Jim Sez for Thursday, July 30 …


Wanna a real irony to this whole Tom Brady DeflateGate mess?
The Indianapolis Colts – yes, the team that originally blew the whistle on New England for allegedly doctoring the footballs in last year's AFC Championship Game – have turned into the betting favorite to capture the conference with current odds at 8-to-1 while the aforementioned Patriots dropped to 10-to-1 following the four-game suspension of New England QB Tom Brady.

Hey, the Colts may well have be headed to Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara in any event – with or without the Brady suspension – as Indy's climb has been a real step-by-step path to the big game as the Colts lost to Baltimore in a wild card game in 2012, won a wild card game and then lost in the AFC Divisional Playoff round to host New England in 2013 and last year won a pair of post-season games before getting knocked off in the AFC Championship Game 45-7 in Foxboro.

So, the progression seemingly has one thinking the Colts will be the AFC representatives in this year's Super Bowl game in northern California but lest anyone forget that Indianapolis will host the Patriots in a Week 6 game on October 18th – yes, the first game back for Mr. Brady provided this four-game suspension officially sticks.

Now, wouldn't it be something if the Colts managed to secure home field for the AFC Playoffs because of the fact they edged out the Pats by a single game in the standings?
Who couldn't see Indianapolis going 4-and-oh SU (straight-up) out of the starting gate with games at Buffalo, home to the New York Jets, at Tennessee and home to Jacksonville while the Jimmy Garoppolo-led Patriots could conceivably go 2-2 SU with the New England season-starting sked calling for a home game against Pittsburgh, at Buffalo, home to Jacksonville, a bye and then a road game in Dallas all before Brady's eligible to come off the suspension list.

In other words, we could well see a scenario where the Pats beat the Colts head-up in Week 6 but still wind up getting the #2 seed in the conference standings – think the Pats would be moaning out loud come January?

Okay, meanwhile that got us to start thinking about just how the Colts and Patriots have started off the past three years when there wasn't any of this suspension talk in the air – and right when Indy QB Andrew Luck first came on board.

Note that the Colts are a collective 7-5 SU in the first four games of a season the past three years and they're also 7-5 ATS (against the spread) during this time period;
Meanwhile, New England – with Brady playing in all 12 games during this three-year period – is 8-4 SU and a dead-even but vig-losing 6-6 ATS in the first quarter of the season the past three years.

Interestingly enough, the Patriots are a sour 4-6 spreadwise as betting favorites the first four games of a season since 2012 while Indianapolis is 3-4 vig-wise as chalk sides in the first part of the year.

Hey, you might also have noticed that some sports books in Las Vegas dropped the Patriots from a 5.5- or 6-point betting favorite versus Pittsburgh in that opener on Thursday, September 10th to a mere 1- or 1.5-point fav now that Brady's expected to be out.

Let's be real here: You don't have many quarterbacks in this league that change the price tag like that – maybe Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and the aforementioned Luck would be right at the top of the list along with Brady – but if you ever thought about "getting value" with a defending Super Bowl champ, you'll be seeing it in the prices the first four weeks of this 2015 campaign.

In other NFL News & Notes …
Quick: What two NFL teams finished last season with identical six-game ATS losing streaks?
The answer: The Tennessee Titans and the San Francisco 49ers.

Tennessee limped to the finish line last year by scoring just 41 points in its final four games while the Titans yielded an average of 31.3 points per game in their final six tilts – and while everyone's quick to get on the QB Marcus Mariota bandwagon the fact of the matter is the Titans didn't address their defense in the draft till overall pick #100 with DT Angelo Blackson of Auburn.

San Francisco – which late last year experienced its longest in-season pointspread losing streak in more than a decade – scored more than 20 points just once during this ATS losing skid yet the Niners didn't address their offensive needs until Round 4 of the NFL Draft with the selection of TE (and former college QB) Blake Bell from Oklahoma. Hmmm.

Note …
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No doubt about it:
This has been one wing-ding of a week as we rapidly approach Friday afternoon's Major-League Baseball Trade Deadline but let's just say last night's activity – and apparent non-activity – really took the cake!

First things first and that it comes as no surprise at all that the floundering Philadelphia Phillies (38-64, the worst record in baseball) finally did deal veteran LHP Cole Hamels but it wasn't to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Los Angeles Angels, the San Francisco Giants or the New York Yankees – all of whom apparently "kicked the tires" and attempted to have the Phillies pick up a chunk of Hamels' contract. Instead, Hamels was shipped to the Texas Rangers (48-52) who right this very moment are eight games back of the first-place Houston Astros in the American League West and please note the Rangers have seven teams ahead of 'em in the current chase for the wild cards.
Okay, so why on earth did Texas pull the trigger here? Well, the Rangers are only four games back of the wild card-leading Angels and Minnesota Twins and there's a sentiment out there that some of the prospects Texas shipped off to Philly are not quite as good as advertised while Hamels – fresh off last week's no-hitter at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs – could well have 13 or 14 more good starts in 'em the remainder of the year and with this Texas lineup that could be a get-over-the-hump combination.

Still, count us among the folks shocked that the Phillies didn't send Hamels to his native state (California, of course) and that Philadelphia would bother to take a risk with the bring-back of LHP Matt Harrison among the six players acquired as the southpaw hardly has shown he's over back issues that included spinal fusion surgery last year.
Now, let's get to the real wacky part from last night – the trade that wasn't!

There were the New York Mets (52-49 and just two games back of the National League East-leading Washington Nationals) getting blasted last night 7-3 by the San Diego Padres and somewhere in the fifth inning the TV broadcasters for the Mets (that's play-by-play man Gary Cohen and analyst Keith Hernandez) announced the Mets had traded rehabbing RHP Zack Wheeler and INF Wilmer Flores to the Milwaukee Brewers for two-time All-Star OF Carlos Gomez.

Okay, so next thing you would expect is Mets' manager Terry Collins to pull Flores from the game and allow him to "hug it out" with his teammates but instead Flores stays in at shortstop and takes his scheduled at-bat in the seventh inning (and gets a heart-felt standing ovation) before going back out to the field – tears in his eyes and an emotional wreck.
Finally, Collins yanks Flores before a scheduled at-bat in the home half of the ninth inning and afterwards there's Flores telling media members "there is no deal" and that's followed by Mets' GM Sandy Alderson informing the same media corps that, "There is no trade … it will not transpire."

Okay, so quickly word spreads that the reason the deal fell through is because Wheeler's medical charts scare off the Brewers but here's what nobody was saying last night:
If that's true, then Milwaukee really sabotaged the Mets' trade plans for the rest of this week because Wheeler – not expected to pitch in the bigs till next June or July after undergoing Tommy John surgery this spring – would surely have been part of any big Mets package and so now NYM likely has to trade somebody else in order to land another bat such as Cincinnati OF Jay Bruce or maybe San Diego OF Justin Upton.
To be continued!

NOTE: Lots of NFL, NCAA Football and LMB goodies straight ahead in the next week/month of Jim Sez and don't forget we'll get you College Football Conference-by-Conference Reports plus lots more!




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