Browns-’Skins Preview + Big 12 Breakdown

THE NFL PRESEASON WEEK 2 UPDATE:
WE PREVIEW TONIGHT’S BROWNS-‘SKINS BASH PLUS A QUICKIE RECAP OF THE WEEKEND ACTION…

OUR COLLEGE FOOTBALL GRIDIRON REPORT:
THE BIG 12 TAKES CENTER STAGE AND WE’RE WARNING Y’ALL ABOUT #20 KANSAS STATE

By Jim Hurley

Hope you all haven’t had your fill of “Johnny Football” because tonight’s Cleveland Browns at Washington Redskins game will get you more about Browns’ rookie QB Johnny Manziel than you could ever possibly have hoped… we might even find out this evening what is Manziel’s all-time favorite movie!

The fact of the matter is Manziel-mania (that’s what they have been calling it in Cleveland for a while now) continues to sweep through this sports-crazed city but get a load of this:

There actually could be a scenario following tonight’s game where co-No. 1 starter Brian Hoyer loses his job to Manziel and then gets traded to the… Houston Texans.

It’s been an Internet story that’s growing momentum—remember Houston’s first-year head coach Bill O’Brien might indeed look to import his one-time New England Patriots’ slinger for that starting post with the Texans.

So, we’ll see if Hoyer raises his game or whether he shrinks in the spotlight under the spell of Manziel-mania.

CLEVELAND at WASHINGTON—8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Okay, so there is more to this NFL Preseason Week 2 tilt than just the quarterback “controversy” brewing with the Browns and one thing we’ll be eyeballing from the Redskins’ side of things is how will Washington back-up QB Kirk Cousins perform here in a quarter-or-so of game action.

Keep in mind the Browns attempted to trade for Cousins on Draft Night this past May (the fourth-round offer was quickly rejected) and here Cousins will be playing against former ‘Skins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who now is the Cleveland play-caller for Hoyer, Manziel and others while Cousins is looking to show he’s a capable replacement should starter Robert Griffin, III go down.

In other NFL Preseason Week 2 action on Sunday, it was…
DENVER 34, SAN FRANCISCO 0—In case you’re keeping track, the 49ers have scored a grand total of three points in their Preseason-opening losses to Baltimore and the Broncos and San Fran QB Colin Kaepernick was getting “picked on” again following this clash after throwing for only 39 yards (he completed 5-of-9 passes in all) but shouldn’t Niner head coach Jim Harbaugh also have some concern about a receiving corps that is showing no explosiveness at wide out and so it should not all fall at Kaepernick’s feet!

In last Saturday’s NFL Preseason action, it was…
NEW YORK JETS 25, CINCINNATI 17—Don’t let the 2-and-oh start by the J-E-T-S fool you one bit:
In this road win at the 3-point favorite Bengals, the way-over-the-top hyped NYJ defense allowed Cincy QB Andy Dalton a stat line that read 8-of-8 completions for 144 yards and one touchdown (a picturesque/beautiful 43-yard scoring strike to WR Mohamed Sanu) and a perfect passer rating of 158.3.

Okay, so the Jets’ depleted secondary was starting S Antonio Allen at one cornerback spot— he surrendered three completions worth 69 yards to Bengals star wide-out A.J. Green—and Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan couldn’t have thought things were gonna be rosy but here with less than three weeks away from opening day and the team that didn’t re-sign CB Antonio Cromartie and didn’t chase down CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has some major secondary woes.

Now what, Rexy?

MINNESOTA 30, ARIZONA 28—Are the Vikings really entertaining thoughts of starting rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater over the razor-sharp Matt Cassel when we get to NFL Week 1 action?

Okay, no question Bridgewater is the no-doubt-about-it future of this NFC North crew but tough to knock Cassel’s play so far this summer in a 10-6 win/cover against Oakland (he was 5-of-6 for 62 yards with one sack versus the silver-and-black) and this loss-but-cover against the Cardinals.

Cassel finished this Preseason Week 2 tilt with 12-of-16 completions for 153 yards and one TD plus no sacks/no INTs but Bridgewater’s fancy 16-of-20, 177-yard, two-TD, no-INT stat line had Minny fans wooing after this clash.

Even Vikings veteran WR Greg Jennings shouted “Teddy’s world” as he headed off the field in Minnesota and so you start to surmise Bridgewater could have a solid Preseason Week 3 game at Kansas City this Saturday and he’ll be named the starter.

One side note here:

Cassel performed with the starters; Bridgewater’s time was mixed with first- and second-teamers. We say it’s still advantage Cassel but we could get “overruled” in the coming days.

In other NFL Preseason Week 2 News/Notes…
Tough loss for the St. Louis Rams as RB Isaiah Pead tore the ACL in his left knee in last Saturday’s 21-7 home loss to 2½-point dog Green Bay.

Pead was injured at the end of a 33-yard kickoff return against the Pack and so fourth-round draft pick RB Tre Mason just became a bit more important in the team’s scheme of things…

Finally, what would an NFL Preseason weekend roundup be without a few words on the continual woes of New York Giants QB Eli Manning, who completed zero passes in a Preseason Week 1 game against Pittsburgh and this past Saturday night completed 1-of-7 passes for 6 yards—no wonder Manning had that beleaguered look on his face for the remainder of the Giants’ come-from-way-way-behind 27-26 win at 1 ½-point fav Indianapolis?

The new West Coast offense installed by first-year offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo continues to be a “work in progress” that’s really not progressing and gotta feeling we could hear veteran head coach Tom Coughlin let loose this week and McAdoo, Manning and others (see the team’s spotty wide receivers) could well be hearing the wrath of the two-time Super Bowl champion coach.

And now hear this…

This year’s NFL Preseason is in full flight now as this week we’re gearing up for the so-called “dress rehearsal” games—Week 3 arrives on Thursday Night when the Pittsburgh Steelers battle the host Philadelphia Eagles and then there’s Five (5) games on the Friday Night card including the CBS bash between Oakland at Green Bay, plus the Eight (8) games on Saturday featuring the CBS showdown between New Orleans at Indianapolis and then the Preseason Week 3 games are capped with this Sunday’s pair of tilts—that’s San Diego at San Francisco on Fox and Cincinnati at Arizona on NBC at 4 and 8 p.m. ET, respectively.

Of course, first things first and that means the NFL Preseason Week 2 finally wraps up tonight with the game between Johnny Manziel’s Cleveland Browns at the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football on ESPN.

The College Football campaign swings into high gear next week with a full week/weekend card scheduled for Thursday, August 28th through Monday, September 1st.

You definitely want to be in the winner’s circle for all the big opening-week games with the college games as Texas A&M battles South Carolina on Thursday, Aug. 28, it’s BYU at UConn among other key tilts on Friday, Aug. 29th and a jam-packed Labor Day weekend card features Clemson-Georgia on Saturday, Aug. 30th and Miami at Louisville on Monday, Sept. 1.

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?

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THE COLLEGE GRIDIRON REPORT:
THE BIG 12
The Associated Press Top 25 came out Sunday and—as you might have noticed—there were a pair of Big 12 teams listed among the top 10 with Oklahoma at #4 and Baylor at #10, but something tells us the Big 12 team ranked #20 will be a really big story this year.

No. 20 Kansas State is always a “live item” to win it all with venerable head coach Bill Snyder running the show and this year the QB/WR combo of Jake Waters and Tyler Lockett could make major noise for a team that normally prefers to run the football and chew up clock/yards that way.

We’ve seen some mention that Kansas State is “overrated” but check out the Wildcats’ schedule and you’ll note that they host national champ runner-up Auburn on Thursday, Sept. 18th (that’s 12 days to prep for this game) and only a road game at mighty Oklahoma is the only other thing keeping the K-State ‘Cats from a possible 10-1 SU (straight-up) start.

Maybe the aforementioned Snyder bags another Big 12 Coach of the Year award or maybe Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops and Company wins it all and he gets those honors but the fact of the matter is the kids from the “Little Apple” in Manhattan have a great shot to write history this fall and what would you do to have a Kansas State vs. Alabama or K-State vs. Oregon clash in the CFP (College Football Playoffs) this winter? Yummy!

BIG 12 SPREAD STANDINGS (2013)
Folks, let’s take a step back and see what the Big 12 teams did last year spreadwise with overall and conference pointspread marks listed below…

TEAMOVERALLPCTCONFERENCEPCT
Baylor9-4-0.6927-2-0.778
Kansas St.8-5-0.6156-3-0.667
Oklahoma8-5-0.615 4-5-0.444
Okla. St.8-5-0.6156-3-0.667
Iowa St.6-6-0.5005-4-0.556
Texas6-7-0.4625-4-0.556
Texas Tech 6-7-0.4623-6-0.333
Kansas4-8-0.3334-5-0.444
TCU4-8-0.3333-6-0.333
W. Virginia3-9-0.2503-6-0.333

Big 12 Pointspread Notes—Maybe no great surprise that last year the Big 12 champion Baylor Bears ruled the roost with a .692 overall winning rate among teams in this 10-team league and note the Waco crew was a Big 12-best 7-2 versus the vig in conference play but the semi-shocker had to be West Virginia’s rotten 3-9 ATS (against the spread) mark in Year Two of this conference as Dana Holgorsen’s squad was a crummy 0-3 ATS as Big 12 betting favorites and even failed to cover the bloated 30-point Las Vegas price at Baylor back on Oct. 5th as the Bears prevailed by 31… that was Baylor 73, West Virginia 42.

NOTE: Lots of NFL Preseason Week 3 News & Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez.

18
Nov

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