Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 10:31 AM
Here's a question for you all: Did you happen to read all the NFL Preseason Week 1 post-game stories?
If you did than you probably noticed something we noticed and that there are a slew of NFL head coaches who used the phrase "we've got a lot of work to do" in their respective post-game remarks.
And no wonder:
Whether it was the Green Bay Packers'secondary playing a brand of "touch football" in their 17-0 home loss against Arizona last Friday night ... or the Chicago Bears'offensive line getting pounded in their 24-17 road loss in Carolina ... or the sloppy special teams coverage by the Indianapolis Colts in their 44-20 home loss versus Buffalo last Sunday afternoon, the fact of the matter is many NFL teams gave you just what you might have expected in a Preseason opener - some pretty bad football.
So, as we flip forward the calendar to this NFL Preseason Week 2, there's some pressure on teams/players/coaches to put forth better efforts and - while any NFL fan could tell you that in the general scheme of thing these exhibition games don't count and often times don't tell a real story - you sure don't want to be a team that falls flat on your face these first two summertime games.
Okay, let's start things off by digging into a pair of Thursday night games here as we dissect some goodies when it comes to Carolina at Philadelphia and the ESPN game between San Diego at Chicago but keep in mind we'll also be monitoring what happens with the evening's games between Detroit at Cleveland and Atlanta at Baltimore:
But first this ultra-important message ...Jim Hurley and his veteran Handicappers and Bloggers will bring you a bunch of summertime winners with NFL Preseason Sides & Totals Winners now and through the next three weeks. Remember there's NFL Preseason Week 2 games all week/weekend long beginning with Thursday's quartet of games that we've listed up above plus there's Four (4) more NFL Preseason Week 2 games on Friday including the Fox TV tilt between Tampa Bay at New England, there's Six (6) more games on Saturday including a late afternoon showdown between Dallas at Arizona (a 4:30 p.m. ET kickoff) and then there are "stand-alone" single games Sunday evening (that's Indianapolis at the New York Giants on Fox) and Monday Night (that's Pittsburgh at Washington on ESPN). So make sure you hook up with Jim Hurley -- America's #1 Handicapper who comes off a sizzling 6-2 Preseason Week 1 spate of games that included pointspread wins by Detroit over the New York Jets and Carolina over Chicago.
Plus make sure you cash in with loads of Major-League Baseball Winners too as we've been raging hot ever since last month's All-Star Game.
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In NFL Preseason Week 2 action on Thursday Night, it's ...
CAROLINA (1-0) at PHILADELPHIA (0-1) - 7:30 p.m. ET
Let's face it: The Philly Eagles may well be the most scrutinized four-win team in the history of the NFL as rookie coach Chip Kelly is truly under the microscope after a brilliant four-year stay at Oregon - but might everyone (including us) be getting caught up too much in the quarterback battle between lefty Michael Vick and one-time 2012 starter Nick Foles and not paying nearly enough attention to a Birds defense that was shredded to pieces last Friday night in a 31-22 loss to New England?
Okay, as far as the QB derby goes, Kelly says both Vick and Foles will get more work in this second preseason game with both slingers getting their shots to play with the "ones" (that's first-stringers or starters for those not in the NFL loop!) but let's see if this porous defense shows any improvement:
Last week against Pats'QB Tom Brady and an already fine-tuned (albeit short-handed) N'England offense, the AFC East team drove 80 yards on six plays (all rushes) for a touchdown and then followed that up moments later with a 10-play, 80-yard TD drive.
If Kelly's defensive starters wish to turn some heads here, than getting some good/clean hits leveled on Carolina QB Cam Newton is advisable.
P.S., the Panthers - a three-point road dog at this time - snagged a 24-17 win against Chicago last Friday night but Newton completed only 3-of-6 passes for 16 yards while playing in three series and he also aired a "pick six" that didn't exactly sit well with third-year head coach Ron Rivera.
SAN DIEGO (0-1) at CHICAGO (0-1) - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
The best thing you could say about the Bears'performance in that aforementioned TD loss in Carolina was at least QB Jay Cutler got out with his life!
The Bears committed three turnovers and allowed seven sacks (no, not all of 'em were Cutler) and first-year head coach Marc Trestman muttered something afterwards about "having work to do" ... told 'ya!
Cutler may get to play a handful of offensive series - note that last week he did complete 6-of-8 aerials for 56 yards - but we'll be particularly interested to see if he's got any chemistry going with WR Alshon Jeffery who he targeted twice by Cutler last week with one completion for 13 yards and one "wrong shoulder" throw that resulted in an interception by Carolina CB Josh Norman on the Bears'first offensive play from scrimmage.
Meanwhile, the 4 ½-point underdog SD Chargers - a 31-10 home loser to Seattle last Thursday night - have been one of the many NFL teams bashed by the injury bug:
Notre Dame rookie LB Manti Te'o (foot sprain) won't suit up here plus earlier in the week the Bolts received a real scare when WR Malcom Floyd suffered a sprained knee in practice that at first appeared to be even more serious.
Rookie head coach Mike McCoy likely will go with his starters for all/most of the first half after last week QB Philip Rivers played just one series: A 13-play, 74-yard march that produced a Nick Novak 28-yard field goal.
NCAA FOOTBALL NEWS & NOTES
As you've no doubt seen in some of our recent editions of Jim Sez, the opening week/weekend for the "college kids" is right around the bend with a healthy card of 44 on-the-board games going from Thursday, August 29th through Labor Day evening of Monday, September 2nd and so let's spend a few moments on a couple of ranked teams that will be in action on this soon-to-be-here holiday weekend (note the Coaches Poll rankings are listed below):
#5 GEORGIA - Maybe the single-best game on this opening week card is the Dawgs'bash at Clemson that will be televised by the good folks at ABC.
Okay, so Georgia has won 22 games overall the past two years but fell just yards shy of getting into last season's BCS Championship when Alabama eked out a 32-28 win against Mark Richt's club in the latest SEC Championship Game.
Now, if the Bulldogs are gonna enjoy a special season they must win here in prime time - note that right now Georgia is a modest 1 ½-point road favorite in Death Valley -- and there is major heat on defensive coordinator Todd Grantham to plug in all the right parts after Georgia lost a slew of defensive players in last year's NFL Draft.
Keep an eye here on senior defensive end Garrison Smith who could be a major disruptive force against Clemson QB and Heisman Trophy hopeful Tajh Boyd.
#14 OKLAHOMA STATE - Last year's OSU Cowboys cranked out identical 8-5 SU (straight-up) and ATS (against the spread) marks while finishing off the year with a rollicking 58-14 Ticket City Bowl win on New Year's Day against overmatched Purdue.
In all, the 2012 'Boys scored 40-plus points on six different occasions and now there's major buzz that Mike Gundy's club could be a true scoring machine no matter who gets the most snaps this year though J.W. Walsh (1,564 yards passing with 13 TDs and 3 INTs last season) likely getting the No. 1 spot at quarterback both here and down the road.
Okie State opens up here for this August 31st game as a twin-digit betting favorite against SEC foe Miss State - the Pokes are a 12 ½-point fav at press time - and keep in mind this one's on a "neutral" field in Houston.
Let's see if Gundy's guys are ready after the fiery head coach spent time in the news the past few months for a) defending the spread offense now utilized throughout much of the college football universe and b) allegedly firing a home contractor who wore an "Oklahoma Baseball" t-shirt to Gundy's house. Really!
Okay, so here's a little College Football refresher as in what teams ended last year on some sort of strong pointspread run ... here's our little list:
- ARKANSAS STATE covered its final six games a year ago including a 17-13 win against 2 ½-point pup Kent State in the Go Daddy.com Bowl ...
- BAYLOR concluded the 2012 season on a sizzling six-game spread winning streak that featured pointspread covers versus Oklahoma, Kansas State and a 49-26 triumph over 3-point fav UCLA in the Holiday Bowl ...
- MIAMI notched spread wins in each of its final six games a year ago and keep in mind the Hurricanes (9-3 ATS overall) were not invited to a post-season bowl game because of NCAA sanctions ...
- NORTHWESTERN reeled off seven consecutive spread wins to round out the 2012 season and how about the fact the Big 10 Wildcats covered at Michigan (a 38-31 OT loss as 8 ½-point dogs) and at Michigan State (a 23-20 outright win as 7-point underdogs) in back-to-back weeks last November? ...
- SAN JOSE STATE was a quiet assassin spreadwise as the Spartans covered their final five games a year ago including the 29-20 Military Bowl win against 7-point dog Bowling Green ...
- VANDERBILT banged out six consecutive pointspread "W's" to conclude its special '12 campaign. The Commodores - who finished 9-4 both SU and ATS - covered at Kentucky, at Ole Miss and at Wake Forest in three of the final four regular-season weekends. Wow! ...