Week 2 Friday Night Games and College Football News/Notes (August 16, 2013)

METS (+135) DEFEAT PADRES 4-1, GIVING BLUE RIBBON BASEBALL ANOTHER BIG-TIME WINNER!!!

THE NFL PRESEASON WEEK 2 SKED ROLLS ON –

WE DELVE INTO A PAIR OF FRIDAY NIGHT GAMES

(THAT’S TAMPA BAY AT NEW ENGLAND ON FOX

PLUS SAN FRANCISCO AT KANSAS CITY) …

AND THERE’S MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS/NOTES:

CHECKIN’ OUT THE SPREAD SLIDERS AT THE END OF THE 2012 SEASON

AND WHAT THESE TEAMS FACE AT THE START OF 2013

By Jim Hurley

Talk about a different version of “Hard Knocks”!

No, we’re not talking up the Cincinnati Bengals – the star of this summer’s real Hard Knocks show that so far has revealed (among other things) that NFL teams worth millions and millions of dollars sometimes practice on ant-hole filled out-of-state shabby fields and even have to cross a busy street to get to their own practice field in Cincinnati that only appears to be lodged between a couple of the city’s busiest highways!

The “hard knocks” we refer to here at the start of this football-filled “Jim Sez” column has to do with mega-star New England Patriots QB Tom Brady who may or may not have suffered a serious leg/knee injury in his team’s Wednesday practice session when apparently OT Nate Solder fell into Brady after being shoved backwards at the tail-end of a pass play.

Suffice to say, if Brady is out for any great length of time – and we can’t blame Patriots fans for thinking about 2008 when the franchise quarterback missed the whole year after getting injured on the same knee in a Week One game against Kansas City – than the whole complexion of the AFC changes faster than you can say Babe Parilli!

The immediate word is that Brady suffered a knee sprain and would be “fine”, but keep in mind we’ll offer up our Brady-related thoughts in the days ahead and we’ll get to his team’s Friday night game in Foxboro in just a moment but first this ultra-important message...

My veteran Handicappers and Bloggers and I will bring you a bunch of summertime winners with NFL Preseason Sides & Totals Winners now and through the next three weeks.

Remember there’s NFL Preseason Week 2 games all week/weekend long beginning with the Thursday quartet of games, plus there’s four more NFL Preseason Week 2 games on Friday, six more games on Saturday including a late afternoon showdown between Dallas at Arizona (a 4:30 p.m. ET kickoff), and then there are “stand-alone” single games Sunday evening (that’s Indianapolis at the New York Giants on Fox) and Monday Night (that’s Pittsburgh at Washington on ESPN).

So make sure you hook up with me, Jim Hurley -- America’s #1 Handicapper who comes off a sizzling 6-2 Preseason Week 1 spate of games that included pointspread wins by Detroit over the New York Jets and Carolina over Chicago.

Plus make sure you cash in with loads of Major-League Baseball Winners too as we’ve been raging hot ever since last month’s All-Star Game.

Check with us right here online at www.jimhurley.com or call toll-free telephone at 1-800-323-4453 after 1 p.m. Eastern time for weeknight NFL and MLB action, after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday Baseball games and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday/Sunday/Holiday Football/Baseball Winners.

Got it?

Onto NFL Preseason Week 2 action on Friday Night…

TAMPA BAY (0-1) at NEW ENGLAND (1-0) – 8 p.m. ET, Fox

Okay, so nobody should be expecting to see Brady play here even if he’s deemed healthy – although you never know in Patriots-land -- so expect head coach Bill Belichick to take another long look at his club’s born-again ground game that last week opened up the 31-22 never-in-doubt win at Philadelphia with a six-carry, no-pass, 80-yard drive for a touchdown. Okay, so the first snap from center turned into a rollicking 62-yard run by Patriots RB Stevan Ridley (8 carries for 92 yards against the Eagles) who later capped the march with a one-yard scoring run, but keep eyes on bullish RB LaGarrette Blount, who finished with 11 carries worth 101 yards and two TDs against Philly – he could be a not-so-secret weapon for the Pats by the time we get to the Week One showdown at Buffalo.

SAN FRANCISCO (0-1) at KANSAS CITY (0-1) – 8 p.m. ET

Mark it down: The defending NFC champion SF 49ers are not exactly gonna be hell-bent on winning this year’s exhibition games. Head coach Jim Harbaugh wants his core players to remain healthy and probably the team’s biggest priority this month is to find out what the receiving corps is gonna look like without injured WR Michael Crabtree (and remember last year’s Niners finished 23rd in the NFL in passing offense at just 206.1 aerial yards per game).

On the flip side, the KayCee Chiefs – fresh off a 2-14 season and run now by former 14-year Eagles’ sideline boss Andy Reid – has a lot to sort out these days including what happens if star RB Jamaal Charles does miss time with his sprained foot injury. Keep in mind last week’s leading rusher for KC in that 17-13 loss at New Orleans was none other than backup QB Chase Daniel (one carry for 14 yards)... ugh!

COLLEGE FOOTBALL POINTSPREAD NOTEBOOK

Okay, so here’s a little College Football refresher as in what teams ended last year on a rotten pointspread run... here’s our little list:

AIR FORCE crashed-and-burned late in the 2012 season while failing to cover its final five games and that included the 33-14 loss to 2-point dog Rice in the most recent edition of the Armed Forces Bowl. Note the Fly Boys will open this upcoming campaign with a September 7th home tilt against the Utah State Aggies.

CALIFORNIA also concluded its ’12 campaign on a five-game pointspread losing skid– just one of the reasons why the Pac-12 school gave Jeff Tedford his walking papers after 11 years in Berkeley – as the Bears lost late-season games by 22, 42 and 48 points (to Utah, Oregon and Oregon State, respectively). The Golden Bears now are listed as a 5 ½-point home underdog against Northwestern for their August 31st opener on the left coast.

DUKE may be one of the country’s better academic institutions but it didn’t take someone with a Master’s Degree to know the 2012 team skid badly at year’s end with five consecutive season-ending spread setbacks. It’s interesting to note that the Dookies will play four of their first five games this year at home in Durham but they do open with a road game in Memphis on September 7th.

LOUISIANA TECH – Interestingly enough, last year’s L-Tech Bulldogs started off the season 5-1-1 ATS (against the spread) but wound up 5-6-1 spread-wise after staggering late with a five-game ATS losing streak that included failed favorite attempts against New Mexico State, UT-San Antonio and Texas State.

NAVY – Here’s yet another NCAA team that finished last year with five straight spread setbacks as the Midshipmen did a major belly-flop with the 17-13 non-cover win against 7-point underdog Army among those money-burning games. Note that Navy’s at Indiana for its opener on September 7th and the Middies play four of their first five games on the road with trips to Western Kentucky, Duke and Toledo. Bring your dress whites, guys!

SOUTH ALABAMA finished last season on a dreadful five-game spread losing streak and what’s interesting to note here is the Jaguars were point-grabbers in each/every one of these five games

TEXAS TECH – The Red Raiders’ backers were swimming in red ink late last year when this Big 12 team failed to cover its final six games in a row and that included the 34-31 non-cover win against two-TD pup Minnesota in a Meineke Car Care Bowl. Keep in mind that the Techsters – coached these days by former QB Kliff Kingsbury – opens up this 2013 season with a Friday night (August 30th) game at SMU that will be televised by ESPN. Texas Tech only plays two games in the month of September: There’s home tilts against TCU on Thursday, September 12th and then versus Texas State on September 21. Hmmm...

 

THERE’S MORE NFL PRESEASON WEEK 2 ACTION –

AND HERE IS A LOOK AT THREE (3) SATURDAY TILTS

THAT GO BACK-TO-BACK-TO-BACK ON THE NFL NETWORK

ALONG WITH A QUICKIE RE-CAP OF THURSDAY NITE AS WE HAIL THE BROWNIES …

PLUS THERE’S MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS/NOTES:

A COUPLE OF ROOKIE HEAD COACHES WITH THEIR HANDS FULL COME OPENING WEEK (THAT’S AUG. 29-SEPT. 2)

The Cleveland Browns are wondering... can’t these Preseason games count?

The AFC North crew rolled up the evening’s most lopsided win in last night’s quartet of NFL Preseason Week 2 games with that 24-6 home triumph against 1 ½-point underdog Detroit and never mind that the NFL Network studio trio of Scott Hanson, Steve Mariucci and Hall of Famer Warren Sapp were practically drooling over pass/catch combo of Browns’ QB Brandon Weeden to TE Jordan Cameron (they combined for a pair of aerial scores covering 10 and 5 yards) as the “real story” is just how sharp overall this Cleveland club looks these days.

Last week it was a crisp 27-19 win against St. Louis, and Weeden (8-of-12 passing for 117 yards and those two TDs) and Cameron (three catches for 42 yards and the two scores) were brilliant, but so was the team’s offensive line starring LT Joe Thomas. That defense was pretty good too even though it helped matters that the Lions played here without superstar WR Calvin Johnson who sat this one out with a bruised knee.

No doubt much of the summertime talk in/around the AFC North has centered on defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore and the Ravens’ heavy personnel losses (yes, they’re also 2-0 this preseason) and the Cincinnati Bengals who are starring on HBO’s Hard Knocks these days – but might these woe-be-gone Browns be a force to be reckoned with this year?

Right now you could can take home $7500 on a $100 wager to win it all – now raise your hand if you’re tempted to take a plunge!

And now hear this …

My veteran Handicappers and Bloggers and I will bring you a bunch of summertime winners with NFL Preseason Sides & Totals Winners now and through the next three weeks.

Remember there’s NFL Preseason Week 2 games all week/weekend long beginning with four NFL Preseason Week 2 games on the Friday schedule, six more games on Saturday, and then those “stand-alone” single games Sunday evening (that’s Indianapolis at the New York Giants on Fox) and Monday Night (that’s Pittsburgh at Washington on ESPN).

So make sure you hook up with me, Jim Hurley -- America’s #1 Handicapper who comes off a sizzling 6-2 Preseason Week 1 spate of games that included pointspread wins by Detroit over the New York Jets and Carolina over Chicago.

Plus, make sure you cash in with loads of Major-League Baseball Winners, too, as we’ve been raging hot ever since last month’s All-Star Game.

Check with us right here online at www.jimhurley.com or call toll-free 1-800-323-4453 after 1 p.m. Eastern time for weeknight NFL and MLB action, after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday Baseball games and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday/Sunday/Holiday Football/Baseball Winners.

Got it?

Onto NFL Preseason Week 2 action on Saturday...

DALLAS (1-1) at ARIZONA (1-0) – 4:30 p.m. ET, NFL Network

The Cowboys embark on their third preseason game this summer and – all of a sudden – there’s some major storylines making the rounds including the one about WR Dez Bryant possibly being utilized at times as a punt returner.

Dallas head coach Jason Garrett won’t rule out that possibility, even though he claims Dwayne Harris remains the team’s No. 1 punt returner. Note that Bryant “could get a little bit of work” here on special teams while trying to bring a bit more explosiveness to a ‘Boys team that last year didn’t get enough bang for its buck on kick/punt returns.

Meanwhile, the host Cardinals – fresh off last weekend’s 17-0 win at Lambeau Field against the punch-less Green Bay Packers – claim the team’s running back situation is getting better with RB Rashard Mendenhall ready to play here and rookie RB Andre Ellington set to bounce back from a concussion. Keep in mind last year’s Redbirds ranked dead-last in the NFL in rushing while averaging a paltry 75.2 rushing yards a game.

JACKSONVILLE (0-1) at NEW YORK JETS (0-1) – 7:30 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Word came down from “on high” Thursday morning that QB Mark Sanchez would start this game after J-E-T-S head coach Rex Ryan proclaimed rookie QB Geno Smith was “brutal” in his Wednesday practice with four INTs.

Hey, coach, still think it was a wise decision to practice Smith the past few days with his bum right ankle?

No doubt the Jets’ so-called brain trust had been angling for ways to start Smith come the season-opening game against Tampa Bay on September 8th but now – a potential injury to Sanchez notwithstanding – that appears all but shot and so the key elements to this exhibition game remain the following:

Will Sanchez continue to build on last week’s 10-of-13, 125-yard, 1-TD showing in that 26-17 loss at Detroit – all of which followed a rotten game-starting pick-six thrown by the four-year starter – and will the Jets get anything from a receiving corps that’s starting to look like it will be without malinger WR Santonio Holmes through the early portion of the regular season?

On the flip side, Jacksonville – which last season ranked 29th on offense and 30th in defense – claims RB Maurice Jones-Drew will make an appearance here after not having played an NFL game since last October (Lisfranc injury) and insiders say Jones-Drew will play two offensive series at most here.

DENVER (1-0) at SEATTLE (1-0) – 10 p.m. ET, NFL Network

The once-upon-a-time rivals in the old AFC West collide in the Emerald City and it’ll be interesting to see how often Broncos’ QB Peyton Manning “tests” this vaunted Seahawks' secondary in just a quarter or quarter-and-change of action – CBs Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner will get chirpy if they pick off one of than game’s all-time greats, but maybe Manning also should keep his head on that proverbial swivel against a defense that led the league in sacks last year and will be going up against a battered and short-handed Denver O-line.

Just sayin’!

COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS & NOTES

In case you lost track, there were 30 – that’s right, count ‘em – coaching changes made in the FBS head coaching world following last season and we’ll be paying close attention to what happens in their opening week/weekend games from Thursday August 29th through Monday, September 2nd but let’s take a quick-hitter look at two first-year head coaches who figure to have their hands full in their opening game as chalk-eaters:

KLIFF KINGSBURY, Texas Tech – The Red Raiders swing into action with their home-town hero from Lubbock and TT’s laying a near-TD price in a Friday night tilt on ESPN (August 30th). No doubt Kingsbury is a hot commodity after serving as the “brains” behind Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel last year en route to his Heisman Trophy season but now here comes an instant test against an albeit rebuilding SMU team that has played in four consecutive bowl games.

If the 33-year-old Kingsbury – who threw a whopping 95 touchdowns for Texas Tech in his career (see 1998-2002) – can work magic with soph QB Michael Brewer than the Red Raiders might be a scoring machine again this year but this opener in Pony Land could be real dicey. Does veteran head coach June Jones “teach” Kingsbury a lesson here?

BRET BIELEMA, Arkansas – Lots of folks inside the college football world raised their eyebrows last December when this seven-year coach at Wisconsin said “bye-bye” to the Big 10 and stepped into the SEC while trying to lend stability to a program now on its third head coach in as many years (see Bobby Petrino and John L. Smith) and now the challenge comes at Bielema right away as this August 31st opener against visiting UL-Lafayette doesn’t figure to be a breeze... even though the all-knowing Las Vegas oddsmakers have placed the host Hogs as 11-point betting favorites.

After all, there’s much to sort out regarding this here-and-now Arkansas team -- maybe Bielema (68-24 at Wisconsin) was a rock-solid boss in Madison, but does his club have the speed and defensive secondary to slow down a Lafayette team that averaged better than 25 points a game in Sun Belt action last year and gets QB Terrance Broadway back to run the show one year he accounted for 3,611 offensive yards?

No mistaking it: This was a good/solid hire by Arkansas but Game No. 1 could be problematic. Pig sooey!

Now, here’s a complete look at how college football head coaches in their first year at their new school fared in their openers in 2012. Note that first-year head coaches registered a 13-14 ATS (against the spread) mark overall in their debuts a year ago (a .481 winning rate overall) but did you notice that first-year head coaches in the favorite’s role went a respectable 8-8 versus the vig – it used to be that betting against first-time head coaches in the chalk role was a “gimme” but last year’s crowd held their own:

Akron Terry Bowden L UCF (- 24.5) 56, Akron 14
Arizona Rich Rodriguez L Arizona (- 10) 24, Toledo 17 (ot)
Arizona State Todd Graham W ASU (- 26.5) 63,Northern Arizona 6
Arkansas John L. Smith L Arkansas (- 41.5) 49, Jacksonville State 24
Arkansas State Gus Malzahn W Oregon (- 37.5) 57, Arkansas State 34
Colorado State Jim McElwain W Colorado State (+ 6.5) 22, Colorado 17
Florida Atlantic Carl Pelini L Florida Atlantic (- 17) 7, Wagner 3
Fresno State Tim DeRuyter W Fresno State (- 21) 37, Weber State 10
Hawaii Norm Chow W USC (- 43) 49, Hawaii 10
Illinois Tim Beckman W Illinois (- 10) 24, Western Michigan 7
Kansas Charlie Weis L Kansas (- 23) 31, South Dakota State 17
Memphis Justin Fuente L Tennessee-Martin (+ 9.5) 20, Memphis 17
New Mexico Bob Davie W New Mexico (- 25) 66, Southern 21
North Carolina Larry Fedora W North Carolina (- 32.5) 62, Elon 0
Ohio State Urban Meyer W Ohio State (- 26.5) 56, Miami-Ohio 10
Ole Miss Hugh Freeze W Ole Miss (- 20.5) 49, Central Arkansas 27
Penn State Bill O’Brien L Ohio (+ 6) 24, Penn State 14
Pittsburgh Paul Chryst L Youngstown State (+ 18.5) 31, Pittsburgh 17
Rutgers Kyle Flood L Rutgers (- 19.5) 24, Tulane 12
Southern Miss Ellis Johnson L Nebraska (- 20.5) 49, Southern Miss 20
Texas A&M Kevin Sumlin L Florida (- 1.5) 20, Texas A&M 17
Toledo Matt Campbell W Arizona (- 10) 24, Toledo 17 (ot)
Tulane Curtis Johnson W Rutgers (- 19.5) 24, Tulane 12
UAB Garrick McGee L Troy (- 6) 39, UAB 29

NOTE: We’ll get you Sunday’s NFL Preseason Week 2 tilt – that’s the evening game between the Indianapolis Colts at the New York Giants – plus much more in the next edition of “Jim Sez”.

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