What To look For Early In The NFL Season
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What To look For Early In The NFL Season
As we continue to preach, off season research is of enormous consequence to sports handicapping, but one must be more than adaptable enough to adjust as the season progresses.
With that in mind, here are some early probable edges we have on our radar screen, yet subject to change as the facts guide us.
Quarterbacks facing burden of higher expectations
Cam Newton proved to be the rule rather than the exception. Last year he demonstrated to be a great go-against following up a splendid debut.
One of our Golden Rules of Gambling is that it is easier to be the hunter than the hunted. Quarterbacks who we anticipate to have negative spread records based on that theory: Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III (though his injury recovery warrants more monitoring), Colin Kaepernick, and Russell Wilson.
Eagles will struggle early, but may improve rapidly
One who has often puts his neck out on the line, yet I did use the qualifier "may improve." This is a great example of my how my position must evolve with the evidence.
Whether or not Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly will make a successful transition to the NFL is highly debatable. Under the best possible scenario, there will be growing pains. This is exacerbated by the fact he is pass happy and his quarterback situation is highly questionable. The secondary is revamped and his front seven stars are better suited for a 4-3 rather than the 3-4 Kelly will likely utilize.
Matt Barkley will take over as starting QB before the year is out. Expect Philly to struggle early, lose value, and then play its best football of the year when the undervalued-signal caller takes over.
Fall in and out of love with Buffalo
The Bills are certainly not the only team breaking in a new coaching staff. However, the roster and scheme upheaval is as much as any team in recent years.
Anticipate them to take the preseason very seriously, build up false expectations, and fall flat once the regular season starts.
Green Bay will run a lot in preseason
We preach time and time again, handicapping totals is much more about pace than offense and defensive competence. The Packers are set at QB, but have a deep group of RBs battling for roster spots.
Expect a lot more ball control than usual from them in the exhibition games.
False hope in Arizona
Sure Carson Palmer is the best QB the Cardinals have had since Kurt Warner retired, but that is like being the tallest midget in the circus. Like Jeff George, Palmer can keep changing his uniform, yet he still remains grossly overrated.
With little talent at running back, look for their offensive line to get scapegoated for a terrible offense. However, Larry Fitzgerald is without question the one bright spot. Watch for Arizona to be feast or famine. The Cardinals will get points off the big play, but will be grossly inconsistent, continually putting the defense back on the field.
Titans worst or first
Tennessee running back Chris Johnson was materializing to be the poster child of how NFL running backs shelf lives are getting shorter thanks to the speed and physicality of the game. Frankly, he astonished us finding the fountain of youth late in the season.
His QB, Jake Locker, has Aaron Rogers-like tools, but has come up short in his first two years. Johnson and Locker have such a high upside and downside. I will be paying very close attention to my trusted sources in Tennessee to monitor the progress of those two significant players.
Betting against Pittsburgh like "steeling"
The Steelers are alleged to be one of the most well run teams in sports. Yet, QB Ben Roethlisberger is on a steep decline and the defense has three key players who are at least 32 years or older - Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor, and Ryan Clark. Little depth is on defense.
It will be a good year to bet against them.
Barely scratching the surface, the above list represents a fraction of several pages of bullet points, with updates in constant progress. As the training camps begin, we'll know more.
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