Jim Sez for Monday, August 3 …


You know how those countdowns went in the old movies … and now we'll chime in and say it's "T-minus six days" before the 2015 NFL Preseason swings into gear and, boy, that's great news after hearing all spring/summer long about DeflateGate, oft-maligned NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and all those other tired/negative off-the-field stories.

The reality is come Sunday night at 8 p.m. Eastern time on NBC-TV, we'll all get a little bit giddy because the Minnesota Vikings will be playing the Pittsburgh Steelers in the annual Hall of Fame Game from Canton (OH) and it's always great news when Football is back … right?
For the record, the Vikings have been practicing at Minnesota State University in Mankato (MN) since July 25th while the new-look Steelers – no S Troy Polamalu, no LB

Jason Worilds (both retired) -- have been practicing at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe (PA) also since the 25th and so it's time, as they say, to hit somebody else.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh was busy on the personnel front this past weekend – the biggest note was the trade acquisition from the Philadelphia Eagles of chatty CB Brandon Boykin for a conditional fifth-round pick in next year's NFL Draft (Boykin has a total of seven INTs in his NFL career that started in 2012 and this past weekend called into question whether or not Eagles' head coach Chip Kelly may have racist qualities, hmmm) -- while Minnesota low-keyed things this past weekend while inking WR Ryan Whalen (11 receptions worth 80 yards in parts of three NFL seasons) but there are plenty of important topics for both the Vikings and Steelers to deal with namely how Minny's second-year LB Anthony Barr plays this summer after missing all of his OTAs while rehabbing a balky knee. P.S., Barr missed four regular-season games a year ago with the knee woes.

Pittsburgh has its own injury/illness issues as WR Martavis Bryant will undergo a procedure for an infection in his elbow and he's expected to miss the next 10-to-12 days and so no Hall of Fame Game for this QB Ben Roethlisberger target while the Steelers say backup QB Bruce Gradkowski (shoulder) more than likely won't play against the Vikings after being sidelined for the better part of the past two months.
We'll get you more on Steelers-Vikings later in the week and lots of NFL Training Camp News & Notes all month long here at Jim Sez … so don't miss out!

Folks, Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers want to welcome you to the start of the 2015 Football Season.
Okay, so it all actually begins this Sunday with the NFL's annual Hall of Fame Game between the Pittsburgh Steelers versus the Minnesota Vikings and there's another four weeks of money-making NFL Preseason Games that follow while the College Football campaign swings into gear in early September.

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?

We plan on digging into all the major-college conference previews in the next couple of weeks as everyone continues to bone up on this upcoming FBS season that kicks off September 3rd (see North Carolina at South Carolina, Michigan at Utah and TCU at Minnesota for some nice little "appetizers") but first let's remind you folks about the powerful pointspread prowess of three FBS teams these past couple of seasons with more potent spread sides getting some pub in the next Jim Sez:

COLORADO STATE – Don't look now but the Rams are a collective 17-9 ATS (against the spread) the past two years (that's a tidy .654 winning rate) but will this Mountain West crew ride so high in the saddle with rookie head coach Mike Bobo running the show?
The former long-time offensive coordinator for the Georgia Bulldogs has a bit of added pressure from the alumni and fan base considering that Colo State cranked out a 9-4 ATS log in 2013 and then registered a solid 8-5 ATS mark a year ago – and that featured a four-game spread winning streak and later a three-game spread winning streak.
The Jim McElwain Era is over in Fort Collins – but Bobo's banking on some "leftover talent" to make hay with the bettors.

DUKE – Hear ye, hear ye the Blue Devils are a rollicking 18-7-1 versus the vig the past two football seasons (a spiffy .720 winning rate) and better remind you that includes a pair of loss-but-covers in back-to-back bowl games against two-TD favorite Texas A&M and 7.5-point fav Arizona State.
The Dookies are 12-5 ATS versus fellow ACC foes; they're 6-2 ATS when challenged by non-ACC opponents and so coach David Cutcliffe's guys have been major greenback-earners and there's plenty of optimism in Durham this year despite the fact QB Anthony Boone must be replaced.
P.S., Duke has covered 10 of its last 14 away games the past two years but be reminded that the Blue Devils will play five of their final seven regular-season games on the road in 2015.

HOUSTON – Let's face facts: Save for a year here or three (see 2011), it's been a couple of decades since the UH Cougars were major noise-makers in the world of college football but anyone that's wagered a bob or two knows this American Athletic Conference club has been strikingly successful on the "big board" the past couple of seasons.
In fact, the Coogs are a cumulative 16-8-1 ATS since the start of 2013 (a .667 winning percentage) and that mark is all the more impressive considering Houston failed to cover its first two games out of the proverbial starting box a year ago (a 27-7 loss against 9-point road dog UTSA and a 47-0 non-cover win against 49.5-point pup Grambling).
If new coach Tom Herman – he was Ohio State's offensive coordinator last year and now replaces Tony Levine – wants to make some early-season ruckus then winning at Louisville on Sept. 12th would be nice.

Talk about your proverbial "lost weekends"!
The Washington Nationals (54-49) woke up Monday morning still tied for first place in the National League East but the straight set weekend sweep at the hands of the suddenly revived New York Mets – that's 2-1 in 12 innings, 3-2 and 5-2 – had Matt Williams' club scratching their collective heads.
The Nats watched RHP Jordan Zimmermann surrender three home runs in the bottom of the third inning in Sunday's nationally televised loss, they merely didn't hit those young Mets star starters RHP Matt Harvey, RHP Jacob deGrom and RHP Noah Syndergaard (or the NYM bullpen, for that matter) despite the return of injured starters 2B Anthony Rendon, 1B Ryan Zimmerman and LF Jayson Werth and now the Nats head home for back-to-back series against Arizona and Colorado and simply hoping recently-acquired closer RHP Jonathan Papelbon can get in a ball game.

On the other coast, the Los Angeles Angels (55-49 and suddenly four games back of the American League West-leading Houston Astros while barely hanging onto the lead for one of the wild card berths) come off an excruciating three-game sweep at the hands of those hated Los Angeles Dodgers and here's the Halos losers of nine of their last 10 games while heading into this week's home sets against the Cleveland Indians and Baltimore Orioles – just when you thought Mike Scioscia's club had turned the beat around a couple of weeks back it's been meltdown city for a team with major health problems when it comes to this starting rotation. Ugh!





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