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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, August 10, 2012 at 1:46 PM

Talk about your raw emotion at "The Link" last night!

As if it wasn't enough for Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid to return to the sidelines less than five days after his eldest son Garrett died last weekend, there was the at-the-time shocking revelation that Philly QB Michael Vick might have broken his passing thumb on the helmet of center Jason Kelce -it sure looked as if Vick had done serious damage to the digit but X-rays came back negative and the City of Brotherly Love sighed in unison (even though third-string QB Nick Foles aired a pair of long touchdown passes in the Eagles' come-from-behind 24-23 win).

Toss into the mix last night the sight of QB Peyton Manning in the uniform of the Denver Broncos -yes, it still seemed strange even after watching his practice sessions the last few days -and don't be fooled by that rather pedestrian 4-of-7, 44-yard passing stat line that also included a goal-line interception. The truth of the matter is Manning looked super-sharp -especially for someone that didn't play a single NFL down a year ago -and he rifled a few on-the-money strikes that moved the chains on three different occasions and it already appears there is a rapport with gritty wide-out Eric Decker who snagged Manning aerials that covered 10 and 19 yards.

On a night when Chicago fans got to boo former Bears backup-turned-starter QB Caleb Hanie (the current Broncos reserve completed 7-of-14 passes for 79 yards) plenty, it was Manning's return to the field that perked up Denver's 31-3 win in rainy Chitown ...and don't you just know that the Broncos took action today at the "win-it-all" windows in Las Vegas!

Overall, last night's NFL Preseason Week 1 results saw Betting Favorites go a rotten 1-4-1 ATS (against the spread) with 2 ½-point fav San Diego's 21-13 triumph against Green Bay marking the chalk's only winner and so we enter this evening's action with Betting Favs at 2-4-1 ATS overall while totals players know that "over" sides are an ugly 2-5 spreadwise right out of the preseason starting gate (note that includes last weekend's 17-10 Hall of Fame Game win by New Orleans over Arizona).

Now, here's a look at Saturday's NFL Preseason Week 1 games:

HOUSTON at CAROLINA -7 p.m. ET, NFL Network

Word out of the Lone Star State yesterday was that Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said expect starters to get in on somewhere between 12-to-15 plays in this preseason bash in Charlotte and that does include LB Brian Cushing who spent two nights in a hospital this past week with virus-related problems.

In truth, Cushing might only play a handful of snaps here but be sure the Texans' coaching staff will be eyeballing rookie OLB Whitney Mercilus (Illinois) who is expected to make an instant impact as a pass rusher after he collected a nation's best 16 quarterback sacks in college a year ago.

If you're looking for a storyline regarding the Panthers than note Carolina needs to check out its depth at linebacker'cause starting MLB Jon Beason is out with a hamstring injury. The three-time Pro Bowl player is coming off an Achilles injury that ended his 2011 campaign. Note that last year Carolina finished a crummy 25th in the league in rush defense (allowed nearly 131 rushing yards a game)
Current Las Vegas Lines: Panthers (- 3) and 35 ½ points


TENNESSEE at SEATTLE -10 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Is there really/truly a "quarterback competition" with these Tennessee Titans or does veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck have the job all to himself unless or until he gets injured?

Hasselbeck was officially named the starter for this preseason lid-lifter by second-year Titans head coach Mike Munchak -the coach said Hasselbeck "deserved" to be named starter -- but keep an eye out as to whether or not backup Jake Locker gets in more than 12-to-15 plays here as this is a homecoming of sorts for the former University of Washington star slinger.

Now as long as the Titans can get to ball to troubled WR Kenny Britt -and keep him off social media for a few hours -you might see more vertical passing game success by a Tennessee team that finished a decent 12th in the league in passing offense (245.2 yards per game) a year ago.

A Seahawks note: Head coach Pete Carroll is expected to play all three of his "potential starters" at quarterback here as Matt Flynn, Tarvaris Jackson and rookie Russell Wilson (Wisconsin/N.C. State) should share in the snaps although maybe not equally.
Current Las Vegas Lines: Seahawks (- 3) and 35 ½ points

NOTE: More NFL Preseason Week 1 Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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