Jim Sez for Friday, August 7…

LET THE GAMES BEGIN:
THE NFL PRESEASON SWINGS INTO GEAR
WITH OUR HALL OF FAME GAME PREVIEW
AS STEELERS–VIKINGS COLLIDE SUNDAY NIGHT &heliip;
BASEBALL’S WEEKEND REPORT:
KEEPING TABS ON RED–HOT METS AND
THE NOW–SKITTERING TWINS

Don’t ‘ya love it when we ask you each/every summer &heliip;
Are you ready for some football?
It’s been six months and eight days since the last National Football League game took place – see New England 28, Seattle 24 in Super Bowl 49 – and so we don’t blame you for craving some pigskin and now it’s finally here as Sunday Night brings us the Pittsburgh Steelers versus the Minnesota Vikings.
In a few moments we’ll lay out our Hall of Fame Game Preview but first let’s get you some NFL Preseason facts/figures from a year ago – here’s some goodies just in case you were wondering:
Last year the New York Giants (+ 3.5) defeated the Buffalo Bills 17–13 in the annual Hall of Fame Game played in Canton and that, in essence, set up a summer of preseason games in which the underdog and the “under” bettors thrived.
Note that following the entire 65–game NFL Preseason a year ago, NFL Betting Favorites recorded a 27–32–4 ATS (against the spread) mark with two pick ‘em games for a .458 winning rate for the 2014 Preseason chalk sides while “totals” players last summer only cashed out big if they were playing the “unders” – note the “over” players went just 24–40–1 against the prices for a sour .375 winning rate.
Here is last year’s week–by–week NFL Preseason pointspread results:

Week #FAVSOVERS
HOF0–1–00–1–0
#19–5–14–12–0
#27–9–010–6–0
#36–9–14–11–1
#45–8–26–10–0
Total27–32–424–40–1

Now, let’s get to the start of this NFL Preseason:
On Sunday night, it’s the Hall of Fame Game &heliip;

PITTSBURGH vs. MINNESOTA (at Canton, OH) – 8 p.m. ET, NBC
Interesting conflict here as the 3.5–point favorite Minnesota Vikings not only want to allow second–year QB Teddy Bridgewater some playing time here but there are real battles along the offensive line and in the secondary that figures to keep this NFC North crew all stirred up for this preseason opener – and, no, we don’t expect RB Adrian Peterson to play here even though he played in just one game last year (see 21 carries for 75 yards rushing) before the NFL slammed the door in his face with a season–long suspension after it was revealed he abused his four–year–old son. The fact is – as Viking fans know – Peterson simply doesn’t play preseason games but the underrated depth that allowed Minny to rank 14th in the league in rushing last year (that’s 112.8 yards per game) should rise up and contribute in this clash.

On the flip side, the Steelers do have some issues – QB Ben Roethlisberger likely won’t play more than a single series and backup QB Bruce Gradkowski (shoulder) already has been declared out for this clash and so get ready for lots of Tajh Boyd and Landry Jones. Also, the Steelers – without long–time defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau as he’s moved on to Tennessee – will be missing rookie CB Senquez Golson (Ole Miss) who’s girding up for season–ending shoulder surgery and gotta believe Bridgewater and Company will be testing this new–look Steelers’ secondary that’s also without retired S Troy Polamalu and CB Ike Taylor.

If you want to zoom in on something specific here, then check out how often Minnesota’s second–year head coach Mike Zimmer sends his corners, safeties and linebackers at the Steelers in passing downs – Zimmer wants his team to get even more aggressive than last year when the Vikes totaled 41 quarterback sacks (note that Minnesota allowed 51 sacks a year ago).

Preseason Spread Notes – Last year Pittsburgh failed to cover three–of–four preseason games with the lone “W” coming in the Steelers’ 19–16 Preseason Week 2 win/cover against 2.5–point road underdog Buffalo. Meanwhile, Minnesota snapped up a 3–1 ATS preseason log that included a 10–6 win/cover versus 3.5–point dog Oakland in the Vikings’ preseason opener.

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 &heliip; can’t beat that, right?

THE BASEBALL REPORT
Talk about your dramatic change in fortunes!
Just a couple of weeks ago the New York Mets were on the verge of self–imploding with an anemic offense and an over–the–top testy manager in Terry Collins.
Fast forward to this August weekend and the Mets (58–50) are in first place in the National League, winners of six in a row and possessors of – quite possibly – the best young starting rotation in baseball in the past 25 years.
A series of pre–deadline trades/moves really turned around the vibe in the Mets clubhouse as New York first promoted Double–A OF Michael Conforto, then they acquired INF Kelly Johnson and 3B Juan Uribe from Atlanta, then the deal for Oakland set–up man/closer Tyler Clippard and then the coup de grace with the 11th–hour swap for OF Yoenis Cespedes (the Mets are 6–and–oh since they acquired this key bat from Detroit).
Now go ahead and check out the Minnesota Twins:

The American League Central squad was sitting there right at the top of the wild card standings right after the All–Star Game break but in recent days the Twins have lost four in a row and eight of their last 10 games and if you check out today’s standings you’ll see Minny’s tied for fourth place in the wild card hunt – in other words, on the outside looking in.

First–year Twins manager Paul Molitor will try to get his club turned around this weekend in Cleveland but take note that exiting last night’s game in Toronto – a 9–3 loss by Minnesota up at Rogers Centre –– this Twins team has been held to three runs or less in six of their last seven games and four of those tilts saw Minnesota scratch out just one single run per game &heliip; ugh.

On the flip side, the revived Mets – who are a mere plus 15 in the run differential category this season – head into Tampa Bay for the weekend with young arms RHP Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard getting two of the starts and 42–year–old Bartolo Colon slated to start Sunday after he just garnered his first win since June 12th with last Monday’s rocking–chair 12–1 triumph over the host Miami Marlins.
The Mets have been absolutely magic the past week – the Twins are really mucking up their playoff hopes. Will we still be saying the same thing once this weekend is over?

Note: Catch more NFL Hall of Fame Game notes right here in the next edition of Jim Sez.

 

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