NFL Preseason Week 1 Hot Topics Ahead

NFL NOTEBOOK - A SNEAK PREVIEW ON WHAT TO WATCH IN PRESEASON WEEK 1 ACTION

PLUS TWO OF BASEBALL'S MOST UNDERRATED STARTING PITCHERS THIS YEAR

Folks, if Thursday's Hall of Fame Game - see Dallas 20, Arizona 18 - was any indication, than we figure to see a whole lot more passing in the preseason than ever before ... and that makes total sense.

Therefore, we can expect more scoring in these summertime games and - sooner or later - the Las Vegas totals prices will go up, up, up too.

So, that means the Jim Hurley Network will be checking out which totals prices are too high - or still too low - while handicapping/researching all these games ... and if you don't think you can cash in big during these August games than you have not been with us for the past quarter-century banging out a slew of winners in the Preseason.

Consider that much of the next four weeks of preseason/exhibition games will revolve around second- and third-string quarterbacks getting game snaps and they are all out to prove something with NFL head coaches/offensive coordinators all anxious to see what they've got in terms of backups.

Back to the aforementioned Hall of Fame Game, for a moment: The Cowboys allowed lefty QB Kellen Moore to wing it plenty - he completed 12-of-7 passing attempts for 182 yards with one TD and one INT - as he gained the start in this game over rested second-year superstar Dak Prescott.

Meanwhile, Arizona rested starting slinger Carson Palmer and so that meant a rare start for journeyman Blaine Gabbert who impressed big-time with his 11-of-14, 185-yard stat line (no TDs/no INTs). No doubt the Cardinals still believe Drew Stanton remains the chief backup to Palmer with Gabbert listed third on the depth chart but - while the former Jacksonville Jaguar/San Francisco 49er shined in that HOF start - fourth-stringer QB Trevor Knight was a bust for the Cards with a lousy 5-of-14, 68-yard passing stat line.

Again, get ready for lots of backup signal-callers chucking it all over the lot this preseason - a few more thoughts on what to watch in next week's Preseason Week 1 games in a moment but first this key reminder ...

The 2017 NFL Preseason really swings into gear next week as there's a full slate of games beginning with Wednesday's Houston Texans at Carolina Panthers tilt (that's on NFL Network) plus there's 7 games on Thursday (featuring Washington at Baltimore and Philadelphia at Green Bay) and there's more action next Friday/Saturday/Sunday. Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will be banging out tons of Sides & Totals winners with a reminder there's College Football on tap beginning August 26st - and get the daily winners in Major-League Baseball too when you check in either right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.

In NFL Preseason Wek 1 action next week ...

A full 16-game NFL slate roars into action beginning with Wednesday's tilt between the Houston Texans at the Carolina Panthers and, naturally, one of the great debates this summer will be who should start at quarterback for the Texans come Week 1 of the regular season.

Right now QB Tom Savage is penciled in for the starter's job but note Houston head coach Bill O'Brien was quoted the other day as saying rookie QB Deshaun Watson is "ahead of any rookie quarterback I've ever been around." Don't be shocked if Watson gets to play a half (or even more) in his team's preseason opener ...

On Thursday there's seven NFL Preseason games on the docket and one of 'em - Atlanta at Miami - will be drawing plenty of interest since the Dolphins more-than-likely have lost QB Ryan Tannehill (left knee) for the year. Tannehill hopes to avoid season-ending surgery but, even if that's the case, he is expected to miss between six-to-eight weeks and so there's a mad scramble to fill out the QB depth chart for the Fish (we hear all the Colin Kaepernick chatter):

Right now it looks as if Matt Moore's the starter here for this AFC East squad with no-names Brandon Doughty and David Fales (who!) listed as the chief backups ...

Finally, peek ahead to Friday's action and we're paying special attention to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cincinnati Bengals game: The Bucs are thrilled with how third-year slinger Jameis Winston has looked so far in camp (he's really become more accurate with his long throws) but it's interesting here 'cause veteran vagabond Ryan Fitzpatrick was signed as Winston's top backup and rookie Sefo Liufau (Colorado) will be given a shot to play a lot this preseason as he tries to be a dual-threat player (and note he's family with one-time "Throwin' Samoan" Jack Thompson of NFL fame in the 1980s).


THE BASEBALL WEEKEND NOTEBOOK

No doubt there's lots of excitement when it comes to this year's MVP and Cy Young awards - nothing is a lock by any means as we play through this first full weekend in August - but we wanted to take a few moments to acknowledge two of the most underrated starting pitchers in the bigs this year:

ERVIN SANTANA, RHP, Minnesota - Sure, this veteran right-hander made it to the All-Star Game in Miami last month but, generally, he's not given enough love for his excellent season that includes a 12-7 record, 3.28 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. And how about five complete games this year for the 34-year Santana? His last one came in Wednesday's 5-2 win in San Diego.

AARON NOLA, RHP, Philadelphia - Sure, nobody's talking up anyone on this year's sad-sack Phillies team but this 24-year-old native from Baton Rouge has been excellent with an 8-7 record and 3.16 ERA (and pitching his home games in bandbox Citizens Bank Park, no less). At last check, Nola -- who has struck out 110 batters with 31 walks -- has surrendered two or fewer runs in eight consecutive starts.

NOTE: More NFL Preseason Week 1 goodies plus College Football Conference Snapshots and Baseball too in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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