at Denver -but running backs and tight ends along with a crush of wide-outs have not exactly shown good hands so far unless your name happens to be WR Calvin Johnson (Detroit) or maybe Victor Cruz (New York Giants).

Here's a thought:

Maybe these now one-a-day practices in the summertime should include more ball-skill plays instead of everyone just being so zoned in as to where they should be on the field -we call it a case of "over-coaching" this preseason -although we're relatively confident that things will get better before they get worse for ball-catching types in the coming weeks.

Now, here's a look at Monday Night's NFL Preseason Week 2 game:

PHILADELPHIA (1-0) at NEW ENGLAND (1-0) -8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Lots of folks thought that this was gonna be last year's Super Bowl matchup -except the Philly Eagles instead got all caught up in the silly "Dream Team" stuff and never did make it to the post-season.

The here-and-now Eagles are not chirping as they did last August but instead this is a wounded team whose coach and leader Andy Reid recently lost his eldest son and so things have been more on the quiet side in Bethlehem this summer although the aforementioned Reid is telling insiders that last year's season-ending four-game winning streak already has carried over into camp where the NFC East crew actually posted decent team stats including finishing fifth in the NFL in rushing (142.2 yards per game) to go along with a ninth-place standing in pass offense (256.9 ypg) and a tenth place standing in pass defense (212.3 ypg)

Among the what-to-watch items concerning Philadelphia here is the backup quarterback battle that so far is being won by University of Arizona rookie Nick Foles (144 yards passing and two TDs in the 24-23 come-from-behind win against Pittsburgh back on August 9th) who hopes to stay ahead of veteran Mike Kafka here. Plus, let's check out first-round draftee DT Fletcher Cox (Miss State) who had just one tackle against the Steelers in very quiet showing.

On the flip side, the Patriots -who come in off a 7-6 non-cover win against 4-point underdog New Orleans -have some interesting position battles including the one at starting running back as Shane Vereen opened many eyes with his 11-carry, 64-yard rushing performance in that preseason opener and he has the slightest edge right now over Stevan Ridley.

No doubt much interest will be paid here to the developments along the N'England offensive line that remains a work-in-progress these days but pay close attention to second-year OT Nate Solder who will have a lot to say whether or not QB Tom Brady stays on his feet much of this upcoming campaign.
Current Las Vegas Lines: Patriots (- 1) and 41 points

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will continue to bang out NFL Preseason Winners all summer long and so make sure to cash in with tonight's ESPN clash between Philadelphia at New England. Make sure to check in with us on game days either right here online or else at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the College & NFL Regular Season Winners plus get all the daily and nightly Major-League Baseball winners too.

In other NFL Preseason Week 2 News & Notes from Sunday night's game ...

PITTSBURGH 26, INDIANAPOLIS 24 -Forget for a moment how the Steelers frustrated chalk bettors by not scoring a touchdown on three shots inside the five-yard line in the waning moments of this tilt (it was first-and-goal at the two-minute warning, remember) but got the SU (straight-up) win thanks to a PK Danny Hrapmann 22-yard deflected field goal that made it through the uprights -at least if you had "over" 17 points in the second half you were smiling.

Instead, the only real meaningful stuff from this game was how Indianapolis rookie QB Andrew Luck bounced back from his "pick six" (and two INTs in all) to throw for 175 yards while playing the whole first half and looking more and more comfy as time wore on against Steelers' first- and second-stringers.

Luck engineered three separate second-quarter scoring drives and really showed his whole bag of goodies while throwing accurately on the run and making quick decisions on a couple of occasions that kept Pittsburgh defensive backs on their heels. No wonder Colts' first-year head coach Chuck Pagano used the word "maturity" to describe Luck's game and hats off to Indy veteran WR Reggie Wayne who nabbed six balls for 74 yards and looks in instant rapport with his brand-new signal-caller.

Next stop for Luck and the Colts: A road game against -you got it -QB Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins this Saturday afternoon.

THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL UPDATE: WE CHECK OUT FIVE KEY QUESTIONS IN THE BIG 12

In our continuing look at the upcoming 2012 NCAA Football Season, let's examine Five (5) questions regarding the Big 12:

Q: Okay, so besides the Oklahoma vs. Texas showdown on October 13th, what's the single-biggest game on this Big 12 sked?
A: Believe it or not, it's quite possible that the season-ending December 1st tilt between Oklahoma at new Big 12 member TCU could decide who gets the conference's automatic berth in a BCS Bowl Game (and do keep in mind that the Big 12 does not have a conference championship game again because it doesn't have 12-or-more teams). There's a good chance that TCU might have just one league loss while heading into this battle against the OU Sooners and wouldn't that be a kick if a TCU team that was originally supposed to be headed to the Big East instead rose up, won the Big 12 and wound up playing someone like Michigan in this year's Fiesta Bowl? Just sayin'!

Q: Will West Virginia -the Big 12's other new member this year -knock off any of the league's big-name teams?
A: It's quite possible that the WVU Mountaineers -who averaged a haughty 37.6 points per game a year ago -could win at Texas come October 6th (yes, the week before the Oklahoma-Texas game, folks) and beating the aforementioned Sooners in Morgantown on November 17th is also very possible but let's see how the 'Neers fare in a tough league on a week-to-week basis because the former Big East tough guys might get a bit of a comeuppance in this pass-happy conference.

Q: What off-the-radar quarterback in the Big 12 might have a really big year?
A: Hey, should anyone really be surprised if Baylor QB Nick Florence has a bust-out season? The heir to Heisman Trophy-winning Griffin III did start seven of the Bears' final nine games back in 2009 when Griffin was sidelined with a knee injury and pass-happy head coach Art Briles won't pull any punches with the senior Florence who has a big arm and has an abundance of high-quality pass-catchers at hand even if WR Kendall Wright took his game to the NFL.

Q: Who could be a sneaky-good pointspread side from the Big 12 this season?
A: Watch out for Texas Tech. True, the Red Raiders are just a collective 11-13 versus the vig in the first two years of the Tommy Tuberville Era but, after T-Tech missed out on a bowl game for the first time in more than a decade, look for spunkier efforts by the Lubbock lads and home dog dates against the likes of Oklahoma, West Virginia and Texas. The Techsters could be ready/willing/able to cha-ching the cash register with a couple of outright wins possibly tossed into the mix here.

Q: Finally, what coach will impose his game strategy skills the most in big 12 land?
A: Who else but Kansas State's Bill Snyder whose 2011 squad pumped out a 9-4 spread mark that includes -get this -six outright upset wins! Snyder is a master planner but he often times does not get enough credit for his in-game decisions and maneuvers and he's outwitted more than a few Big 12 coaches in the day. Let's just say Snyder is worth at least one point more than any other Big 12 head coach out there (and he might be worth 3-to-5 points over a handful of Big 12 coaches).

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

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