Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, July 25, 2016 at 12:45 PM
NFL TRAINING CAMPS OPEN AND WE'VE GOT LOTS TO CHIRP ABOUT WHEN IT COMES TO THE AFC
THE BASEBALL REPORT: NOT SO FAST, INDIANS, AS AL CENTRAL NOW FAR FROM A DONE DEAL
The National Football League is open for business ...
From places such as Flowery Branch and Florham Park to Mankato and Oxnard, the NFL Training camps swing into action all week long and we're gonna get your football summer started with quick-hitter one-line bold comments about all 16 AFC teams here (we'll cover the NFC squads in our next Jim Sez column) plus the latest NFL News & Notes but now hear this:
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are banging outs lots of winners in Major-League Baseball these days and all you need to do is check in either 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 and Sunday. Plus, the Football Season isn't far off as NFL Preseason action swings into gear on Sunday, August 7th with the NFL Hall of Fame Game between the Indianapolis Colts versus the Green Bay Packers.
AFC TRAINING CAMPS
Lots to examine in training camps 'round the land and here's some rapid-fire bold comments regarding the AFC teams and some really important topics this summer ... here goes:
NEW ENGLAND - Suddenly, the backup to temporary starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo is the biggest need for the Patriots who really don't wish to go into the regular season with kid Jacoby Brissett (N.C. State) getting any meaningful snaps.
NEW YORK JETS - We'll save the QB Ryan Fitzpatrick stuff till later, but did you know there's a shot both CB Darrelle Revis and DT Mohammed Wilkerson might not play at all till Opening Day (see Sept. 11th versus Cincinnati)?
BUFFALO - Much of this summer should revolve around the Bills finding a competent #2 receiver, right? No way can WR Sammy Watkins handle this whole load.
MIAMI - New head coach Adam Gase better not choke QB Ryan Tannehill with all those playbook pages/charts. If Gase keeps things simple, the long-time bust could thrive.
CINCINNATI - The Bengals will spend much of this summer uncovering wide-out targets opposite A.J. Green but the big question is can TE Tyler Eifert (52 receptions, 13 TDs last year) stay in one piece?
PITTSBURGH - If RB Le'Veon Bell can't clean up his act, the Steelers may be shopping for a running back this August. Did someone wonder if Philadelphia's going to deal oft-injured RB Ryan Mathews cross-state?
BALTIMORE - The Ravens are banking on both steely vets Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs making injury comebacks ... really?
CLEVELAND - First-year head coach Hue Jackson will breathe some life into this Browns' team but let's see if he pushes 'em too hard, too fast. We say Cleveland wins five games tops ... no matter who is the QB.
HOUSTON - The J.J. Watt back surgery last week will sideline the Pro Bowler at least eight weeks, so we're gonna see what the Texans have on this D-line in his absence and it may not be as good as advertised.
INDIANAPOLIS - Word is veteran RB Frank Gore will have considerably fewer carries this year (see 260 carries in 2015) so we're watching his backups all summer long and need to be impressed.
JACKSONVILLE - One part of training camp that's gonna get a lot of attention is QB Blake Bortles' decision-making which wasn't always great last year.
TENNESSEE - Why is this team's O-line always in a state of flux? Summer time drills could do more for this blocking wall than any unit in the AFC South.
DENVER - No doubt these defending champion Broncos must uncover a reliable tight end unless you consider Nevada product Virgil Green to be the answer ... and we don't.
KANSAS CITY - It'll be fascinating to see how the Chiefs dole out the reps for backup RB Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware who were dandies last year when they rescued KC after the Jamaal Charles injury.
OAKLAND - Everyone "loves" the Raiders right now but training camp could uncover loads of warts, like a retooled secondary that's absolutely crying for help.
SAN DIEGO - Could be final year for the Chargers in SoCal and wonder how "distractions" will set in right from start of training camp.
In other NFL Training Camp News & Notes ...
Okay, so word filtered out last week that above-mentioned "former" New York Jets' QB Ryan Fitzpatrick put his New Jersey home up for rent and immediately the naysayers claimed he was "history" but, again, where exactly is Fitzpatrick going these days?
Our solution to this mess is "split the baby" and give 'em what he wants in in 2016 contract (a cool $18 million or so) and what "they" want in 2017 ($12 million with an option to cut the quarterback) ...
Folks are naturally studying up when it comes to their NFL "fantasy league" teams this year and three players on our AFC radar right now are Pittsburgh TE Ladarius Green, Tennessee WR Harry Douglas and Kansas City QB Alex Smith - the latter was the fourth-rated quarterback in the conference a year ago and betcha didn't realize that, eh?
Just in case the Cleveland Indians were thinking about printing playoff or World Series tickets, here's a word of advice ... stop the presses.
Sure, Terry Francona's club looked to a lead-pipe cinch to win the AL Central and possibly run away with the whole dang thing but the Tribe just spent this past summer weekend getting broomed in Baltimore - that was 5-1, 5-2 and 5-3 in straight sets - and suddenly the new week starts with Cleveland up on the Detroit Tigers by a mere six games. On top of everything else, the Indians' lineup did not exactly pump up the volume at usual hitter-friendly Camden Yards and we're getting the feel that the Indians are gonna make a major move for a bat in the next 24-to-48 hours ... some of the names being tossed about include Atlanta 1B Freddie Freeman, Milwaukee C Jonathan Lucroy and Colorado OF Carlos Gonzalez ...
Finally, this week begins with a couple of really top-notch/meaningful matchups including the St. Louis Cardinals at the New York Mets and the key AL series between the aforementioned Tigers at the Boston Red Sox: Watch Mets' closer Jeurys Familia (35 saves) deal with some pepped-up Cardinals bats and keep an eye on how the Sox pitch to Nick Castellanos (18 home runs) who could dent the Green Monster a few times here.
NOTE: Get all our NFL Camp Updates and lots more in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez.