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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, August 12, 2011 at 12:17 AM

The New England Patriots scored 47 points Thursday Night and Tom Brady didn't even play! The Philadelphia Eagles looked sharp when its starters were on the field. Michael Vick led a TD drive and threw for 74 yards on just four completions. They say that you can't draw conclusions from Preseason action. The current betting favorites for the Super Bowl didn't give anyone any reasons to doubt their likely dominance in 2011.

VSM handicapper Wayne Root established his dominance out of the gate too! W.A.R. won his only Thursday Night football release with Seattle (+3.5) over San Diego 24-17 in the game you probably watched on ESPN. Nice to start the season with a double digit cover. Root also won his only baseball release on the Chicago White Sox (-130) over Baltimore 6-3, finishing off a two-sport board sweep.

NFL notes from the night...

*Philadelphia (-3.5/34) beat Baltimore 13-6 in a game that quieted down significantly once the backups were on the field.
The Ravens had a late chance for the cover but failed to get closer than the five-yard line on a last-second drive. Ravens rookie Tyrod Taylor from Virginia Tech saw a lot of action. He was 19-28-2-179, for a poor passer rating of 55.5. We'll be paying close attention to rookie QBs this month because they tend to get a lot of snaps in exhibition action.

*New England (-4/35.5) absolutely mauled Jacksonville 47-12. Even at less than full strength in terms of eventual starters, the Pats had TD drives of 49, 32, 82, 67, 80, and 31 yards. Some cheap points in there, but three TD drives of 67 or more too. Rookie Blaine Gabbert got the start for the Jags because of injuries higher up on the depth chart. He was 9-16-0-85, with a mediocre passer rating of 71.1. Ryan Mallett out of Arkansas saw snaps for the Pats. He was an effective 12-19-0-164 for a passer rating of 108.2. Note that New England was the top play Thursday from Kelso Sturgeon, a 10-unit winner.

*Seattle (+3.5/35) rallied from down in the fourth quarter for its win at San Diego. Wisconsin rookie Scott Tolzien fumbled in the pocket for the Chargers to set up Seattle's go-ahead TD. A last-second drive failed to find paydirt. Tolzien was 5-12-0-64 in the game, for a passer rating of 59.0. Passer rating doesn't count the fumble. Josh Portis of Seattle, a rookie free agent quarterback out of small California (PA) was 5-9-0-69 for a passer rating of 117.4. Keep an eye on Portis. Seattle is hoping they found a diamond in the rough.

*Dallas (-3.5/33) scored a late TD, then converted a two-point conversion to edge the Broncos 24-23. Three of these first four games saw the trailing team in the red zone in the final moments. Only the Cowboys broke were able to break through.

*Arizona at Oakland was a late starter that finished after this blog post. We'll include notes Friday Night with our evening update that will go up after Tampa Bay/Kansas City ends on FOX.

In pennant race baseball...

*Detroit (-170/7.5) beat Cleveland 4-3 on the arm of Justin Verlander. He had 10 strikeouts in seven innings. Verlander is now 17-5 on the year, with an ERA of 2.25. The Tigers avoid a sweep in this critical road series with the win. They still have to be concerned about winning when somebody besides Verlander is pitching! The Tigers are 18-8 in Verlander's starts, 44-47 with the rest of the rotation. Since July 21st, Detroit is 5-0 with Verlander, 6-9 with others.

*St. Louis (-130/7.5) beat Milwaukee 5-2 as Chris Carpenter outpitched Yovani Gallardo. The Cards avoid what would have been a devastating sweep at home, but are still four games out of first place.

*Earlier in the day the New York Yankees (-200/9.5) beat the LA Angels 6-5. Mariano Rivera continued his shaky form of the week by allowing a three-run homer in the top of the 9th to turn a 6-2 lead into a nailbiter. He was able to eventually convert his 30th save of the season. The Yankees are now one game behind idle Boston. The Angels fall to two games behind idle Texas.

*After a week that saw several head-to-head matchups amongst baseball contenders, there are NO matchups this weekend in that vein. Handicappers will have to look for value with contenders at affordable prices vs. non-contenders, or "live dog" spots with some teams who are still playing fairly well even if they no longer have realistic dreams for October.

Feel free to post any comments you think will help blog readers in football or baseball based on what you saw in Thursday action. VSM has created the first interactive handicapping blog in the industry! We'll be back shortly with another NFL divisional preview from JIM HURLEY'S NOTEBOOK. Look for more news Friday afternoon. And, we'll be back again late Friday Night to look at key developments in NFL Preseason action...



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