Jim Sez Friday NFL Previews Plus Big-12 & SEC Notes
WILL THE FAVORITES JUST KEEP ROLLIN' ALONG?
OUR JIM SEZ COLLEGE FOOTBALL PREVIEWS CONTINUE WITH THE BIG 12 & SEC ON TAP TODAY
NFL PRESEASON WEEK 3 PREVIEWS FOR FRIDAY
By Jim Hurley:
The NFL's Preseason Week 3 games have long been called "dress rehearsals":
Starters -- or "ones" -- tend to play at least a half and coaches take one really last long look before eventually slicing down a team's roster to 53 players just prior to the start of regular-season play (everyone knows the Preseason Week 4 games next week are nothing than glorified scrimmages).
But is there anything else of major interest we all should be watching as these NFL Preseason Week 3 games swing into high gear on Friday night with tilts from Carolina, Kansas City and Jacksonville (see below)?
You better believe there is!
Many teams that are winless in the preseason really do want to bang out a "W" before these exhibition games come to an end on the evening of September 3rd - in case you didn't check your handy/dandy preseason standings (where are they?) than note the following teams are all 0-2 SU (straight-up) in this year's preseason...Miami, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Dallas, New Orleans, Arizona, Seattle and St. Louis.
Note that as of press time the Dolphins, the Cowboys, the Saints, the Seahawks and the Rams are all listed as betting favorites (none more than 3.5 points, you'll note) in this weekend's games and so if you combine the fact that these teams are somewhat "desperate" for a preseason win along with the fact NFL Preseason Betting Favorites are a collective 20-12-0 (with one pick 'em game) for a .625 winning rate thus far, than you could make a case that these favs could be real bargains in the Preseason Week 3 affairs.
On Friday, it's ...
NEW ENGLAND (1-1) at CAROLINA (2-0) - 7:30 p.m. ET
No matter how you slice it, the Patriots have gotten to see plenty of QB Jimmy Garoppolo in the first two games of this preseason - he completed 28-of-33 passes for 269 yards and one TD in last week's 26-24 come-from-way-behind win at New Orleans - and with expectations still out there that starting QB Tom Brady will be suspended for at least two games (when will DeflateGate ever end?) you'll see a large dose of Garoppolo here against a Panthers' defense that last week allowed Miami to prolong three offensive drives thanks to silly penalties. Hey, is anyone on Carolina gonna "step it up" at wide receiver in the absence of out-for-the-year wide-out Kelvin Benjamin as WR Corey Brown dropped a couple of passes last week (including one in the end zone) and rookie WR Devin Funchess (hamstring) has been MIA this camp.
TENNESSEE (1-1) at KANSAS CITY (2-0) - 8 p.m. ET
Expect the Chiefs' defense starring pass-rushing maven Justin Houston (22 sacks last year) to come hard at Titans' rookie QB Marcus Mariota who played turnover-free ball in last Sunday's wire-to-wire 27-14 win against St. Louis. True, Mariota's been pretty much kept under wraps with "safe stuff" (see 5-of-8 passing for 58 passing yards last weekend) but here you might look for the visiting Titans to try some deep balls providing Houston's being kept at bay. On the flip side, KayCee's offense better perk it up: In last week's 14-13 non-cover win against 3-point underdog Seattle, the Chiefs managed just 238 yards against a slew of backups and QB Alex Smith (second-quarter "pick six") has yet to get into a rhythm with his wide receivers ... now have you heard that before? Yes, we know this is the dress rehearsal but we'll be surprised if Kansas City RB Jamaal Charles plays more than a few snaps behind a patchwork offensive line.
DETROIT (1-1) at JACKSONVILLE (1-1) - 8 p.m. ET, CBS
The good news for the Lions is that the pass rush - so far - has been dynamic in games against the New York Jets and Washington Redskins ... and all without Ndamukong Suh, of course! The former Lions star has taken his talents to South Beach but Jim Caldwell's defensive front seven has been uber-active this summer with three sacks last week of Redskins' QB Robert Griffin III and now they'll be coming at second-year Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles (19-of-31 passing in the preseason) who needs to have his club clean up its red-zone woes after the Bortles-led Jags scored three FGs in as many possessions in last week's 22-12 loss at the New York Giants. If Jacksonville is gonna be concentrating on one particular aspect of its game here, than it's the rushing attack that managed a mere 61 ground yards against the Jints last week - is RB Denard Robinson really the answer? Hope to see Robinson get more than six carries (for 19 yards last week) here, okay?
As you well know, the College Football 2014 campaign swings into high gear with a full week/weekend card scheduled for Thursday, September 3rd and going 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 South Carolina versus North Carolina (in Charlotte) next Thursday along with other key holiday weekend tilts such as Washington at #23 Boise State (next Friday), #15 Arizona State versus Texas A&M (from Houston) and #20 Wisconsin versus #3 Alabama (from Arlington) next Saturday. And the NFL Preseason Week 3 rolls on this Friday/Saturday/Sunday with national TV tilts such as Detroit at Jacksonville (on Friday), Seattle at San Diego (Saturday) and Arizona at Oakland (Sunday night).
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 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? Get with the Jim Hurley Network and join in on all the fun-and-profits right now!
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PREVIEWS
The College Football Season kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 3rd and every day between now and then we'll bring you our Conference-by-Conference Previews in quick-hitter form. We continue here today with both the Big 12 and the SEC:
Maybe this 10-team league got a little too cute a year ago when awarding co-championships to TCU and Baylor.
The reality is neither were selected to play in college football's first-ever playoff tournament - we said all along last year that head-to-head winner Baylor should've been given the sole Big 12 title - and so now this conference has revised its rules and stated any future tie at the top of the league will be settled by the head-to-head game winner. The $64,000 question for this year is will the Baylor at TCU bash on November 27th be "the game" that decides matters in this 2015 season or will some other Big 12 team toss a proverbial monkey wrench into the action?
No doubt #2 TCU and #4 Baylor are the cream-of-the-crop teams in this league - the only other Top 25 team to hail from the Big 12 is #19 Oklahoma and note the Sooners play at Baylor and home to TCU on back-to-back weekends this November - and the Horned Frogs immediately have the edge at quarterback where Heisman Trophy co-favorite Trevone Boykin (he's 6-to-1 to win the bronzed trophy this year as is Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott) comes off a 3,901-yard, 33-TD season.
The flip side says Baylor QB Seth Russell - a 6-foot-3 junior - is fresh off a terrific spring but what's gonna happen once the bright lights come on? If Russell can keep WRs Corey Coleman and KD Cannon happy after each exceeded the 1,000-yard receiving mark a year ago, than Art Briles' Bears might best Gary Patterson's Frogs for a third consecutive season.
If you're gonna look for an on-the-rise player in this league, than check out Oklahoma RB Samaje Perine who happens to be our pick to snag this year's Heisman Trophy. Perine set the FBS single-game rushing mark with last year's 427-yard showing against Kansas and - if he can stay healthy - the sophomore back could be rushing for well in excess of 2,000 yards this fall.
Here's some key pointspread stats for a few Big 12 teams ...
Baylor is an electric 19-3 ATS at home the past four years;
Kansas State is a spiffy 15-6 vig-wise as underdogs the past four years;
TCU registered a 10-2 ATS mark last year including a 6-0 ATS home mark;
Texas Tech covered six-of-nine conference games a year ago;
And West Virginia is just 5-14 vig-wise as favorites the past three years.
It's true - the Southeastern Conference now has gone two years in a row without winning a national championship after snagging seven consecutive national titles and there's a real growing sense that the mighty SEC might not even have a representative in this year's CFP even though there are three SEC teams listed in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 (that's #3 Alabama, #6 Auburn and #9 Georgia) to go along with five other teams in the top 25 (that's #14 LSU, #17 Ole Miss, #18 Arkansas, #24 Missouri and #25 Tennessee).
Okay, so that's eight teams in the AP Top 25 but - trust us - there's warts on each/every one of the SEC's starry squads with Alabama having its share of quarterback questions with Jake Cocker, while Auburn better clean up its defense after allowing 31-or-more points in its final seven FBS games and Georgia has a particularly tricky schedule that includes road games at Tennessee, Auburn and Georgia Tech, that annual neutral field game against Florida and don't sleep on the Dawgs' home games versus Alabama and Missouri ... so perhaps someone from outside that top 10 group makes a run for the money this year?
Check out an Arkansas team that covered nine of its last 11 games a year ago and sports star RBs Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins and we dare anyone to ignore the Mizzou Tigers who have won the SEC East the past two years and now look to veteran QB Maty Mauk to weave 'em in-and-out of close games in 2015.
Everyone's pointing to Tennessee as a "dark horse" - yes, they are #25 in the opening rankings - but it's a Miss State squad that last year sat near or at the top of the polls for most of the regular season that better garner some attention as QB Dak Prescott remains a make-it-happen player.
Here's some key pointspread stats for a few SEC teams ...
Alabama is an ugly 4-9 ATS away the past two seasons;
Arkansas has covered six of its last eight games when placed in the favorite's role;
Florida is 3-11 as hosts dating back to 2012;
LSU logged a 6-2 ATS mark as favorites last year;
Missouri is 19-7 spreadwise overall since the start of the 2013 season;
Ole Miss is a cumulative 24-12 ATS the past three years;
And South Carolina is 5-11 as betting favorites the past two years.
NOTE: We'll get you more NFL Preseason Week 3 Previews plus more College Football goodies too in the next edition of Jim Sez.
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