Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, August 19, 2011 at 9:32 AM
CHECK OUT SOME OF TONIGHT'S NFL PRESEASON WEEK 2 PREVIEWS AS WE TACKLE LIONS-BROWNS, CARDINALS PACKERS & THE FOX-TV TILT BETWEEN FALCONS-JAGUARS PLUS A LOOK BACK AT THURSDAY'S WINS BY THE PATS AND STEELERS
By Jim Hurley:
There are Six (6) NFL Preseason Week 2 Games on tonight's docket and we're gonna tackle half of 'em in this edition of Jim Sez ...so here goes (note the other games tonight include Washington at Indianapolis, Carolina at Miami and Kansas City at Baltimore):
DETROIT at CLEVELAND - 7:30 p.m. ET
One thing that came through loud-and-clear regarding last week's 27-17 Browns' win/cover against 2 ½-point road underdog Green Bay was just how comfortable second-year Cleveland QB Colt McCoy felt in new coach Pat Shurmur's offensive playbook. McCoy - who worked out with iconic QB Brett Favre this past offseason - completed 9-of-10 passes for 135 yards and one touchdown (a 27-yard strike to WR Josh Cribbs) in the win against the Pack but might he be a tad distracted here considering the Browns just "leaked" word that they would be attending the Saturday workout of NFL supplemental draft eligible QB Terrelle Pryor (Ohio State)? Hmmm.
Meanwhile, not many teams looked sharper in their Preseason opener last week than the Detroit Lions who put a 34-3 whipping on the backsides of the Cincinnati Bengals. The Lions won't know if CBs Chris Houston (groin) and Eric Wright (groin, too) will play until they complete pre-game warm-ups while DT Nick Fairley (Auburn) is definitely out here and thus the progress that Fairley was making with sidekick DL Ndamukong Suh - coming off his third NFL fine for throwing down an opposing player - has been stunted.
Spread Notes - Last year's Lions split their two NFL Preseason games when in the underdog role as the Motowners fell 23-7 at 3-point favorite Pittsburgh in a Week 1 affair and one week later downed 3-point home fav Denver 25-20. On the flip side, the Browns have "Preseason revenge" here after Detroit (- 3) scored a 35-27 victory last August 28th at Ford Field ...remember?
ARIZONA at GREEN BAY - 8 p.m. ET
Interesting to see that the GB Packers are currently listed as a 6-point betting favorite for this prime-time tilt at Lambeau Field - one of the meatiest Las Vegas lines of the weekend including Baltimore (- 6 ½) over Kansas City, Miami (- 6) versus Carolina and the New York Jets (- 6) over Cincinnati on Sunday Nite) - and there aren't any real position battles going on save for the left guard spot where rookie Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State) must show he can fend off the challenges of T.J. Lang. The Pack figures to play Super Bowl hero QB Aaron Rodgers a bit more than was the case last week when he completed 6-of-8 passes for 74 yards including a 21-yard scoring strike to WR Greg Jennings (thus earning himself a lofty 142.7 QB rating in that 27-17 loss to the Browns).
The 'Zona Cardinals, on the other hand, have a slew of position battles to be decided this summer and one of 'em is at ILB where Paris Lenon and ex-Philadelphia star Stewart Bradley are immersed in a battle for starter's minutes. Lenon led the Cards in tackles last year with 127 stops but Stewart is bigger/stronger and considered more athletic and so it's worth watching how these two ILBs handle the Packers' screen passes here
Spread Notes - The defending Super Bowl champion Packers should take heart 'cause they lost their Preseason opener a year ago 27-24 to 3-point road underdog Cleveland. However, it's worth noting that Green Bay followed up that 2010 Preseason Week 1 loss with three consecutive pointspread wins including a whopping 59-24 home win against Indianapolis (see Preseason Week 3 a year ago). Meanwhile, Arizona's covered four of its last five Preseason tilts overall dating back to the start of last summer and that includes last week's aforementioned outright win in Oakland.
ATLANTA at JACKSONVILLE - 8 p.m. ET, Fox
Maybe you've heard ...the TV ratings for the first week of NFL Preseason games were "through the roof" (or as "through the roof" as can be for Preseason games!) and so there figures to be plenty of eyeballs checking out this battle in Northern Florida. Okay, so the host Jaguars are the real story here as Jack Del Rio - who seemingly has more lives than Morris the Cat - tries to right things with his club that hasn't made it to the post-season for the past three years in a row and last year totally collapsed while losing its final three consecutive regular-season games en route to an 8-8 SU (straight-up) season.
Here, the Jaguars will be without TE Zach Miller (knee) who figures to be out for at least two weeks - and remember that Miller suffered through ankle woes late last year and so maybe it's high time J'ville didn't count so much on him from this point forward. For his part, Del Rio shrugged off last week's miserable 47-12 loss in New England by claiming it was more important to play his entire roster than to play to win - but rookie QB Blaine Gabbert (Missouri) who was sacked three times by the Pats may be hoping for better blocking here while the Falcs' strategy figures to be blitzing early/often and testing this wobbly J-ville offensive line.
Remember ...we'll be watching!
Spread Notes - Last year these clubs collided in a Preseason Week 4 tilt that the 3-point home favored Jaguars won 13-9 (note the Las Vegas line moved there early in the week from Jacksonville - 1 ½ points to a solid FG and the price stayed there till the Thursday Nite kickoff). Also, take note that the Jags - 35-point losers at New England in Preseason Week 1 action last Thursday night - last year played a pair of one-point games in the Preseason and than had the other two tilts decided by 6 and 4 points, respectively.
Now hear this: Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers win with Sides & Totals all throughout the NFL Preseason - now America's #1 Handicapper will rock Las Vegas big-time all summer long! Plus, make sure to get all the Major-League Baseball Winners too each and every day -- just remember to call the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here and make sure you're all aboard for a summer filled with all our NFL Preseason and MLB winners! The calling/check-in times are after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays; anytime after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday Baseball action; and than anytime after 1 p.m. ET for all the weeknight action in both Football and Baseball. And don't forget that the 2011 NCAA Football Season swings into action on Thursday, September 1st with a batch of on-the-board games including TV tilts between UNLV at Wisconsin and Miss State at Memphis and so make sure you're all aboard for college gridiron winners!
P.S., there's a full slate on College Football Games set for Labor Day Weekend (that's September 2nd-through-September 5th) including key out-of-conference games between Boise State versus Georgia and Oregon-LSU.
In Thursday Nite NFL Preseason Week 2 action ...
NEW ENGLAND 31, TAMPA BAY 14 - It was game, set, match here faster than you can say Tom Brady as the Patriots piled up 21 first-quarter points en route to this runaway win and - if you're keeping track of such things - New England's now scored a grand total of 78 points in its first two Preseason games this summer and the AFC East crew has covered these two games by a collective 50 points!
Yes, the Pats were the game-time 1 ½-point underdog here although it's well worth noting Tampa Bay opened as a 3-point betting favorite and so the Las Vegas line moves continue to "mean something" this summer.
The aforementioned Brady completed 11-of-19 passing tries for 118 yards with two TDs and 0 INTs while Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman misfired on his first three passes en route to a shaky 5-of-10, 33-yard game ...is it back to the drawing board for the Bucs or perhaps are we ready to witness another 16-and-oh type season for N'England?
PITTSBURGH 24, PHILADELPHIA 14 - NFL Betting Favorites went to 13-5 ATS (against the spread) overall following this win/cover by the 3-point home favorite Steelers who opened as a 4-point choice and dropped a digit (wrong line move there, folks but the real story was the Pittsburgh defense that picked off four passes (three of 'em tossed by QB Michael Vick) and so no wonder Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was smiling afterwards.
Last week the Steelers laid down and played dead against QB Rex Grossman and the Washington Redskins in a 16-7 loss but here the AFC North club had the veterans play more minutes and the results were, well, predictable as S Troy Polamalu picked off one pass and LB James Harrison raised heck in the Eagles backfield.
P.S. strange stat of the night: Philly WR DeSean Jackson finished with two catches for - get this - 8 yards.
NOTE: Catch more NFL News/Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez plus get some Saturday Nite Game Previews including New Orleans at Houston and Oakland at San Francisco.