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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, July 16, 2012 at 9:50 AM

So much for this past week's All-Star Game break busting up momentum from the Major-League Baseball's first half!

No doubt that was not the case with a slew of All-Star Game hurlers who went a combined 6-and-oh in their Sunday starts and - in case you are keeping track of such things - the National League and American League starting pitchers who earned an All-Star Game berth wound up a composite 9-1 overall since the four-day break with all six starting pitchers who made their first appearance in this season's second half each winning Sunday:

To note, here was Sunday's rundown of All-Star Game hurlers who started:

  • Washington's Stephen Strasburg beat Miami 4-0;

  • Philadelphia's Cole Hamels topped host Colorado 5-1;

  • Los Angeles Angels RHP Jered Weaver beat the New York Yankees 10-8;

  • Detroit's Justin Verlander - the All-Star Game loser -- blanked the Baltimore Orioles 4-0;

  • Chicago White Sox LHP Chris Sale defeated Kansas City 2-1;

  • And last but certainly not least San Francisco Giants righty Matt Cain - the All-Star Game's winning pitcher with two shutout innings last week against the punchless AL - beat the Houston Astros 3-2.

So how's that for a bunch of slingers who followed up their first-half performances with "W's" in their first game out in the unofficial second half of play?

Heck, the only All-Star Game pitcher who lost this past weekend was Washington Nationals LHP Gio Gonzalez who fell 2-1 this past Saturday at Miami and so if you simply played the All-Star pitchers this past weekend than you're already likely tanning yourself in a foreign country today ... right? A 90 per cent winning rate can have you feelin' good in no time!

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will continue to crush the folks in Las Vegas with all the MLB Winners - so sign up today and get it all with Sides & Totals Winners. Just be sure to check in with us either right here online or else at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the daily and nightly MLB winners. The NFL Preseason is right around the corner with action on Sunday, August 5th, so sign up today for the full season, and get all the NFL Preseason Winners FREE!


Okay, so we took a one-week vacation break from our NFL Team-by-Team Capsules but we're back to finish up this week.

On today's tasty NFL menu it's a look at the Baltimore Ravens, the Washington Redskins and the Minnesota Vikings ... don't forget the NFL Preseason kicks off with the annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton on Sunday, August 5th as the Arizona Cardinals take on the New Orleans Saints:

BALTIMORE - In case you had forgotten, only four NFL teams sported more regular-season wins in 2011 than the 12-and-4 Ravens (see Green Bay with 15 wins and New England, New Orleans and San Francisco each with 13 victories) yet this AFC North crew has been fielding lots of off-season questions regarding this coming campaign.

Last year's Ravens ranked just 19th in the NFL in passing offense (213.9 yards a game) and so the high-alert is on for QB Joe Flacco and Company and there's hope that former Houston WR Jacoby Jones will give this attack a shot in the arm but do keep in mind that speedy WR Torrey Smith averaged a nifty 16.8 ypc on his 50 receptions last year and it will be interesting to see if Flacco throws him the ball a lot this Preseason while continuing to work on their downfield rapport.

Expect firmed-up TE Dennis Pitta (40 receptions last year) to be a key third-down target as enemy defenses continue to concentrate heavily on RB Ray Rice (team-leading 76 catches last season).

WASHINGTON - How is this for a pointspread factoid:

The Redskins last year - en route to a 5-11 SU (straight-up) campaign - won/covered both games played against the Super Bowl champion New York Giants and went a combined 5-9 versus the vig against the rest of the league.

No doubt the 'Skins - a dreadfully bad 25th in the league in rushing (100.9 ypg) - don't wish to see rookie QB Robert Griffin III turning up-field with the ball tucked under his arm all that much this year but who among a slew of potential #1-string running backs is gonna wrest away most of the carries ... will that be Tim Hightower who tore an ACL in a Week 7 loss at Carolina?

Hightower wound up with only 84 rushes last year (while averaging just 3.8 yards a carry) and is expected to get the longest look here from head coach Mike Shanahan and staff but stay tuned 'cause Hightower may miss the beginning of training camp.

MINNESOTA - Hard to believe that last year's Vikings only won once at home (a 34-10 rout against Arizona in Week 5 play) after going a spiffy 9-and-oh in their own backyard in 2009 and a quick look at this year's sked shows this NFC North squad will get to play five games in Minny against 2010 non-playoff teams (see Jacksonville, Tennessee, Arizona, Tampa Bay and Chicago) and so maybe that will bolster Vike hopes this time around.

Something else that could bolster hopes is second-year QB Christian Ponder should be lots more comfortable with the playbook and with offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. Note that Ponder served as the club's backup to Donovan McNabb (remember him?) through the first six games last year but now it's "his team" and so improving that 28th-ranked pass offense (184.8 ypg) is a must and so no wonder why so much scrutiny is being put on first-round draftee OT Matt Kalil (fourth overall pick in the draft) who figures to be protecting Ponder for the next 10-or-so seasons.

Here's some NFL poinstpread facts/figures regarding teams and their fast/slow starts:

  • The Carolina Panthers started 2011 with a splashy 4-0-1 ATS (against the spread) record;

  • The Cincinnati Bengals covered seven of their first eight games a year ago including road pointspread triumphs at Cleveland, Denver, Jacksonville, Seattle and Tennessee;

  • The Denver Broncos failed to cover four of their first five outings last year;

  • The Detroit Lions were 4-0-1 spreadwise in their first five games out of the chute last season;

  • The Green bay Packers sported a 5-1 ATS log in their first six games a year ago;

  • The Jacksonville Jaguars failed to cover four of their first five games last season;

  • The Miami Dolphins were 0-and-6 spreadwise to begin the 2011 campaign;

  • The New England Patriots notched spread wins in four of their first five games;

  • The New York Jets dropped four of their first five spread verdicts a year ago;

  • The Oakland Raiders covered each of their first three games - and four of their first five - last season;

  • The Philadelphia Eagles failed to cover four of their first five games last year;

  • The St. Louis Rams - surprise, surprise - lost their first six straight spread decisions;

  • And last but not least, the San Francisco 49ers actually were 9-0-1 ATS in their first 10 games including an eight-game ATS winning streak that started in Week 3;

NOTE: Get more NFL Team-by-Team Capsules in the next Jim Sez as we bring you the Cincinnati Bengals, the Cleveland Browns and the Dallas Cowboys.

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