NFL Pre-Season Week 3 Update and College Questions

THE NFL PRESEASON REPORT:

SHOULD THE STILL-WINLESS TEAMS THIS SUMMER BE FRETTING AS WE GET CLOSER TO THE “REAL GAMES”?…
PLUS NFL NEWS & NOTES: THE ST. LOO SAGA—NO QB BRADFORD (AGAIN!)…

THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK:
THE BIGGEST STORYLINES AS WE HEAD TO THURSDAY’S SEASON OPENERS

By Jim Hurley

It was a year ago to the very day and we wondered if “it means nothing at all”, but there were a total of five NFL teams that had not yet won a game while heading into Preseason Week 4—and wouldn’t you know it but all five of those teams (that’s Minnesota, Jacksonville, St. Louis, Atlanta and Pittsburgh) all failed to make the 2013 NFL Playoffs:

So, a quick look at the here-and-now NFL Preseason “standings” shows you that Dallas, Indianapolis and Cleveland each enters Thursday’s NFL Preseason Week 4 wrap-up games without a single/solitary SU (straight-up) win this summer, and so you wonder if very recent history is gonna repeat itself. Hmmm.

Meanwhile, don’t exactly get all excited when it comes to the 4-0 mark of the New York Giants and/or the 3-and-oh Minny Vikings.

The fact of the matter is the Giants—save for one late first-half two-minute drill score directed by QB Eli Manning the other night at MetLife Stadium—have been downright awful offensively this summer, although it was good to see the Manning-to-WR Victor Cruz combo come alive a bit (the G-men silenced lots of critics with a short completion between the two on NYG’s first offensive play in last Friday’s 35-24 win against the 3-point “home” favorite New York Jets).

As far as the Vikes go, hey, good for them that rookie head coach Mike Zimmer’s team has played hard this summer while outscoring their first three foes 70-to-46— first-year slinger Teddy Bridgewater aired a pair of scoring strikes within moments of one another to TE Allen Reisner in Minnesota’s 30-12 win at steamy Kansas City this past Saturday night—but this NFC North team has taken these preseason games a whole heckuva lot more seriously than the likes of the Chiefs and the Arizona Cardinals and the Oakland Raiders… just sayin’.

Granted, you never can tell what a team’s preseason record actually will mean come the start of the regular season but one New York tabloid writer called this the “ugliest” unbeaten preseason team in Giants history—so there!

And now hear this…

As you well know, the College Football 2014 campaign swings into high gear with a full week/weekend card scheduled for this Thursday right through Labor Day.

Folks, you definitely want to be in the winner’s circle for all the big opening-week tilts with the college games starting with Texas A&M versus South Carolina (a 6 p.m. ET kickoff) this Thursday and then on Friday it’s BYU at UConn among other key tilts followed by a jam-packed Labor Day weekend card featuring Clemson-Georgia on Saturday and Miami at Louisville on Monday evening.

And the NFL Preseason—as we discussed here—wraps up Thursday night with all 32 teams in action…

Take note that Jim Hurley -- America’s #1 Handicapper—also continues to bang out lots of winners in Major-League Baseball these days and all you need to do to win in the NFL, NCAA Football and MLB is to 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… can’t beat that, right?

The NFL Preseason, the start of the College Football campaign and then Baseball action too—it’s always a major money-making time of the year for the Jim Hurley Network so why not join in on all the fun-and-profits right now!

NFL NEWS & NOTES
Maybe the St. Louis Rams would like to press the button—not the panic button, but the way-back button and let’s go back to the summer of 1999.

Who could ever forget the emotional—is there any other?—Dick Vermeil telling media folks following a Rams’ preseason game that his team will “rally around” QB Kurt Warner when it was discovered that then-starting QB Trent Green will miss the year with a knee injury.

Fast forward to the Summer of 2014 and there’s current Rams’ head coach Jeff Fisher letting folks know that starting QB Sam Bradford is gone for the year after suffering his second torn ACL injury in as many years—remember he missed nine games a year ago—and now the $64,000 question is can anybody now be this year’s “Kurt Warner” in St. Louis?

Okay, so that’s a tall order indeed and no surprise that the “usual suspects” have been discussed as a potential trade partners as the Washington Redskins have quality backup QB Kirk Cousins and the Philadelphia Eagles may or may not shop veteran Mark Sanchez.

The bottom line is if the Rams—who were listed as an over/under wins total of 7 ½ prior to the Bradford injury—are gonna salvage this season, then someone must step to the forefront and deliver and we’re not expecting it to be current backup Shaun Hill, who happens to be 13-13 lifetime in games as an NFL starter.

Your move, St. Loo. Don’t think Mr. Warner is coming out of retirement any time soon…

There’s a bit more QB chaos and this time it’s in Carolina where starter Cam Newton is out till further notice with a hairline fracture of his ribs.

Newton’s already been declared out for this Preseason Week 4 game at Pittsburgh (he would not have played more than a single series even if healthy) and so it’s starting to look as if veteran journeyman Derek Anderson will open the regular season under center for the Panthers in a divisional game in Tampa Bay.

Hey, if the Panthers believe Newton’s ribs are worse than they’re letting on, than maybe Carolina does some backup QB shopping too but don’t look for Cousins, Sanchez or even the New York Jets’ Michael Vick to land up in Charlotte…

Finally, in case you were wondering, NFL Preseason Betting Favorites exited Week 3 play with a 22-24-2 ATS (against the spread) mark with one pick ‘em affair for a .478 winning rate.

Meanwhile, worth noting that NFL “over” players will enter the Preseason Week 4 games with an 18-30-1 ATS record (a .375 winning rate) and, so for all the talk that points would be way up with all the rules that penalize defensive players for “hands in the face” and “illegal contact downfield” the fact of the matter is the “under players” really romped through the first three-plus weeks of this NFL Preseason and that included a pair of easy “under” wins in Sunday’s action as San Francisco topped San Diego 21-7 with a totals price of 42 points while Cincinnati downed host Arizona 19-13 as this tilt went way under the Las Vegas totals price of 43 points.

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THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL UPDATE
Okay, so in keeping with recent years here at Jim Sez when we kicked off the NCAA Football season by looking at the top 5 storylines, here goes for 2014:

1—LET’S CUT TO THE CHASE… WILL FLORIDA STATE REPEAT?
Keep in mind that last year the Florida State Seminoles started the season ranked #11 in the Associated Press poll, and so it’s not as if anyone saw that title coming but now that FSU has that proverbial “target on its back” for 12 regular-season games, a likely appearance in the ACC Championship Game and then two CFB (College Football Playoff) wins it’s unlikely 2013 Heisman Trophy winner QB Jameis Winston and mates can go 15-and-oh even with a star-studded cast in tow. Gut feeling is someone out there—whether it’s Oklahoma or UCLA or Alabama—beats ‘em come playoff time.

2—WHAT TEAM(S) WILL BE COMING OUT THE WOODWORK TO MAKE A RUN AT THE NATIONAL TITLE?
Keep your eyes on #18 Ole Miss as this club has a savvy veteran QB Bo Wallace and a dynamic pass-catcher in WR Laquon Treadwell—most folks have the Rebels finishing fifth in the SEC West but note Ole Miss will host both Alabama and Auburn.

Also, from outside the Top 25 you may want to watch for the Iowa Hawkeyes who don’t play either Ohio State or Michigan this fall.

3—WHAT NEW COACH IS GOING TO MAKE A MAJOR SPLASH IN A FIRST-YEAR SITUATION?
Let’s try on Wake Forest’s Dave Clawson who replaced Jim Grobe after he spent 13 years on the job in Demon Deacon-land. The 46-year-old Clawson has won 90 games in his career and could catapult this ACC team into an eight-win season and a bowl should WF be able to win 5-of-6 home games and steal non-conference road tilts at UL-Monroe and Utah State.

4—HATE TO TURN NEGATIVE, BUT HOW ABOUT A TEAM THAT WILL FLOP FACE-MASK FIRST THIS YEAR?
Let’s nominate the eighth-ranked Michigan State Spartans. Last year’s 13-1 squad had everything—and we mean everything—fall just right for ‘em en route to a Big 10 championship and Rose Bowl triumph over mighty Stanford but things could go off the cliff quickly here with a Sept. 6th game at Oregon and it could also be tough sledding for Sparty against the likes of Nebraska, Michigan and Ohio State—yes, all three of these games are in East Lansing but you could make the case that all three road squads are more athletic than M-State and winning close-to-the vest games against all of the above will prove ultra-tough.

5—FINALLY, HOW ABOUT THE 1-2-3 FINISHERS IN THIS YEAR’S HEISMAN TROPHY RACE?
Okay, you got it:

The repeat winner will be FSU’s Winston (get ready for a whole lot of Archie Griffin interviews this December!), followed by Georgia RB Todd Gurley and Baylor QB Bryce Petty.

NOTE: We’ll have NCAA Football Thursday Nite Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez and that includes #21 Texas A&M at #9 South Carolina along with #18 Ole Miss versus Boise State (in Atlanta). The Football Season is officially back!

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