Network Bulletin - 2015 NFL Preseason and College Preview Issue

Volume 31, Issue 1 - Online at - July / August 2015


Let's not kid ourselves ... it has been a looooong wait between Super Bowl XLIX (see New England 28, Seattle 24) and this 2015 NFL Preseason but it's finally here. Football is back and so are we at the Jim Hurley Network where - once again -- we'll be busy banging out winners all year long for both the college kids and the pros alike. Can't wait!

It all gets started on August 9th with the NFL Hall of Fame Game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings and trust us when we tell you it's been a busy offseason of studying /researching / analyzing everything football. Folks, we've been doing our homework! And, as usual, that's going to mean another lightning-quick start for America's #1 Handicapper who is closing in on three decades of winners.

We're on top of all 32 NFL teams and all 128 FBS schools in the world of college football and all you need to do to jump-start your 2015 Football Season is sign up today - go online to or call us at the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 and we'll send you straight to the winner's circle.

Will your team come up High as a Kite?
Or Flat as a Pancake?

2015 Lookahead/Letdown Tracker Has The Answers
Track schedule stresses for edges vs. the line

The Lookahead/Letdown Tracker red flags over 20 REVENGE, RIVALRY, MUST-WIN, and SHOULD-LOSE situations for 2015.
So you'll know in advance which teams are due to surpass expectations, and who will fall short. It lets you pick winners right off the page. BEST OF ALL, THE TRACKER IS FREE for signing up for the football season. Call 1-800-323-4453 to get your copy today.




Normally it's not a good thing to get into the summer months and not know yet who your starting quarterback is going to be, but it's really NBD (no big deal) at OHIO STATE.

In fact, the defending champion Buckeyes (14-1 last year) have three high-quality quarterbacks who could start this year - Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones - and you could make the case that any/all of the above could steer O-State to a second straight national title but what's head coach Urban Meyer gonna do?

Well, if he listens to Barrett's dad, then Miller should start ... say what?

That's right, the one-time Heisman Trophy candidate who only lost his starting job because of injury is in his final season at Columbus - note that Barrett is just a redshirt sophomore and the burly Jones is a redshirt junior - and if you go by that old football axiom that you shouldn't lose your starting job because of injuries, than it figures to be "Miller Time" but the elder Barrett did suggest that if either his son (injured last year in the Michigan game in late November) or Jones (who led playoff wins against Alabama and Oregon) are good enough to beat Miller out, than either Barrett or Jones should be No. 1. Stay tuned!

No matter who starts under center for Ohio State this year, this Big 10 crew heads into the 2015 season ranked #1 - a ranking it never held a year ago until finally beating Oregon 42-20 as 6-point underdogs in the College Football Championship Game - but what about the other teams that figure to give chase for this year's crown?

Here's a look at - what we believe - are Ohio State's five biggest threats to winning this year's crown with last year's SU (straight-up) records included alongside:

ALABAMA (12-2) actually sported a 21-6 lead over Ohio State in last year's Sugar Bowl game (a/k/a the national semifinals) but everything fell apart for Nick Saban's crew in that 42-35 loss as 7.5-point favorites and so no wonder there's major concern regarding this Crimson Tide defense that also allowed 40-plus points in a wild 55-44 win/cover against archrival Auburn. Maybe veteran ILB Reggie Ragland can pull things together for a 'Bama stop unit that could be leaky in the secondary once again.

TCU (12-1) comes off a monster year in more ways than one - the Horned Frogs piled up lots of greenbacks en route to a spiffy 11-2 ATS (against the spread) record - and folks in Fort Worth are whispering this year will be even better. No question QB Trevone Boykin (3,901 yards passing with 33 TD passes) should be on everyone's short list for this year's Heisman Trophy but can TCU win road games at Minnesota, Kansas State and Oklahoma?

OREGON (13-2) has won 60 games overall the past five years but zero national championships - last year's painful 22-point loss to Ohio State was a major embarrassment and that 22-19 loss to Auburn in the 2010 BCS Championship Game didn't feel so great either and so now this Pac-12 club must pick itself up by his glittery high tops and look to make another run to No. 1. Let's just say if third-year head coach Mark Helfrich can't decide by early September whether Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams, Jr. or Jeff Lockie (the backup to Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota last year) should be starting, then things could get messy.

BAYLOR (11-2) piled up 627 points a year ago (or 48.2 ppg) while leading the nation in total offense but the Bears surrendered 41 and 42 points in those losses versus West Virginia and Michigan State (the latter a come-from-way-behind late win by Sparty in the Cotton Bowl) and so boning up the "D" is critical if this Big 12 team wants to be in the hunt for a national title this year. Say bye-bye to record-breaking QB Bryce Petty and hello to Seth Russell who did toss eight TDs a year ago in reserve duty.

AUBURN (8-5) was a major money-burner a year ago while going 4-9 versus the vig - perhaps War Eagle was an overrated item going into the 2014 season? Well, flip forward to the here-and-now and the Tigers are getting plenty of preseason hype, thanks in large part to the team's new/old defensive coordinator Will Muschamp who served as Auburn's DC back in 2006-07 when this SEC gang rolled up a composite 20-6 SU mark. If Gus Malzahn's fast-paced offense starring QB Jeremy Johnson (28-of-37 passing last year) can score anywhere near the 35.5 ppg average from a year ago, watch out!




Okay, so you see how College Football Preseason Top 10 - you might prefer to call 'em the "usual suspects" - but keep in mind there's always a couple of teams that come out of the blue ... remember that last year TCU was listed among the "others receiving votes" in the Associated Press Top 25 poll prior to that aforementioned terrific 12-win season.

So, who should we all be paying attention to as potential "sleepers" come 2015? Here's a trio of teams that could be poll-climbers this year ...

ARKANSAS (7-6) fits the bill in terms of one thing we look for and that's a talented team that closes out the previous campaign with lots of positive momentum. The Hogs covered five of their final six games last year (and went 10-3 vig-wise overall in 2014) and they return both 1,000-plus yard running backs Jonathan Williams (1,190 yards rushing with 12 TDs) and Alex Collins (1,100 rushing yards with 12 TDs).

CINCINNATI (9-4) had all winter to absorb that 33-17 loss to Virginia Tech in last year's Military Bowl game but Tommy Tuberville's crew accomplished plenty while going 6-1-1 spreadwise in the team's final eight games. Now, a fully-stocked Bearcats bunch starring QB Gunner Kiel (3,254 yards passing with 31 TDs) should enjoy a special season that may include some football in January.

STANFORD (8-5) is considered a borderline Top 25 team this year but take note that the Cardinal - who won/covered its final three games last year including a resounding 45-21 triumph over Maryland in the San Francisco Bowl - bring back all 11 offensive starters and that's a unit that really perked up late in the year behind QB Kevin Hogan. If Stanford's somewhat retooled defense can rise up behind key LB Blake Martinez, then maybe early-season road wins at USC and/or Oregon State could lead to a memorable year on "The Farm".


Let's zip around the nation and get you quick-hitter looks at all the major conferences/leagues:


  • The Favorite: Cincinnati can still be a national "sleeper" and the Kiel-to-WR Shaq Washington tandem figures to wreck major havoc on this AAC field.
  • Most Likely to Disappoint: Memphis will discover what it's likely when it is the one with a bulls-eye on its back.
  • Fun Story: Navy has joined the AAC and option QB Keenan Reynolds (1,191 yards rushing last year) could edge his way into the Heisman Trophy race.


  • The Favorite: Georgia Tech gets our "Fav" nod over Florida State thanks to the fact Paul Johnson's squad (10-4 ATS last year) really fine-tuned that flex-bone attack and the Yellow Jackets get a home game against the FSU Seminoles.
  • Dark Horse: N.C. State finally turned the corner last year and now make-it-happen QB Jacoby Brissett will become a national name.
  • Under-the-Microscope: Florida State QB Sean Maguire steps into the shoes of one-time Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston and it's put-up or shut-up time for this one-time popular backup.

BIG 10

  • The Favorite: Ohio State has plenty of ammo besides this current three-headed QB monster (remember RB Ezekiel Elliott?) and DE Joey Bosa will make plenty of Big 10 slingers sweat this fall.
  • Going Down?: The Iowa Hawkeyes have not won a bowl game since 2010 and there's lots of in-the-know folks that believe Kirk Ferentz's club will see the bottom fall out this '15 season ... can a veteran defense save the day?
  • Pointspread Fact: Believe it or not, since the start of the 2008 season, Michigan is a collective 34-49-2 against the Las Vegas prices while archrival Michigan State is a tasty 32-19-1 ATS the past four years.

BIG 12

  • The Favorite: TCU scored 40-plus points in nine different games last year and head coach Gary Patterson's club may be more effective/efficient on offense this time around ... whoa, Nellie!
  • Game of the Year: If we get to November 27th with TCU and Baylor at the top of the Big 12 standings, than that showdown in Fort Worth will be a real blast (first team to 60 points wins!).
  • Defensive Player to Watch: In a league ruled by offensive players/high-scoring shootouts, we say keep eyes peeled on Baylor DE Shawn Oakman who stands 6-feet-9 inches tall and last year finished with 11 sacks.


  • The Best: Who else, Notre Dame? The Fighting Irish - just 8-5 SU a year ago - lost three games by four points or less a year ago and now head coach Brian Kelly is keeping fingers crossed that an inexperienced/untested kicking game doesn't cost ND in its close games in 2015.
  • Bowl Streak: The BYU Cougars have played in 10 consecutive post-season bowl games (they're 6-4 SU and 5-4-1 ATS) but Bronco Mendenhall's club is only going back to the bowl wars if they don't get slam-dunked the first month of play when BYU is at Nebraska, home to Boise State and then at UCLA and Michigan all before the end of September.
  • Best Player on a Bad Team: Army LB Jeremy Timpf piled up 117 tackles and three INTs last year for a Black Knights squad that hasn't had a winning year since 2010.


  • The Favorite: Boise State finished last year 12-2 SU and riding a nine-game winning streak that included a hang-on-for-dear-life 38-30 win against 2.5-point fav Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl. Now, a polished offensive line will lead the blue turfers this year with tiny WR Shane Williams-Rhodes a real go-getter on deep chucks.
  • The Hot Seat: Gotta admit that both New Mexico head coach Bob Davie (11-26 SU in three years in Albuquerque) and Hawaii's Norm Chow (8-29 in his three seasons in Honolulu) will be goners unless they can get their teams at/close to the .500 marks this year.
  • Non-Conference Road Hazard: Take your pick as Boise State has a Sept. 25th road tilt at Virginia; Utah State is at Washington on Sept. 19th on the same day Air Force plays at Michigan State; and don't forget Fresno State plays at Ole Miss on Sept. 12th.


  • The Favorite: Oregon has played in two national championship games, a Rose Bowl and a Fiesta Bowl in the past five years and so the Ducks have separated themselves from the "Pac" but just how quickly the gang from Eugene acclimates to the new QB could be what makes or breaks its season.
  • Dark Horse: Arizona State is loaded with veteran defensive talent and fourth-year head coach Todd Graham's club could be ready to "mature" and remember ASU gets both USC and Oregon in the desert this year.
  • Pointspread Misery for the States: Last year the Oregon State Beavers finished up 1-9-1 against the odds (the lone cover was a 35-27 victory against 7.5-point road fav Arizona State) while Washington State bumbled its way to a 4-8 ATS mark that "featured" six spread setbacks in the Cougars' final seven games.


  • The Favorite: Alabama finds itself rated beneath arch-enemy Auburn in most preseason polls but Crimson Tide boss-man Nick Saban is gonna get back to basics this year with lots of running behind a pro-type line and lots of those carries will be by 242-pound RB Derrick Henry.
  • QB in the Spotlight: We know, you could put any of the SEC's 14 starting quarterbacks listed here but Missouri's Maty Mauk gets our attention after the Tigers made it to the SEC Championship Game the past two years (a 17-point loss to Auburn in 2013 and a 29-point loss to Alabama last year) - if he's special than Mizzou goes back to Hot-lanta one mo' time.
  • Gator Bait?: New coach Jim McElwain would love to get an early-December SEC Championship Game showdown against old 'Bama pal Saban but a mid-season death march schedule including home games against Tennessee and Ole Miss followed by road tilts at Missouri and LSU - and then the neutral site game against Georgia - could puncture a major hole in Florida's winning plans. Steady now, Gator fans!

Early-Bird Prices On 2015 Network Football Won't Last Long
First-Come, First Served - Call Today 1-800-323-4453.


Jim Hurley's Network Bulletin NFL Power Ratings will be updated each/every week this 2015 season plus soon we'll add our NCAA Football Power Ratings. To assess what the pointspread should be for a specific game, simply follow this example: Let's say the Houston Texans are at the Arizona Cardinals:

The Texans' overall power rating is 86 and the Cardinals are 88 and now we're going to add 3 points for Arizona's home-field advantage. Note then the coach's rating is 3 for Houston and 4 for Arizona ... so add another point to the Cardinals. Overall, Arizona is 95 and Houston is 89. So, we say the Cardinals - according to our figures - Arizona should be a 6-point home betting favorite.


Green Bay9644
Kansas City8733
New England9744
New Orleans8733
NY Giants8633
NY Jets8333
St. Louis8443
San Diego8733
San Francisco8623
Tampa Bay8233


Jim Hurley's NFL PRESEASON PICKS & PREVIEWS are based on information obtained prior to press time. To get all the firmed-up game-day NFL Preseason winners, check with us at the exclusive toll-free # of 1-800-323-4453 or online at after 10am ET on weekends and after 1pm ET for the weeknight games.

PITTSBURGH vs. MINNESOTA (at Canton, OH): Annual NFL Hall of Fame Game but you know the deal as the "stars" only play a series or two at most and remember the Vikings (as per usual) won't be playing re-instated RB Peterson at all this summer. Check out the Steelers' new looks on defense as DC Butler replaces legendary coordinator LeBeau and wonder if he's gonna bring the blitz early against Minny's second-year QB Bridgewater. Good opportunity for Pittsburgh to play young RB Archer because RB Bell will miss the first three games of regular-season action with a suspension.

Hall of Fame Game Kicks off the Preseason
Steelers vs. Vikings (NBC) Sunday Night August 9
Free with a season subscription.


NEW ORLEANS at BALTIMORE: The Saints shook up the nest a bit when they traded TE Graham to Seattle for a late first-round draft pick and so N'Orleans is looking to see who will be the go-to guys here this season but don't expect 15-year vet QB Brees to play more than a single offensive series here while rookie QB Grayson gets plenty of snaps against Ravens' defense that ranked 23rd in the league in pass defense a year ago. P.S., we'll see if Baltimore's first-round draft pick WR Perriman can get over his "dropsies" that have plagued 'em in camp. Baltimore 20, New Orleans 13.

NY GIANTS at CINCINNATI: It's gonna be a real interesting summer for the Giants who are keeping fingers crossed that rookie LT Flowers will be the answer along this re-jiggered O-line while Cincy has designs on throwing the ball more in these preseason games after the Bengals ranked just 21st in the NFL in passing a year ago. Still, Cincinnati won't play much-maligned QB Dalton here and instead will go with the Johnson/Wenning combo under center and gotta feeling Giants' defense will cave in the pocket and batter both slingers. Maybe DL Pierre-Paul has a little "something to prove" to the NYG front office while he goes through contract hassles? Call it NY Giants 20, Cincinnati 15.

DENVER at SEATTLE: Surely get the feeling that the Seahawks will be asleep at the wheel this preseason after spending last six months fully digesting that ultra-painful Super Bowl loss to New England but before you get any ideas that the "Broncos plus points" are the way to go here, consider this is brand new season for the AFC West gang with HC Kubiak replacing four-year coach Fox and with QB Manning and lots of offensive folks not expected to get many (if any) snaps here. Still, there's things in the preseason we all can learn even when sitting a game out and so let's take some mental notes here and see if Seattle has any interest at all in playing four exhibition games this summer.

SAN FRANCISCO at HOUSTON: Remember the Texans are the subject of this year's HBO "Hard Knocks" series and gotta believe second-year HC O'Brien wants his guys to put best foot forward here against 49ers team riddled with offseason retirements and assorted other personnel changes. Look for Houston QB Hoyer to get in a couple of series here and unload some downfield strikes while San Fran won't expose QB Kaepernick all that much. Hey, this one could get out of hand if new Niners' HC Tomsula (the team's former defensive line coach) is more intent on getting snaps for all his new players. The Texans - we believe - will be playing for keeps this summer. Houston 25, San Francisco 10.

INDIANAPOLIS at PHILADELPHIA: Get ready to see lots of Eagles' backup QBs here (that's Sanchez, Tebow, Barkley and Kinne) and not much of new starter Bradford who's been slowed in practice by his post-surgery knee woes. The flip side says the visiting Colts - one of the NFL's deepest teams around - want to spend plenty of preseason time eyeballing rookie WR Dorsett (he could be a major game-breaker down the road with QB Luck) plus remember Indy drafted five defensive players among its first six picks and so this winds up your glorified scrimmage of sorts ... pass!


Lots of pro football topics to tackle in our first Jim Hurley Network Bulletin of the season, but let's get things revved up with ...


JOHN FOX, Chicago Bears - Gotta admit we still don't know why everything crumbled the way it did in Denver (see lifeless 24-13 loss in the AFC Divisional Playoffs against 9.5-point underdog Indianapolis) but the truth is the four-year run in the Mile High City produced 49 regular-season wins (against just 22 losses) but a meek 3-4 post-season mark. Still, Fox is a winner and a master communicator (especially with his defenses) and he could flip the switch in Year One and make the Bears a 10-win team if things break right and if QB Cutler hits a few home runs.

JACK DEL RIO, Oakland Raiders - Believe what you want, but we rate Del Rio as a "better hire" for his team than anyone else out there save for Fox-to-the-Bears and here's one reason why: The silver-and-black need an established coach and a booming voice to turn the beat around and Del Rio is a "B+" type hire who will have a positive effect on this defense that last year allowed 47, 52, 41 and 38 points and was among the league's worst stop units in a 3-13 season.

REX RYAN, Buffalo Bills - No doubt the yappy former coach of the New York Jets came equipped to western New York with all his (tired) one-liners but this defensive whiz does figure to fine-tune an already stout stop unit but where in Ryan's history has he or his staff worked wonders with their own quarterbacks? Remember that Ryan's already "guaranteed" a playoff berth for the starving Bills fans.

TODD BOWLES, New York Jets - The new regime in NYC including GM Mike Maccagnan must be viewed as a tandem of sorts and we believe the jury is very much out on both gentlemen even though re-joining CB Darrell Revis with the J-E-T-S will make things go a bit more smoothly for gang green. Bowles has paid his dues as an NFL assistant - for sure -- and was wonderful as the DC in Arizona but not about to hand out any gold stars just yet and we could see some major growing pains.

GARY KUBIAK, Denver Broncos - Maybe this is too much a case of the "buddy system" with team boss John Elway wanting his old pal back in town but we rate Kubiak no more than an average head coach (our classroom grade would be a "C") despite a couple of playoff years in Houston in 2011 and '12. Sorry, just don't think this is the best short- or long-term fit for the Broncos as Kubiak falls in the "recycled coach" category.

JIM TOMSULA, San Francisco 49ers - If this relative unknown has a "positive" working for 'em it's that the Niners' defense loves the guy and that's got to count for something but all those retirements, defections, etc. will smack San Fan upside the helmet this year and - let's face it - if you could choose between Jim Harbaugh and almost any NFL head coach you probably would take the khaki-wearing Harbaugh, right?

DAN QUINN, Atlanta Falcons - The NFL's hottest assistant heading into last year's Super Bowl, this former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator has a yeoman's job ahead for a defense that allowed 29-or-more points in six different games last year and it's not as if CB Richard Sherman or S Earl Thomas is "walking through the door" at any moment to help this unit. Here's a word of advice to Mr. Quinn ... be patient!


Here's a little refresher course on the NFL's Pointspread Booms last year ...

  • Arizona went 11-6 ATS (against the spread) last year including a nifty 8-4 spread mark as underdogs
  • Dallas registered an 11-7 spread log last season but note the Cowboys covered 8-of-9 road games
  • Houston banged out a 9-5-2 ATS season in 2014 and that included a 6-1-1 ATS mark as betting favorites
  • Indianapolis finished last year at 12-6-1 vig-wise and that included a 10-4-1 ATS mark in AFC play
  • Kansas City pounded out a 10-5-1 spread log last year and did you know the Chiefs were 6-2 ATS at home?
  • Minnesota wound up 10-6 ATS a year ago after covering five of its final six games


Let's zip through the Super Bowl 50 Odds to Win it All  (all prices below are based on $100 per-play):

Seattle6-1The betting favs must overcome Super Bowl hangover
Green Bay7-1Packers have plenty of ammo for QB Rodgers
New England8-1Defending SB champs filled with new faces
Indianapolis9-1The next step in the march is SB 50, right?
Dallas12-1SB or bust for QB Romo and mates
Denver12-1Don't believe Manning trade talk at all
Philadelphia20-1The Chip Kelly Experiment begins now
Baltimore25-1Ravens could be major sleepers in '15
Pittsburgh25-1Zero playoff wins the past four years
Arizona30-1Can QB Palmer stay in one piece?
Cincinnati35-1Wake us when Bengals win in playoffs
NY Giants35-1"Lame duck" year for QB Manning is trouble
St. Louis35-1Rams could be major movers-and-shakers
Detroit40-1Lions take a huge step backwards
Kansas City40-1Lots of QB Smith questions still
Miami40-1The Fish could be bargains here
New Orleans 40-1Has "window of opportunity" closed?
Atlanta45-1QB Ryan-to-WR Jones not enough
Carolina45-1Is this monster year for QB Newton?
Chicago45-1New boss Fox changes culture
Buffalo50-1Bills' offense (QB) bogs 'em down
Houston50-1The HBO Hard Knocks crew a sleeper?
Minnesota50-1Vikes a handful with two-pronged attack
NY Jets50-1Green gang still searching for a true QB
San Diego50-1Is this the last hurrah before moving to LA?
San Francisco 50-1Post-Harbaugh Era has lots of new faces
Cleveland100-1Johnny Football to the rescue?
Oakland100-1Talk about your "black holes"
Tampa Bay125-1It's your team now, QB Jameis Winston
Washington125-1Hard to believe 'Skins have gone 7 years with no playoffs
Tennessee200-1Sorry to say Titans may yet have hit rock bottom
Jacksonville250-1Nine wins in last 3 years ... ugh

Call 1-800-323-4453


Today’s Hot Plays