Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, August 10, 2016 at 12:34 PM
THERE'S MORE NFL PRESEASON WEEK 1 PREVIEWS PLUS COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS/NOTES TOO!
Hope you caught yesterday's Jim Sez column that commented/previewed on three of Thursday's NFL Preseason Week 1 games - that's Washington-Atlanta, Tampa Bay-Philadelphia and Jacksonville-New York Jets - and be sure we'll keep you up to date on all the league's Preseason News/Notes right throughout this summer but a quickie question before we get y'all three more Thursday Night Preseason Week 1 games ...
Are you - and more importantly, the NFL - getting that much closer to embracing a two-game Preseason and an 18-game regular season?
Gotta say that following the Hall of Fame Game sham the other night when Indianapolis vs. Green Bay never came off because of "poor field conditions" we're in that camp that believes the four- or even five-game Preseason schedule for teams is headed the way of the dinosaur and odds are by 2020 we'll have an 18-game regular season and an expanded roster for all 32 NFL teams.
We'll "get into it" a bit further in a future Jim Sez column but we're already hearing rumblings that we'll have NFL 18 regular-season games over a 20-week time period sooner rather than later (and with a 60-man roster per team) and so that would likely mean NFL regular-season games on Labor Day Weekend or maybe even earlier.
You heard it here first!
Folks, Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers want to welcome you to the start of the 2016 Football Season. It all begins with four weeks of money-making NFL Preseason Games that get revved up starting Thursday Night (six games on that evening's docket in all) plus the College Football campaign swings into high gear on Friday, August 28th when California battles Hawaii in Sydney, Australia and then on September 1st we begin a full weekend card that includes such games as South Carolina at Vanderbilt (Sept. 1), Kansas State at Stanford (Sept. 2nd), Clemson vs. Auburn, LSU vs. Wisconsin and USC-Alabama on Sept. 3rd plus it's Notre Dame at Texas (Sept. 4th) and finally it's Ole Miss vs. Florida State on Labor Day evening (Sept. 5th).
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 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?
NFL PRESEASON WEEK #1 PREVIEWS
On Thursday Night, it's ...
CAROLINA at BALTIMORE - 7:30 p.m. ET
Word is Ravens' head coach John Harbaugh won't be playing QB Joe Flacco in the team's preseason opener here as the veteran and one-time Super Bowl-winning slinger gets more time to rehab the ACL and NCL knee tears suffered last December - so that means Ryan Mallett figures to see extended playing time but note his TE targets are going down like flies with second-year pro Maxx Williams the latest to join the injured that already includes Crockett Gilmore and Dennis Pitta along with suspended TEs Darren Waller and Nick Boyle. Meanwhile, the defending NFC champion Panthers say WR Kelvin Benjamin will play here after missing last season with a torn ACL.
Current Line: Ravens (- 1.5) and 36.5 points
NEW ORLEANS at NEW ENGLAND - 7:30 p.m. ET
The Jimmy Garoppolo Era has begun ... well, you get the picture! Garoppolo steps into the breech left by QB Tom Brady's four-game regular-season suspension that begins the evening of Sept. 11th in Arizona and odds are we'll get plenty of Garoppolo and third-stringer Jacoby Brissett - the rookie from N.C. State - here although technically Brady can play in the preseason. P.S., the Patriots are downplaying their many questions along the offensive line with one concern being C Bryan Stork who is just returning following his latest concussion. The Saints, on the other hand, signed a handful of veteran free agents on "D" and all preseason we'll be keeping close tabs on DT Nick Fairley and MLB James Laurinaitis, among others, on a defense that last year ranked dead last in points allowed (29.8 ppg). Note that N'Orleans went 0-4 ATS (against the spread) in last year's Preseason that included a 26-24 home loss to 3-point underdog New England.
Current Line: Patriots (- 3.5) and 39 points
DENVER at CHICAGO - 8 p.m. ET
Let's just say this is gonna be a fun summer of tracking down quarterback competitions with teams such as the Broncos, 49ers and Rams ... in this particular instance, Denver goes into Preseason play declaring veteran Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemian in a dead heat for the starter's job with first-round draftee Paxton Lynch making quick strides. If Sanchez can't get this offense revved up against a Bears' defense that allowed nearly 25 points per game last year, than the former seventh-round pick Siemian could make inroads as #1 on the depth chart. Note that the host Bears - fresh off having QB Jay Cutler call 'em a "dumb team" because of all the training camp fights - have their own woes including the job of replacing now-injured C Hroniss Grasu who tore up his knee last week.
Current Line: Pick 'Em and 35 points
Note that we'll get you quick-hitter previews/comments on Friday's Five (5) NFL Preseason Week 1 games in tomorrow's Jim Sez.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS/NOTES
Might have seen the opening Coaches Poll Top 25 was released last week and no surprise that Alabama and Clemson came in #1 and #2, respectively, but you might want to track the likes of the Oregon Ducks whose #22 ranking is their lowest starting position to open a season since 2005 and #9 Notre Dame who is making its highest debut since 2006 ...
We always like to see what teams ended the prior season on a neat pointspread run - more times than not it's a portend of what's to come - and so watch out for the likes of Akron (5 consecutive pointspread covers to end 2015), Arizona State (4 in a row at year's end), Ohio (four covers to end '15) and Virginia (six straight covers at year's end but not enough to keep Mike London on the job) ...
Finally, is it really ever "too early" to name your final four when it comes to this year's Fiesta and Peach Bowls?
Pin us down right here 10 days into August and we say it's Alabama vs. Stanford, TCU vs. Ohio State. A dark horse to bust into the national semifinals? How about Boise State!
NOTE: More NFL Preseason News & Notes plus there's loads of NCAA Football goodies too in the upcoming editions of Jim Sez, so don't miss out!