Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 12:00 AM
THE NFL PRESEASON WEEK 3 UPDATE:
THE "DRESS REHEARSAL" GAMES ARE HERE AND WE'RE CHECKING OUT STEELERS-EAGLES, RAIDERS-PACKERS & MORE
THE COLLEGE GRIDIRON REPORT: WE WEIGH IN ON THE AAC & C-USA
No doubt there is a certain segment of NFL fans that will be quick to voice their opinions and tell you these ongoing Preseason games don't mean a thing.
But ask NFL head coaches/players and many will tell you these NFL Preseason Week 3 games—yes, the so-called "dress rehearsal" games where starters often go into the second half (and sometimes very deep into the second half) are ultra-valuable in shaping the rosters and determining the depth charts for the 32 NFL teams.
So, without further ado we'll get you some NFL Preseason Week 3 Thursday/Friday action with a quickie reminder that in our next Jim Sez column we'll dig into the Eight (8) games scheduled for Saturday and the Two (2) games on the docket for this Sunday.
We'll also continue here our College Football Conference columns – it's the American Athletic Conference and Conference USA here with the Mountain West Conference and the Sun Belt on deck – so there's a whole lot of Football comin' your way right here at Jim Sez.
The 2014 NFL Preseason rock-n-rolls on this week with Week 3 action beginning on Thursday Night when the Pittsburgh Steelers battle the host Philadelphia Eagles and then there's Five (5) games on the Friday Night card including the CBS bash between Oakland at Green Bay and Chicago at defending Super Bowl champion Seattle, plus the Eight (8) games on Saturday featuring the CBS showdown between New Orleans at Indianapolis and Washington at Baltimore -- then the Preseason Week 3 games are capped with this Sunday's pair of tilts as it's San Diego at San Francisco on Fox and Cincinnati at Arizona on NBC at 4 and 8 p.m. ET, respectively.
The College Football campaign swings into high gear next week with a full week/weekend card scheduled for Thursday, August 28th right through Labor Day – that's Monday, September 1st.
You definitely want to be in the winner's circle for all the big opening-week tilts with the college games as Texas A&M battles South Carolina on Thursday, Aug. 28, it's BYU at UConn among other key tilts on Friday, Aug. 29th and a jam-packed Labor Day weekend card features Clemson-Georgia on Saturday, Aug. 30th and Miami at Louisville on Monday, Sept. 1.
Also, take note that America's #1 Handicapper continues to bang out lots of winners in Major-League Baseball these days and all you need to do is check in either right here online for ALL of Jim's Selections, or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 any time after 1 p.m. Eastern time for the weeknight action, after 11 a.m. ET for weekday games and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday/Sunday/Holiday Winners and get all the Football & Baseball winners … can't beat that, right?
The NFL Preseason, the start of the College Football campaign and then Baseball action too – it's always a major money-making time of the year for the Jim Hurley Network so why not join in on all the fun-and-profits right now! Get in now on all the action, folks!
THE NFL PRESEASON WEEK 3 PREVIEWS
On Thursday, it's...PITTSBURGH (1-1) at PHILADELPHIA (0-2) – 7:30 p.m. ET
Lost amidst all of the hoopla that surrounded last year's NFC East title for the Philly Eagles was the hard-core fact that Chip Kelly's team finished 29th in the NFL in total defense and dead-last in the league in passing defense – and so far in this year's Preseason the Birds have allowed 34 and 42 points in setbacks against Chicago and New England.
True, Eagles' turnovers (three of 'em, in fact) led directly to Patriots points in last week's scoring fest but the bottom line is New England cranked out an unheard-of 35 first downs in last Friday's game and so let's see what Steelers' signal-caller Ben Roethlisberger can do here after leading Pittsburgh to touchdowns on its first two drives of last Saturday's 19-16 win/cover against 2 ½-point pup Buffalo.
Roethlisberger aired out a 76-yard scoring strike to WR Antonio Brown who – dare we say – could be a major stat-sheet stuffer for fantasy league owners this year and let's see how the Eagles handle him in the vertical passing game. Have to say we've got this feeling it's gonna be a big year for "Big Ben".
On Friday, it's …NEW YORK GIANTS (3-0) at NEW YORK JETS (2-0) – 7:30 p.m. ET
Want to hear something funny? These two Big Apple teams are a combined 5-and-oh SU (straight-up) and 4-1 ATS (against the spread) thus far in these summertime exhibition games and yet a real case of doom-and-gloom hangs over both franchises.
The Giants – who've beaten Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis in Preseason play this month – simply can't get out of their own way on offense where QB Eli Manning has completed a grand total of one pass in his last two outings and first-year offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo keeps giving out the feeling all is "fine" when it's not.
In this tilt against the Jets (a gang green home game, in case you were wondering) the Giants need Manning and that no-huddle offense to get something going with his wide outs – maybe you noted where slot receiver Victor Cruz didn't have a single reception and was targeted only twice in last weekend's wild 27-26 come-from-way-behind win against the Colts.
On the flip side, the Jets are continuing to monitor (and overrate) the play of starting QB Geno Smith who completed 10-of-13 passes for 98 yards with one pick in last weekend's 25-17 triumph at 3-point fav Cincinnati but the real problem spot for Rex Ryan's club is a leaky and injury-wracked secondary that needs rookie S Calvin Pryor (Louisville) to stay in one piece after suffering concussion woes through much of this camp.
OAKLAND (1-1) at GREEN BAY (1-1) – 8 p.m. ET, CBS
The good news for the Raiders is that QB Matt Schaub looked sharper last week in that 27-26 win against 3-point dog Detroit than he did in his silver-and-black debut a couple of weeks ago.
Schaub completed 8-of-13 passes for 87 yards with one INT against the Lions but still posted a lowly 49.2 quarterback rating in that tilt and so maybe this is gonna take some time with a veteran-but-maligned QB taking over the reins for an Oakland team that has loads of new faces on its side.
Expect the Packers' oft-criticized defense (allowed 26.8 ppg last year to rank 24th in the league) to send pressure Schaub's way here but one item to watch will be how does Green Bay's defense handle the "underneath stuff" as last week Rams QB Sam Bradford dink-and-dunked the Pack on an 8-play, 76-yard touchdown drive where the GB linebacker play was shoddy … just sayin'!
THE COLLEGE GRIDIRON REPORT
Okay, so we're winding our way down to the final few conferences/leagues and all next week our Jim Sez columns will feature all the big opening-week games beginning with a Thursday, Aug. 28th menu that includes six on-the-board games.
For now, let's get you some words of wisdom regarding the …
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
The UCF Knights are fresh off a BCS bowl win against Baylor in last season's Fiesta Bowl bash and even without QB Blake Bortles – the third overall pick in this past May's NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars – there's plenty of reasons for George O'Leary's club to have their heads up this year.
The best part about the UCF team is a defense that brings back nine starters from a unit that ranked 17th nationally in points allowed but if this Orlando-based bunch is gonna win double-digit games for a third consecutive season than pass-catchers Rannell Hall, J.J. Worton and Breshad Perriman (a combined 143 receptions a year ago) must shine and be flip-the-field stars.
If you're looking for someone to sneak up and KO the Knights for league honors this year, then consider the Houston Cougars who have the best passer in the AAC in soph John O'Korn (3,117 yards passing with 28 TDs).
The Coogs have a high-class pass-grabber of their own in WR Deontay Greenberry (82 receptions worth 1,202 yards and 11 TDs last year) and this dynamic duo of O'Korn and Greenberry could be national headline-snaggers should UH get off to a 7-0 or 8-0 type start.
Okay, so we'll admit it's been tough keeping track of C-USA in recent years – right now the league sports 13 members and in-the-know folks believe you'll get five bowl teams from this conference and maybe even a top 25 team or two – we're talking to you, Marshall and Western Kentucky!
Note that the Marshall Thundering Herd are being mentioned as a team that could well "run the table" behind thrill-a-minute QB Rakeem Cato (his 39 TD passes last year ranked third-best in FBS play) but should we all be so quick to mark down "W's" for those road games at Akron and/or UAB?
Meanwhile, the WKU Hilltoppers have their third head coach in three years – it's Jeff Brohm stepping up from the offensive staff – but if Western Kentucky is gonna win C-USA than a defense that lost seven starters from last year's squad must show some grit.
If you're searching for a sleeper squad in C-USA, then consider Louisiana Tech behind second-year boss Skip Holtz – the Bulldogs scored just 38 points in their final three games a year ago en route to a 4-8 season but Holtz can be a miracle-worker of sorts.
NOTE: More NFL Preseason Week 3 Previews plus College Football goodies too in the next edition of Jim Sez.