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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, August 20, 2015 at 3:25 PM



By Jim Hurley:

In case you had not noticed, it's getting real close to nitty-gritty time in the National Football League.

If you happened to eyeball the second edition of HBO's Hard Knocks - the cable station is chronicling the summertime exploits of the Houston Texans - then you saw second-year head coach Bill O'Brien in a take-no-prisoners mode at halftime of his team's 23-10 win against San Francisco last Saturday night ... penalties, poor clock management and the inability to score a touchdown on seven different cracks from inside the 49ers' two-yard line all had O'Brien boiling at the halftime break and that pretty much sums up the attitudes/feelings of NFL coaches all 'round the land as their teams get closer and closer to this year's season-opening games. Everyone's starting to feel the heat!

And speaking of the Week 1 affairs that now just three weeks away - it all kicks off with the Pittsburgh Steelers at the defending champion New England Patriots (with or without QB Tom Brady) on Thursday, Sept. 10th - and here's some pointspread tidbits regarding NFL teams and how they fare spreadwise in their Week 1 games going back the past few/several years:

The Arizona Cardinals have covered six of their last eight season-opening games;
The Buffalo Bills have notched spread wins in eight of their last 10 openers;
The Carolina Panthers have failed to cover their Week 1 games in five of the past six seasons;
The Cleveland Browns are 2-7-1 ATS (against the spread) in regular-season openers the past 10 years;
The Dallas Cowboys are 7-3 spreadwise in their last 10 season-opening games;
The Indianapolis Colts have failed to cover six of their last seven season lid-lifters;
The New York Giants have lost their season-opening spread result for the past four years;
The Pittsburgh Steelers also have dropped their last four consecutive spread results in openers;
The St. Louis Rams are an ugly 1-7 ATS in their last eight openers;
The San Francisco 49ers are 5-1 ATS in their last six season-opening affairs;
And the Tampa Bay Bucs are 1-7-1 against the odds in their last nine openers.
So, go ahead and clip-and-save that for your NFL Week 1 notebook!

Now, here's what is on the Friday night menu ...

ATLANTA (1-0) at NEW YORK JETS (0-1) - 7:30 p.m. ET
Don't worry, folks, the New York City-area tabloid folks have not let up on the Geno Smith story just yet although first-year J-E-T-S head coach Todd Bowles is doing everything possible to keep the jaw-broken quarterback out of the team's daily headlines. One thing you might want to watch here in terms of NYJ headlines is what Bowles' defense looks like here one week after surrendering 428 yards and 26 first downs in a non-competitive 23-3 loss at Detroit - the tackling was putrid for gang green in that preseason opener and new/old CB Antonio Cromartie was roasted a few times in the Lions' passing game plus he showed no interest in trying to tackle anyone. Ugh!

On the flip side, Atlanta loved how veteran QB Matt Ryan picked up from where he left off a year ago by completing all six of his passes - including a 13-yard scoring strike to ace wide receiver Julio Jones - in last Friday's 31-24 win/cover versus 2.5-point pup Tennessee, so let's see if Ryan can surgically slice up the Jets' mucho-hyped secondary here. Gotta believe that Falcons' first-year head coach Dan Quinn may play Ryan for most/all the first half here while trying to keep this offense in a neat rhythm.

SEATTLE (1-0) at KANSAS CITY (1-0) - 8 p.m. ET
Let's be quite frank here: The Seahawks probably care less about their preseason won/loss results than any NFL team after having gone to back-to-back Super Bowls the past two seasons. Still, this remains an important time of the year considering newly-inked QB Russell Wilson must gain a rapport with TE Jimmy Graham (see 12-yard pass play a week ago) plus Pete Carroll's crew did get a bit dinged up in last weekend's 22-20 home loss versus Denver as WR Chris Matthews (four receptions worth 109 yards and one touchdown in last year's Super Bowl loss) and backup QB Tarvaris Jackson suffered left shoulder and right ankle injuries, respectively, last Friday night and both are expected to be shelved for the next several days. In other words, get ready for a major dose here of Seattle third-string QB R.J. Archer (11-of-20 passing for 110 yards and 1 TD last week).

As far as the KC Chiefs go, well, their defense yielded 10 points on two Arizona possessions last Saturday night but Andy Reid's backups roared back for a 34-19 win as QB Chase Daniel aired three TDs and threw for 189 yards - but can starter Alex Smith (just 42 yards passing with one INT off a deflection last week) show any life here against the Seattle "ones"? Stay tuned.

The 2015 NFL Preseason rock-n-rolls on this week with Week 2 action beginning tonight - that's Detroit at Washington and the ESPN tilt between Buffalo at Cleveland -- and then there's Two (2) games on the Friday Night card (see previews up above) plus Eight (8) games on Saturday featuring New England at New Orleans and then there's Three (3) more games on Sunday with St. Louis at Tennessee aired on Fox (8 p.m. ET) and then it all wraps up for the week on Monday Night as the Cincinnati Bengals are at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET.

Note that the College Football campaign swings into high gear on Thursday, September 3rd with 41 games in all scheduled for that entire Labor Day weekend (that's Thursday-thru-Monday with games each day) and it all begins with South Carolina versus North Carolina (from Charlotte) on ESPN at 6 p.m. ET on Sept. 3 plus the weekend card is really terrific with such marquee matchups as Arizona State vs. Texas A&M (from Houston), Texas at Notre Dame and Wisconsin vs. Alabama (from Arlington).

You definitely want to be in the winner's circle for all the big opening-week College Football tilts and again remember there's action for five days in a row beginning Sept. 3rd and taking you right through that Labor Day evening bash between defending national champion Ohio State at Virginia Tech.

Hey, take note that Jim Hurley -- America's #1 Handicapper -- continues to bang out lots of winners in Major-League Baseball these days and all you need to do for all the Football/Baseball winners is either sign up today for the discount full-season package or else check in right here online 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 exciting Baseball action too - it's always a major money-making time of the year for the Jim Hurley Network so why not get in on all the fun-and-profits right now!



The College Football Season kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 3rd and every day between now and then we'll bring you our Conference-by-Conference Previews in quick-hitter form. We start things off today with the Mountain West Conference:

The question everyone is asking in/around the MWC is can this year's Boise State Broncos "run the table"?

Hey, Bryan Harsin's club overcame a rather sluggish 3-2 SU (straight-up) start a year ago to finish 12-2 including that 38-30 mild upset win against Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl and the rumblings are that this Broncos' team could be part of the four-team playoff picture at year's end if everything falls just right. The defense is sound, savvy and sports lots of veterans and the O-line is loaded but either QB Ryan Finley or incoming frosh Brett Rypien must steer this ship with minimal mistakes.

Note that the Boise State schedule includes non-league road games at BYU (Sept. 12) and Virginia (Sept. 25) and the biggest in-season hurdle within the Mountain West figures to come in the Oct. 16th road game at Utah State.

Boise State was one of three MWC teams to win a bowl game last winter -- Utah State downed UTEP 21-6 in the New Mexico Bowl and Air Force topped Western Michigan 38-24 in the Potato Bowl - but gotta believe Boise State's toughest competition this year will come against San Diego State who could well be sitting there in the MWC Championship Game opposite the Broncs. Note the Aztecs sport the league's best kicker in Donny Hageman and speed-burner RB Donnel Pumphrey - all 5-foot-9, 170 pounds of him - comes off an underrated 1,867-yard, 20-TD season.

If there's a player-to-watch that deserves your attention in this year's Mountain West Conference, it's Colorado State WR Rashard Higgins who averaged a whopping 18.2 yards-per-catch and snagged 17 TDs last year as a sophomore - will he do even better for pass-friendly new head coach Mike Bobo?

If there's a coach on the hot seat in 2015 then it's Hawaii fourth-year boss Norm Chow who is 8-29 for the Warriors -- but Chow is banking on former USC slinger Max Wittek to save the coach's proverbial bacon this fall.

NOTE: More NFL Preseason Week 2 Previews plus College Football goodies too in the next edition of Jim Sez as we start to get you all the FBS conference-by-conference quick-hitter previews.

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