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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, August 26, 2011 at 12:13 AM

Kelso Sturgeon won his 50-unit NFL Preseason Game of the Year Thursday Night on the Philadelphia Eagles (-7) over the Cleveland Browns 24-14. Philadelphia was up 24-0 through three quarters over the intimidated Browns before garbage time scoring shrunk the margin.

Intimidated? Browns quarterback Colt McCoy threw an interception and only completed 50% of his passes on his worst night this month. Cleveland muffed two punts!

Congrats to all of you who cashed this ticket along with Kelso. Jim Hurley’s Network also had a big play on the Eagles. It didn’t grade out quite as large in Vegas "betting units" as did prior winners on the NY Giants over Chicago this past Monday and Cleveland over Green Bay back in Week One. But, it was the third biggest release to date. Hurley is right at 60% overall in the Preseason, with his top three releases all getting the money.

 

Let’s run the numbers from Thursday Night’s football…

PHILADELPHIA 24, CLEVELAND 14

  • Total Yards: Cleveland 242, Philadelphia 285
  • Rushing Yards: Cleveland 103, Philadelphia 147
  • Yards-Per-Play: Cleveland 4.6, Philadelphia 4.5
  • Third Downs: Cleveland 33%, Philadelphia 40%
  • Turnovers: Cleveland 3, Philadelphia 2

Cleveland wasn’t even close to 200 yards through three quarters, padding their total yardage and YPP against the Eagles backups once the game was long decided. Rushing Yardage, Third Downs, and Turnovers tell the story best. The Eagles forced miscues and took advantage of them. Michael Vick ran for a touchdown, but was a disappointing 10-18-0-98 in the air for a passer rating of 71.1. The Eagles need better than that from him throwing the ball at home against non-playoff teams. And, in the playoffs, quality opponents will take away the run and make him throw. Philly’s defense was the star of the game, forcing McCoy to a 9-18-1-89 passing line and a 41.2 passer rating.

Get ready for some high prices at home for the Eagles once the regular season begins. They were -7 here, and tripled the spread before garbage time.

CINCINNATI 24, CAROLINA 13

  • Total Yards: Carolina 203, Cincinnati 356
  • Rushing Yards: Carolina 108, Cincinnati 191
  • Yards-Per-Play: Carolina 3.8, Cincinnati 5.2
  • Third Downs: Carolina 33%, Cincinnati 46%
  • Turnovers: Carolina 1, Cincinnati 2

Across the board dominance here for the Bengals, outside of the turnover category. Sharp night for Andy Dalton. He’s been inconsistent this summer. But, he at least showed he can beat a 2-14 team with a passing line of  11-17-0-130 and a passer rating of 107.5 Cam Newton continued a very erratic summer with a 6-19-0-75 performance. His passer rating was just 44.8. Like Vick, Newton used his legs to run for a touchdown. In three games…facing Preseason defenses, Newton is a horrendous 21 of 52 passing. Scary to think about what might happen against motivated defenses. For now, both of these teams should be near the bottom of the league in your Power Ratings. Carolina may have real troubles being competitive in their transition year under a new head coach and a scatter-armed rookie quarterback. Note that Wayne Root hit his sixth straight Millionaire play of the Preseason with Cincinnati -2.5.

BALTIMORE 34, WASHINGTON 31

  • Total Yards: Washington 341, Baltimore 452
  • Rushing Yards: Washington 103, Baltimore 138
  • Yards-Per-Play: Washington 5.9, Baltimore 5.9
  • Third Downs: Washington 27%, Baltimore 38%
  • Turnovers: Washington 2, Baltimore 2

You probably watched this one on ESPN. A lot more wide open than you’d see in a regular season meeting. Baltimore threw 45 passes! Washington put up 33 as Rex Grossman and John Beck continued their quarterback war to see which unqualified arm will create false hope for a couple of weeks. Baltimore won time of possessions 35-25, which helped them create an edge in volume stats. Yards-per-play was the same. The Ravens did do a better job on third downs, as would be expected for an AFC playoff team hosting an NFC non-playoff team.

In the baseball pennant races…

Which is more impressive?

  • *The Yankees outscored Oakland 21-2 in the last six innings today.
  • *The Red Sox outscored Texas 30-7 over the course of three road games.

Amazing firepower from both superpowers! Boston remains one game ahead in the AL East thanks to their 6-0 shutout in Arlington. New York was the site of a shootout rather than a shutout. The Yanks fell behind the A’s 7-1, before storming to a 22-9 rout. The Yanks hit three grand slam homers.

That loss by Texas brought the idle Los Angeles Angels to within two games of first place in the AL West.

Detroit added a half a game to its AL Central lead with a 2-0 road win at Tampa Bay. Another strong outing for newly acquired Doug Fister. Detroit leads Cleveland by 6.5 games, and the Chicago White Sox by seven in a division that only has one team over .500.

Over in the National League, Arizona held serve with an 8-1 win at Washington. That’s three straight victories for the D-backs to finish off their 10-game road gauntlet. A 4-6 mark is far from a disaster…particularly with San Francisco sputtering in second place in the NL West. The Giants game with the Astros will finish after publication deadlines.

Back with you Friday in the blog to talk more football. The Network Notebook will finish its eight-part series of divisional previews with the AFC South. That will get you ready for Indianapolis vs. Green Bay in the national TV game on CBS. The sharps weren’t active today in Vegas Preseason betting…so we pushed back Nick Bogdanovich’s market report to Friday afternoon. Wayne Root is scheduled to check in too. Who knows what else might pop up?!

Thanks for being a VSM blog reader. Congrats again to Kelso Sturgeon for his easy PRESEASON GAME OF THE YEAR winner!

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