Thursday Preseason Previews and Big East Questions

THE NFL PRESEASON MID-WEEK REPORT

CRUNCHING SOME OF THE POINTSPREAD NUMBERS THIS SUMMER PLUS SNEAK PEEKS AT THURSDAY'S THREE (3) GAMES

THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL UPDATE ASKS FIVE (5) KEY QUESTIONS OF THIS YEAR'S BIG EAST

By Jim Hurley:

Okay, so what do the Arizona Cardinals, Washington Redskins, New England Patriots, Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets and those Hard Knocks Miami Dolphins all have in common while heading into the NFL Preseason Week 3 schedule?

None of the above has yet to cover a preseason game pointspread so far!

This eight-team list is a collective 0-16-1 ATS (against the spread) - note that Arizona is 0-3 versus the vig so far this summertime while the Steelers are 0-1-1 spreadwise while everyone else is 0-2 vig-wise - and while this won't exactly rattle the cages of many of these NFL teams the fact of the matter is some of the clubs named here do have reason to be concerned as a batch of these teams have experienced major offensive woes (see the J-E-T-S and Fish, to name just a couple).

So, it'll be extremely interesting to find out which of these winless spread sides steps it up in these key "dress rehearsal"Preseason Week 3 affairs that run this week/weekend from Thursday night right thru Sunday night.

Meanwhile, here's how the NFL Preseason Week-by-Week breakdown looks spreadwise:

PRE WK #

FAVS

OVERS

HOF Game

1-0-0

0-1-0

Pre #1

6-9-1

7-8-1

Pre #2

6-9-0

11-5-0

Note that NFL Preseason Betting Favorites are a collective 13-18-1 ATS thus far (a .419 winning rate) while "over"players - coming off that we-told-you-so higher-scoring Preseason Week 2 - are a composite 18-14-1 spreadwise (a .563 winning percentage). So, crunch that!

We'll give sneak peek looks at the three (3) Thursday games in just a moment plus we'll get to our latest NCAA Football 5-Question update as we examine this year's Big East.

First, this key reminder as we draw nearer to the start of the 2012 NFL and NCAA Football Seasons - yes, the college kids swing into play for real next Thursday, August 30th with some key games including the ESPN tilt between South Carolina at Vanderbilt plus the ESPN night-cap tilt between Washington State at BYU:

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will continue to bang out the NFL Preseason Winners this summer and so make sure to cash in with all the Preseason Week 3 action beginning with Thursday's games in Cincinnati, Baltimore and Tennessee and remember you can sign up now for all the 2012 action ... so don't delay! 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 NFL Preseason Winners, the upcoming NCAA Football Games plus get all the daily and nightly Major-League Baseball winners too.

Here's what is on the NFL Preseason Week 3 Thursday night menu:

GREEN BAY (0-2) at CINCINNATI (2-0) - 7 p.m. ET
No doubt this preseason has "meant more"to the Bengals than to the GB Packers as Cincinnati is hungry to string together back-to-back playoff seasons and QB Andy Dalton sure quieted folks last week with that 50-yaard scoring strike to wide-out A.J. Green - guess he does have some arm strength, after all! The Packers - quite predictably - have shown zero sense of urgency in this preseason one year after winning 15 regular-season games but it nonetheless will be interesting to see if head coach Mike McCarthy goes beyond the first half with his starters here (he never usually does in the third preseason game) -- and one fun side note here is that former Bengals RB Cedric Benson will suit up for Green Bay and he should get a handful of carries.

JACKSONVILLE (2-0) at BALTIMORE (1-1) - 7:30 p.m. ET
The Jags have been one of the really interesting teams to follow so far this summer as second-year slinger Blaine Gabbert (13-of-16 for 112 yards passing with two TDs and no INTs in last Friday's 27-24 win at 6 ½-point favorite New Orleans) has looked razor-sharp and it sure helps to have a dynamic playmaker on your side as rookie WR Justin Blackmon snared a 16-yard scoring strike against the Saints and finished that tilt with four receptions worth 48 yards. Keep a close eye here on the Gabbert-to-Blackmon duo as the Ravens' heady defense figures to give these kids some different looks and we want to see how the former Mizzou slinger handles the occasional "corner blitz".

ARIZONA (1-2) at TENNESSEE (1-1) - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Now that Titans head coach Mike Munchak has declared second-year QB Jake Locker as his starter for the team's season-opening game against New England on September 9th you have to wonder why this "competition"with vet Matt Hasselbeck didn't go deeper into the summer (as Munchak claimed it would just a few short days ago). Maybe if Locker being tabbed the starter was more about the fact Tennessee's O-line these days is in total disarray - the kid has a better shot at surviving back there than does Hasselbeck especially with his scrambling skills, you know! No matter who's quarterbacking the Titans, their biggest in-game star this summer has been RB/KR Darius Reynaud who scored a pair of touchdowns against Seattle back in Preseason Week 1 action and than followed that up last week with a 39-yard run and a 42-yard kickoff return in last week's 30-7 win at Tampa Bay. Hey, there's more NFL Preseason Week 3 thumbnail previews in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez.

 

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

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

Q: Both Louisville and South Florida are considered the cream of the Big East Conference crop this year but might someone else slip through and win this league (and grab the automatic BCS bowl berth that somehow still goes with the title)?
A: Odds are that this crown will be decided when Louisville hosts South Florida on October 20th but if there's a "dark horse"team that could swipe the league honors than check out the Cincinnati Bearcats who could really rise if the team's passing game improves (ranked 78th nationally a year ago) as there's dynamite speed on Cincy's side and special teams could win the 'Cats a game or two as well.

Q: What team needs to make a post-season bowl game ... or else?
A: The South Florida Bulls had their five-year bowl streak snapped last year en route to a sour 5-7 SU (straight-up) season and third-year boss-man Skip Holtz has been given the decree to get to the bowl season or maybe he'll walk the plank. Note that the USF Bulls must play Big East Conference road games this year at Temple, Louisville and Cincinnati and note there's a non-league road tilt thrown into the mix against the Miami Hurricanes on November 17th.

Q: Who figures to be the Big East's biggest/best downfield threats this year?
A: Keep a close eye on Cincinnati WR Anthony McClung who averaged 13.9 yards a catch on his 49 receptions a year ago and Syracuse WR Alec Lemon who hauled in 68 passes and averaged 12.3 yards a pop in 2011. Both McClung and Lemon could be getting more deep balls thrown their way should the respective offensive lines be able to block for that extra split-second and word has it both Cincy and the 'Cuse feel a need to go more vertical this year - we'll see.

Q: What defensive player could be a real head-turner this season inside the Big East?
A: No question that Rutgers OLB Khaseem Greene - fresh off a 141-tackle season (including 74 solo stops) -- is generally considered to be the best defensive player in the eight-team Big East and he could be a serious candidate for a few post-season awards this year but also let's keep tabs on Louisville safety Hakeem Smith who is a big-time hitter but must make some picks this year after the U of L Cardinal secondary swiped just seven enemy aerials last season.

Q: Okay, so what might shock Big East football fans this 2012 campaign?
A: Call us crazy but we see the potential for the Louisville Cardinals to have one of those great undefeated runs right out of the starting gate. The Cards are home for their first three games this year - Kentucky and North Carolina sandwich a gimme against Missouri State - and than it's back-to-back-to-back road tilts but the 'Ville is capable of winning 'em all at FIU, Southern Miss and than, after a bye week, at Pittsburgh. If the Redbirds run the gauntlet here in those three roadies, than it's three more consecutive home games (versus South Florida, Cincinnati and Temple) and so no wonder folks singing the praises of third-year head coach Charlie Strong say this could be a 9-and-oh team by early November.

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

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