Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, August 10, 2015 at 12:00 AM
THE NFL PRESEASON IS OFF AND ROLLIN’ –
VIKINGS DOWN STEELERS 14-3 BUT WE’RE ALREADY
LOOKING AHEAD TO THE PRESEASON WEEK 1 MENU
AS PACKERS-PATRIOTS, BRONCOS-SEAHAWKS AND
COLTS-EAGLES HEADLINE THIS WEEK’S GAMES
Let the record state that the Minnesota Vikings – a true Super Bowl dark horse darling of many in-the-know prognosticators this summer – registered the NFL’s first preseason win of the year with Sunday night’s far-from-electrifying 14-3 Hall of Fame Game win/cover versus the 3-point underdog Pittsburgh Steelers with the “under” players winning easy with the totals price tag at 36.5 – so much for the “smart money” move, eh?
Folks, in case you were not aware, the totals price had inched up in recent days from 34 or 34.5 all the way to the above-mentioned closing line but, in a game dominated by non-starters (for the most part), the defense ruled the night and that included a key fourth-and-one stop by the Steelers’ defense at the end of a long Minnesota drive keyed by QB Teddy Bridgewater (see 5-of-6 passing for 44 yards on one series of action) and a key fourth-and-goal play where Pittsburgh’s backup TE Jesse James simply dropped a sure-fire touchdown catch.
Obviously, the game was missing two of the NFL’s biggest stars as Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger (4,952 yards passing with 32 TDs and 9 INTs last year) sat it out while Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson remained a preseason spectator (he hasn’t played a single preseason down since 2011) even though he missed all but one game a year ago following a league suspension for alleged child abuse.
If you were hoping to see Pittsburgh slide in a capable backup to “Big Ben”, well, forget it as youngster Landry Jones was spotty at best while completing 15-of-32 pass attempts for 128 yards and one interception and all his clock issues (delay of game, etc.) still had to bother head coach Mike Tomlin who also witnessed his defense miss a slew of open-field tackles.
Worst news of the night, however, for the Steelers is that dependable PK Shaun Suisham suffered what’s being described as a “potentially significant” injury as he made an awkward sideline tackle on a Minny kick return.
The Vikings liked the fact TE Kyle Rudolph snagged a pair of 11-yard passes from Bridgewater and that rookie CB Trae Waynes (three tackles) held his own even though he didn’t have to defend WR Antonio Brown who also sat out the game.
So now it’s onward and upward for the next four weeks of full NFL Preseason schedules – the Vikings will host Tampa Bay this Saturday night while next up for the Steelers is a Friday night game in Jacksonville.
Better believe that Pittsburgh will let Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Brown all play some in the upcoming tilt against the Jaguars – but will the Steelers be auditioning a new kicker too?
Let’s get a quickie sneak peek at what else is straight ahead on this NFL Preseason Week 1 menu:
On Thursday, it’s …
GREEN BAY at NEW ENGLAND (7:30 p.m. ET) – We can only wonder if the whole Tom Brady/DeflateGate mess will be resolved by mid-week – enough already, Commish Goodell! Hey, we don’t expect QB Brady to play in this week’s exhibition game but wouldn’t it be nice to know who New England’s starting signal-caller is gonna be when we get to the real opener on Sept. 10th?
In any event, all eyes will be on Pats’ slinger Jimmy Garoppolo here (see 19-of-27 passing with 1 TD/0 INT a year ago) who must show at some point this summer that he has the arm to zing some balls deep and the stomach to take some hits.
DALLAS at SAN DIEGO (10 p.m. ET) – The Cowboys believe they’ve achieved “elite status” following last year’s 13-win season that included a come-from-behind 24-20 non-cover win against Detroit in an NFC Wild Card Round Game and an impossible-to-comprehend 26-21 loss-but-cover at Green Bay in an NFC Divisional Round Game but keep in mind the league’s second-best rushing attack (147.1 yards per game) is minus star RB DeMarco Murray who plays for the Philadelphia Eagles these days and so the likes of RB Darren McFadden (strained hamstring) and RB Lance Dunbar (ankle) would like to turn some heads here.
Obviously, the Chargers are banking on rookie RB Melvin Gordon (4,915 yards rushing in his career at Wisconsin) to upgrade the league’s 30th-best ground game but odds are he carries only a handful of times here.
Important Note …
Folks, Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers want to welcome you to the start of the 2015 Football Season.
It all began with Sunday’s annual Hall of Fame Game between the Vikings versus the Steelers but remember now there’s another four weeks of money-making NFL Preseason Games that get revved up beginning Thursday Night (six games on that evening’s docket) plus the College Football campaign swings into high gear on Thursday, September 3rd with a full weekend card to follow and including such games as Louisville at Auburn, BYU at Nebraska, Arizona State vs. Texas A&M (in Houston), Wisconsin versus Alabama (in Arlington, TX) and Texas at Notre Dame.
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 at www.jimhurley.com 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 year and Baseball action too -- always a major money-making time of the year for the Jim Hurley Network!
On Friday, it’s …
DENVER at SEATTLE (10 p.m. ET) – These Super Bowl 48 combatants play one another in the preseason every single year and keep in mind the Broncos copped a 21-16 home win in a pick ‘em tilt last summer (right, hardly revenge for that ugly 43-8 SB loss the previous winter!).
Gotta believe the Seahawks are champing at the bit to get TE Jimmy Graham into the flow this summer – but odds are he’ll play little if at all here – but keep an eye on Seattle WR Tyler Lockett who is a third-round pick with first-round ability.
The Broncos, meanwhile, remain in a getting-to-know you mode with new head coach Gary Kubiak who won’t be shy about letting QB Peyton Manning take some shots here in a no-huddle attack that might allow the future Hall of Famer as many as 10-to-12 snaps in the first quarter.
On Saturday, it’s …
SAN FRANCISCO at HOUSTON (8 p.m. ET) – It’s already been a killer camp for the 49ers who last week released uber-talented OLB Aldon Smith following his arrest for hit-and-run, DUI and vandalism … yes, that comes straight from the believe-it-or-not department after an off-season that saw a batch of San Fran players depart the scene with “early retirements” the buzz words here.
Folks, the Texans are your HBO Hard Knocks subjects this year but one player that was gonna draw the camera’s attention – RB Arian Foster – is gone for a minimum of five weeks after surgery to repair a groin injury and so check out RBs Jonathan Grimes and Alfred Blue here.
On Sunday, it’s …
INDIANAPOLIS at PHILADELPHIA (1 p.m. ET) – Is there an NFL head coach under more scrutiny this year than Eagles’ third-year boss-man Chip Kelly? His whirlwind personnel moves this past off-season had plenty of NFL folks scratching their heads and – wouldn’t you know it – two of the prime acquisitions were missing in a practice late last week as LB Kiko Alonso (concussion) and the aforementioned RB Murray (illness/dehydration-related) were both on the sidelines but hoping to be OK for this exhibition home tilt.
On the flip side, Indianapolis – which lost all four of its 2014 preseason games SU (straight-up) while failing to cover three-of-four affairs – swears it will be spending most of this summer fine-tuning and tweaking what’s a pretty set lineup and don’t look for much P.T. (as in playing time) here from either QB Andrew Luck or new RB Frank Gore.
A reminder: Last year NFL Preseason Betting Favorites finished 27-3-24 ATS (against the spread) with two pick ‘em games tossed into the mix while “over” players produced a shoddy 24-40-1 ATS mark.
NOTE: More NFL Camp News & Notes plus NCAA Football goodies too in the next edition of Jim Sez!