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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 9:02 AM


By Jim Hurley:

In case you were wondering, NFL Home Teams banged out a rock-solid 11-5 ATS (against the spread) mark in Preseason Week 1 games last week - now the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Pittsburgh Steelers are hoping that particular one-week "trend" continues here tonight.

The Bucs - who host the New England Patriots this evening - continue to put in place the so-called building blocks for this franchise on the rise and note in last year's NFL Preseason action T-Bay split its home games:

There was a 20-15 win/cover against 2-point pup Kansas City in a Week 2 tilt followed by a 19-13 home loss to 3-point fav Jacksonville in Preseason Week 3 action.

Meanwhile, the Steelers - who, of course, would go on to represent the AFC in last year's Super Bowl - won/covered both of their home Preseason games in the summer of 2010 as the AFC North crew first battered 3-point underdog Detroit 23-7 in a Preseason Week 1 affair and then later on downed 6 ½-point underdog Carolina 19-3 in a Preseason Week 4 bash.

Just thought you'd like to know, okay!

Now, here's what we're watching for tonight with a reminder that there are Six (6) NFL Preseason tilts on tomorrow's docket - including the Fox-TV tilt between the Atlanta Falcons at the Jacksonville Jaguars - plus Five (5) more games Saturday including the Battle of the Bay between Oakland at San Francisco, Two (2) more on Sunday featuring the NBC showdown between San Diego at Dallas and than the Monday Night Football game between the Chicago Bears at the New York Giants on ESPN. And you thought the TV networks didn't want to have anything to do with the NFL Preseason!



NEW ENGLAND at TAMPA BAY -- 7:30 p.m. ET
One week after the Patriots rang up an NFL Preseason Week 1-high 47 points in crushing Jacksonville without QB Tom Brady in the lineup, look for New England to pop Brady back into place here although he probably won't play beyond the first quarter.

One of the real stories on this New England roster is who gets more touches at running back: Will incumbent starter RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis or rookie Stevan Ridley (LSU) be a first-stringer when all the dust settles in early September? Note that Ridley scored three TDs in last week's 47-12 torch-job win against the Jaguars. Something tells us the "leader" will be decided by this evening's performance at Raymond James Stadium.

Tampa Bay, on the other hand, loved everything about its defense in that Preseason-opening 25-0 triumph at Kansas City but what about the fact young QB Josh Freeman put points on the board in three of TB's four offensive possessions? Freeman finished the game in KC by completing 9-of-13 passes for 73 yards and he figures to get 25-plus snaps here and than he's slated to turn things over to backup Josh Johnson who aired seven completions in 12 passing attempts for 108 yards and one TD against the Chiefs.

Spread Notes - Last year's NE Patriots went 1-0-1 ATS (against the spread) as NFL Preseason underdogs as the AFC East crew swamped 3-point home favorite Atlanta 28-10 and than "pushed" in a 20-17 loss at the 3-point favorite New York Giants. On the flip side, Tampa Bay last week threw the only 2011 Preseason Week 1 shutout as the 2-point favored Bucs blanked Kansas City.

Maybe it's already starting to rub NFL folks the wrong way that this 2011 edition of the Philly Eagles is being referred to as the "Dream Team" but monikors can be hard to break - now the NFC East crew (and the favorite to get to this year's Super Bowl over defending champ Green Bay) is hoping for a dreamy return to the field for WR DeSean Jackson who has practiced just a few times after finally ending his holdout last weekend.

To hear Philadelphia QB Michael Vick tell it, the Pro Bowl pass-catcher and return specialist didn't miss a beat: "We just picked up where we left off last year," said Vick who threw for 74 yards and a 3-yard scoring toss to TE Brent Celek in his only series in last Thursday's 13-6 triumph over 3-point road underdog Baltimore.

If you are watching for anything specific with these Steelers here in Preseason Week 2, than check out rookie DE Cameron Heyward (Ohio State) who was an absolute monster in his first Preseason game last week in Landover. Heyward - who has scuffled plenty with teammates in practices the past two weeks - will be looking to make a bee-line right towards Vick and Philly's backup quarterbacks here and so don't be surprised if the Eagles use some delayed screen passes his way.

Spread Notes - Philadelphia is a blistering 10-2 ATS in Preseason Week 2 games the past dozen years but note that last year the Eagles were crushed 22-9 by 2 ½-point home fav Cincinnati in Week 2 action. Note that Pittsburgh covered three of its four Preseason games a year ago but the Steelers already are 0-1 spreadwise this summer following last week's 16-7 loss at 2 ½-point fav Washington.

Editor's Note: One final spread-related note regarding the NFL Preseason Week 1 games: Overall, Las Vegas line moves registered a 9-5 mark meaning that nine games that saw the line shift as little as ½-point turned out to be the "right" moves while five games saw "wrong" line moves with the single-biggest move coming in Tampa Bay's aforementioned 25-0 win at Kansas City when the Bucs opened as a 2-point underdog and went to a 2-point betting favorite by game time.

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!

NOTE: Catch more NFL News/Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez plus get some Friday Nite Game Previews.

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