Rookie Quarterbacks and Surging Royals

THE NFL PRESEASON WEEK 1 IS NOW
IN THE BOOKS (AND WE WENT 6-2!), BUT WE’LL CHEW ON A
COUPLE OF THE WEEKEND’S HOT TOPICS
IN TODAY’S EDITION OF JIM SEZ (ARE YOU READY FOR MORE JOHNNY FOOTBALL TALK?)…

THE BASEBALL NOTEBOOK:
CAN THE SURGING ROYALS WIN THE AL CENTRAL AFTER ALL?

By Jim Hurley

True or False…

There were other rookie quarterbacks in action in NFL Preseason Week 1 whose names were not “Johnny Football”.

Answer: Quite true!

Hey, we know that Mr. Manziel of the Cleveland Browns has been an off-the-charts star for the folks at ESPN and the NFL Network but maybe—just maybe—someone out there in media-land can level the playing field a bit and give some other first-year slingers some analysis (good or bad) and so that’s one major intention we have in this beginning-of-the-week "Jim Sez" article.

So, let’s not waste any more of your valuable summer time…

Here’s some quick-hitter comments on—of course—Johnny Manziel and some other rookie quarterbacks in the league where they play for pay and we’ll handle this in their respective draft order:

BLAKE BORTLES, JACKSONVILLE—The NFL’s third overall draft choice this past May completed 7-of-11 passes worth 117 and led a second-half field-goal drive in the Jaguars’ 16-10 win/cover against 3-point underdog Tampa Bay.

Okay, there was—as Bortles put it afterwards—“some good stuff, some bad stuff, things that I’ve got to overcome”—but gotta tell you we liked the fact he didn’t flinch after a late-hit foul against the Bucs defense and he showed nice touch on his first-ever NFL completion—a 24-yard toss to WR Allen Hurns and overall Bortles probably showed the Jags as much as they could have hoped for here in his professional debut.
Remember there is literally no chance that Bortles will start this year as 35-year-old career backup Chad Henne takes over the starting role for the Jaguars but Bortles gets a major thumbs up for his opening night. Onward and upward!

JOHNNY MANZIEL—The Browns’ second selection in Round One (and 22nd overall) answered the pre-game hype machine that had been percolating all week long as the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M was solid… and a whole heckuva lot of fun to watch.

Manziel’s final numbers read like this:

Like Bortles, he completed 7-of-11 passes overall but for just 63 yards while Manziel added a team-best 27 yards rushing on six carries and that 16-yard run-then-slide play really got the folks in Detroit jazzed up in the Lions’ 13-12 win as 1½-point home underdogs.

Manziel didn’t lead the Browns to any points but that wasn’t all his fault as RB Dion Lewis lost a fumble inside the Detroit 30-yard line on one Manziel-led march.

Maybe Manziel inched a little closer to the #1 role here—starter Brian Hoyer (6-of-14 passing for 92 yards) admitted after the game that he could have been sharper with some high throws but give Hoyer credit for not falling into any media trap—he simply uttered the mantra that he could only worry about his own play and said he’s just rooting for the Browns to be the best team they can be no matter who starts at quarterback.

Gut feeling: If Manziel can get the Browns some points as a starter in next Monday’s prime-time game at Washington and Hoyer can’t hit on at least 60 percent of his passes working (most likely) against a second-team Redskins’ defense, than Johnny Football will be threatening hot-and-heavy to be the starter come Week 1 at Pittsburgh.

TEDDY BRIDGEWATER, MINNESOTA—The final pick in Round One of May’s NFL Draft cracked the proverbial seal on his pro career in last Friday’s 10-6 win/cover by the 3½-point favored Vikings over visiting Oakland.

Bridgewater had something a bit different to contend with when compared to fellow rookie first-rounders Bortles and Manziel… he had a starting slinger march down the field on his first drive for a touchdown and thus it made the Louisville rook have to play “catch-up” for the #1 role right away.

Veteran Matt Cassel was super-sharp in this preseason tilt as he completed 5-of-6 aerials for 62 yards in a 10-play, 70-yard march capped by a one-yard scoring burst by RB Matt Asiata.

So, by the time Bridgewater entered the game to the rhythmic chants of the home-town fans, he had to accept the fact Cassel was darn near perfect in his only offensive series of the night and then Bridgewater showed a few rookie “warts” en route to a pedestrian 6-of-13, 49-yard game that also included a pair of sacks worth 16 yards.

Bridgewater also fumbled—the Vikings recovered it—but afterwards the new slinger didn’t hang his head although he did bemoan some “missed opportunities”

Here’s a pointspread note or two to pass along after a full week—plus the NFL Hall of Fame Game—and this is NFL Preseason Betting Favorites exited play at 9-6-1 ATS (against the spread) for a .600 winning rate and do keep in mind that a pair of Saturday night games—that’s Cleveland at Detroit and Houston at Arizona “switched” favorite sides in the hours or minutes leading up to those affairs:

Cleveland went from a 2½-point underdog in the opening line to a 1½-point road betting favorite and lost 13-12; meanwhile, Houston was a 3-point opening-price dog for its game in Arizona and wound up a 1½-point road fav and then proceeded to get bashed 32-0.
So much for those two “late line moves”, right?

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Lastly, the NFL Preseason “Under” players have been scorching-hot thus far as 13-4 ATS (a .765 winning rate) and how about the fact that 13 teams scored 13 points or less in these preseason tilts with all four of Saturday night’s games going “under”… here’s the chart proof from that night:

GAME TOTALS PRICEFINAL SCORE
Cleveland at Detroit40.5Detroit 13-12
Pittsburgh at NY Giants 37NY Giants 20-16
Green Bay at Tennessee38.5Tennessee 20-16
Houston at Arizona37Arizona 32-0

Extra, extra …

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 the annual Hall of Fame Game back on August 3rd, (and we've gone 6-2 so far), but remember now there’s still another three full weeks of money-making NFL Preseason Games straight ahead and it continues to rev up beginning Thursday night when the Jacksonville Jaguars battle the Chicago Bears on ESPN.

It then rolls on with Four (4) games on Friday featuring Philadelphia at New England and San Diego at Seattle—and then there’s Eight (8) more games on Saturday including Baltimore at Dallas, Two (2) games Sunday including the prime-time Fox telecast between Kansas City at Carolina and then Preseason Week 2 wraps up with that aforementioned game between Manziel’s Cleveland Browns at Washington next Monday Night on ESPN.

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!

THE BASEBALL REPORT: THE ROARING ROYALS
Here’s a bit of trivia that should not get lost on anyone that calls him/herself a fan of the Kansas City Royals:

The team’s latest long winning streak—now at seven in a row following the home weekend sweep of the San Francisco Giants—makes this the first season since 1985 in which KayCee’s boasted winning streaks of 7-or-more games twice in a year.

The American League club won 10 in a row in June, remember—and you have to go all the way back to that great ‘85 season to find the last time that happened and we all know what happened in the bigs back then, right?

The Royals’ latest successful streak included that straights sets win against the SF Giants —that’s 4-2, 5-0 and 7-4 in case you’re scoring at home—and the Sunday win moved Kansas City (63-53) to one-half game behind the Detroit Tigers (63-52) in the AL Central and—we know you all love this—if the season ended today the Royals would be playing the one-game wild card playoff at the Los Angeles Angels.

Guess we’re not gonna be so quick to bury Kansas City anytime soon—yes, we’ve been saying all summer long how the Tigers have been “toying” with the rest of the AL Central but all of a sudden the Motowners are losing back-to-back extra-inning games in Toronto and not getting all that much pop from this so-called vaunted lineup or hadn’t you noticed the Tigers have scored a grand total of 18 runs in their last seven games at the New York Yankees and at Toronto…

So maybe KC can pass ‘em right on by in this crazy division and so maybe an expected Tigers versus Oakland A’s showdown in the ALCS is no foregone conclusion after all… correct?

NOTE: Get NFL Preseason Week 2 Previews all this week right here at Jim Sez.

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