Who Has NFC’s Best Defense ... and Thursday’s Games







Sure, we’re just now entering the second full week of NFL Preseason action and yet all the experts are weighing in – and they’re all saying the defending champion New England Patriots are headed back to the Super Bowl (hey, we have yet to hear one “voice” say otherwise!).

But what about the flip side?

Who’s gonna be there in Minnesota on the early evening of February 4, 2018 to represent the NFC in Supe 52?

Well, if you are a believer that the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons still have the conference’s top team than you must be truthful about their defense – yes, the one that collapsed badly in last year’s 34-28 overtime loss in SB 51.

The Falcons last year finished 27th in the league in points allowed a year ago, 25th in yards allowed and finished tied for 16th in total sacks – generally not the type of numbers that get you into a Super Bowl in the first place.

So, Atlanta became aggressive this past off-season and drafted DE Takkarist McKinley (UCLA) with their late first-round pick and then tabbed LB Duke Riley (LSU) with their next pick (#75 overall).  

Is that enough to propel the Falcons into the upper crust of the NFC and join the following teams that most assuredly have a better “D” than does Atlanta:

We’re talking Arizona, Minnesota, Seattle, the New York Giants and the Los Angeles Rams as NFC teams with better defenses than Atlanta has … and there may be even more NFC teams with better stop units too.

Pin us down right here and right now and we say the top three defenses in the NFC belong to:

The Minnesota Vikings who allowed just 19.2 ppg a year ago while the weight of a flimsy offense kept the heat on Minny’s defense all year long;

The Arizona Cardinals led the league last year with a whopping total of 48 quarterback sacks and the unit finished second overall on total defense (yielded just 305.2 ypg);

And the Seattle Seahawks – even though they took a step or two backwards last year – climb into our top three defenses among NFC teams one year after Pete Carroll’s allowed just 18.2 ppg to rank third in scoring defense in all the NFL.


Now hear this …

The 2017 NFL Preseason continues to rock-n-roll with Week 2 action beginning on this Thursday Night with three games and then we’ll have the remainder of NFL Preseason Week 2 Friday-thru-Monday Night, so make sure you’re all aboard with Jim Hurley’s Network for Sides & Totals winners both here online at www.jimhurley.com and at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.

Note the College Football campaign swings into high gear on Saturday, August 26th and so make sure you’re ready to rumble with the college kids too plus there’s lots of Major-League Baseball winners each and every day.



Now, here’s the Thursday Nite menu:


BALTIMORE (1-0) at MIAMI (1-0) – 7 p.m. ET

It’s official:

The Jay Cutler “Era” will begin here with the Miami Dolphins as Fish boss Adam Gase said we’ll see the former Chicago Bears’ slinger tonight as he shares time with Matt Moore, Brandon Doughty and David Fales.

What to expect from Cutler? Gut feeling is he will play at least two offensive series (let’s say a minimum of 10 snaps) before Gase and Company put ‘em in for a half in the team’s next preseason game.

Current Line: Dolphins (- 3) and 38 points



BUFFALO (0-1) at PHILADELPHIA (0-1) – 7 p.m. ET

The Bills were the biggest noise-maker following last week’s Preseason games as they dealt away oft-injured WR Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams and moved third-year CB Ronald Darby to the Philly Eagles – so we’ll see right away how those moves shape rookie head coach Sean McDermott’s squad plus it’ll be fun watching Darby challenge the Bills’ WRs that here won’t include newly-acquired wide-out Jordan Matthews (chip fracture in sternum suffered earlier this week).

Current Line: Eagles (- 5) and 39 points


TAMPA BAY (0-1) at JACKSONVILLE (1-0) – 8 p.m. ET

Now that the Bucs and Jaguars have exchanged real-live blows in head-to-head practices this week – Tampa Bay head coach Dirk Koetter declared his team the “winner” in the fights – we’ll be watching how J’ville QB Blake Bortles plays after attempting to scuttle talk of a “tired arm” this week.

Meanwhile, the Bucs will be keeping a close eye on PK Nick Folk who has not exactly been consistent in camp so far but he was good enough so that Tampa Bay waived former second-round pick Roberto Aguayo (since picked up by the Chicago Bears).

Current Line: Bucs (- 1) and 40.5 points


In other NFL Preseason News & Notes …

Are the Dallas Cowboys gonna catch a break here in the aftermath of the RB Ezekiel Elliott six-game (could be less) suspension? Sure seems as if RB Alfred Morris is a changed runner these days and he could be overtaking RB Darren McFadden on the depth chart this summer or, at least, taking some snaps away from McFadden.

Note that Morris – a former star with the Washington Redskins a couple of years ago – claims he changed his diet and workout routine this past year and so we’ll see what Morris does Saturday night in the Preseason home game versus Indianapolis …

On the flip side, the Green Bay Packers – who exiled RB Eddie Lacy this past off-season – might be in the market for a running back should expected starter Ty Montgomery (lower leg injury) miss some time. Last weekend Montgomery lost a fumble and gained zero yards on three carries …

Finally, the Pittsburgh Steelers are excited to have WR Martavis Bryant (suspended in 2016) back as he’s listed along with WR Antonio Brown as the first-string wide receivers for Sunday's Preseason tilt against Atlanta. Bryant sat out last week’s 20-12 road win at the New York “Football” Giants.



NOTE: More NFL Preseason News/Notes/Previews coming all week long in the next Jim Sez column!



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