Hall of Fame Game Review + Dodgers-Angels Preview
THE NFL HALL OF FAME GAME IN REVIEW—
GIANTS TOP BILLS 17-13 AS WE (FINALLY) GET
THE PRESEASON JUMP-STARTED…
PLUS THE COLLEGE GRIDIRON REPORT:
IT’S TIME TO CATCH UP WITH THE COUNTRY’S MAJOR INDEPENDENTS…
BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES:
GET READY FOR SOME FREEWAY FUN AS DODGERS-ANGELS SET FOR A HUGE FOUR-GAME SERIES IN LA-LA LAND
By Jim Hurley
The National Football League— very much in the news these days but off the playing field since this past February 2nd (see Seattle 43, Denver 8 in one of the worst Super Bowls in modern memory!)— made a splashy return on Sunday night when the New York Giants held off the Buffalo Bills 17-13 in the annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton… but before you go off half-cocked keep in mind that last year the Dallas Cowboys beat the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2013 Hall of Fame Game and the former didn’t even make the playoffs while the latter was one-and-done in the post-season.
Still, the 3 ½-point underdog Giants surprised plenty of folks by playing QB Eli Manning (6-of-7 passing for 43 yards with one lost fumble on a sack) on three different first-quarter offensive possessions and the dormant NY ground game looked pretty perky while rushing for 121 yards overall with rookie RB Andre Williams from Boston College (see 7 carries for 48 yards and 1 TD) looking spry against the albeit second-string defense of the Bills.
On the flip side, for all the pre-game yak-yak regarding this hefty Buffalo offensive line, the unit looked ordinary at best and QBs E.J. Manuel, Jeff Tuel and Thad Lewis posted “phony stats” as they combined to complete 24-of-40 passes for 180 yards, but please note the two interceptions (including one drive-killing theft in the end zone).
Okay, so there’s never all that much to glean from the performances of the two teams in the annual NFL Hall of Fame Game, but the early returns tell us this:
the Giants are just not the Giants on offense without slot receiver Victor Cruz (no catches, no targets) and the Bills— again— appear destined to yet another non-playoff season, and if we’re Buffalo head coach Doug Marrone we’re worrying about our D-line too and not just the fact the Bills might well be heading off to Toronto (for good) one of these years after new management takes over the show.
Take note that the Giants will play their next preseason game this Saturday at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers; the Bills will play at Carolina come Friday night.
Folks, Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers want to welcome you to the start of the 2014 Football Season.
It all began with Sunday’s annual Hall of Fame Game between the Giants versus the Bills, but remember now there’s another four weeks of money-making NFL Preseason Games that get revved up beginning Thursday Night (six games on that evening’s docket) plus the College Football campaign swings into high gear later in the month with a full weekend card scheduled for Thursday, August 28th through Monday, September 1st.
Also, take note that America’s #1 Handicapper continues to bang out lots of winners in Major-League Baseball these days and all you need to do is check in either right here online at www.jimhurley.com or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 any time after 1 p.m. Eastern time for the weeknight action, after 11 a.m. ET for weekday games and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday/Sunday/Holiday Winners and get all the Football & Baseball winners … can’t beat that, right?
The NFL Preseason, the start of the College Football year and Baseball action too— always a major money-making time of the year for the Jim Hurley Network!
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THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT:
TIME TO CHECK OUT THE MAJOR INDEPENDENTS
Okay, so the Jim Sez reports have delved into the SEC and the ACC in recent days— now let’s turn our attention today to the Five (5) Major Independent teams that play FBS ball.
Folks, that’s Notre Dame, Army, Navy, BYU and new-kid-on-the-block Charlotte (note the latter was not on the Las Vegas betting board and thus not part of our accompanying chart below):
Naturally, the team that garners the lion’s share of the attention here is the Notre Dame Fighting Irish— even though those good folks in the desert currently list the South Bend squad as just 75-to-1 to win it all this year.
No doubt the Irish become a wild-card team of sorts when discussing the return of QB Everett Golson, who missed all of last season for academic reasons— without ‘em the Notre Dame offense sputtered and stalled more times than not, although note Brian Kelly’s club did average a hefty 6.1 yards per offensive play and averaged 27.2 points a game but ND scored 21 points or less in five different games (the Irish went 2-2-1 spreadwise in those five games, folks).
And if you watched Notre Dame’s 29-16 win against 14 ½-point underdog Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl last December then you know scoring from inside the red zone was a major problem.
Golson may not solve all of Notre Dame’s offensive woes this year, but his versatility and ability to avoid big sack plays will be important— but if you wish to cast an eye on some other key offensive player for Notre Dame this season then go ahead and check out WR DaVaris Daniels, who nabbed 49 balls worth 745 yards (a 15.2 ypc average) to go along with 7 touchdowns in 2013.
If the Golson-to-Daniels combo can be a “home run hitter-type” tandem than maybe Notre Dame— coming off a 9-4 SU (straight-up) and underwhelming 5-7-1 ATS (against the spread) season—can pull off a shocker or two against the likes of road foes Florida State, Arizona State and/or USC.
INDEPENDENTS SPREAD STANDINGS (2013)
Folks, let’s take a step back and see what the Major Independent teams did last year spreadwise with their overall pointspread marks listed below…
The footnote here is that Navy’s scintillating spread season a year ago featured a four-game spread winning streak to conclude the campaign (including a 24-6 walkover win/cover against 7-point underdog Middle Tennessee State in the Armed Forces Bowl) and a spiffy 5-1 ATS mark whenever in the point-grabbing role and note that included outright wins against 11½-point fav Indiana and 4½-point fav Pittsburgh plus that near-miss 38-34 loss-but-cover versus 17-point home favorite Notre Dame.
On the flip side, Army staggered down the stretch while failing to cover four of its final five games in all and the Black Knights on the Hudson wound up failing to cover six of their seven away games including the 34-7 loss against 14-point favorite archrival Navy.
THE BASEBALL UPDATE:
FREEWAY SERIES SET TO STEAL THE HEADLINES IN SO CAL
Now, who’s gonna complain about Interleague play in August when it pits the Los Angeles Angels versus the Los Angeles Dodgers for four games in a row?
The baseball schedule-maker may have gotten lucky here but no matter— this Angels-Dodgers week (that’s two games at Dodger Stadium on Monday/Tuesday followed by two games in Anaheim on Wednesday/Thursday) figures to be a blast and don’t look now but these are the second- and fifth-best MLB teams at this very moment when you check the won/loss records as the Angels (66-44) are playing .600 ball while the Dodgers are sitting atop the National League West despite just dropping two-of-three at home against the lowly Chicago Cubs with a 63-49 mark while playing .562 ball— only the Oakland A’s (67-43, .609) are better than these Halos and so no wonder this much-hyped “Freeway Series” has everyone excited from Vin Scully to Danny DeVito to the “Rally Monkey” himself!
Here’s the scheduled pitching matchups beginning with the first two games at Dodger Stadium…
Angels RHP Garrett Richards (11-4, 2.74 ERA and 1.04 WHIP) vs. Dodgers RHP Zack Greinke (12-6, 2.65 ERA and 1.16 WHIP)
On Tuesday night, it’s…
Angels LHP Hector Santiago (3.76 ERA and 1.25 WHIP) vs. Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw (13-2, 1.71 ERA and 0.82 WHIP)
On Wednesday night in Anaheim, it’s…
Dodgers RHP Dan Haren (8-9, 4.76 ERA and 1.34 WHIP) at Angels RHP Matt Shoemaker (9-3, 4.09 ERA and 1.24 WHIP
Finally, on Thursday night it’s…
Dodgers LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (12-5, 3.39 ERA and 1.22 WHIP) at LHP C.J. Wilson (8-7, 4.74 ERA and 1.39 WHIP)
The Angels and Dodgers simply don’t like one another and both would love to wreck the week of the other guy— let’s see if this winds up being “splitsville” over the span of these four games or might one of these Freeway guys pull a sweeperoo? Stay tuned.
NOTE: More NFL Camp News & Notes plus NCAA Football goodies too in the next edition of Jim Sez!
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