Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, August 13, 2016 at 11:07 AM
NFL PRESEASON WEEKEND UPDATE: WE PREVIEW SUNDAY'S TEXANS-49ERS CLASH PLUS THERE'S COLLEGE FOOTBALL & MLB TOO!
A few Jim Sez columns ago, we discussed the notion that it was "more important" for certain NFL teams to win their 2016 Preseason games - we cited the fact that there are teams that need to make some summertime statements with "W's" and we preached that there were some NFL head coaches that also needed to win these exhibition games if, for no other reason, to get a winning taste.
Well, when the NFL Preseason Week 1 menu finally wraps up here on this Sunday night with an NFL Network game between the Houston Texans at the San Francisco 49ers, you could well make the case that both of these teams will try to get greedy and win as many Preseason games as possible.
After all, the visiting Texans have not won a playoff game since 2012 while the rebuilding 49ers have their third different head coach in as many years and Chip Kelly has plenty to prove just on his own.
The preview is just ahead but first this key reminder ...
Folks, Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers want to welcome you to the start of the 2016 Football Season. It rolls on all weekend long with lots more NFL Preseason Week 1 action as there's Four (4) games on Saturday including the ESPN prime-time duel between the Dallas Cowboys at the Los Angeles Rams and then there's the one more we mentioned on Sunday night -- and keep in mind 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.
In NFL Preseason Week 1 action on Sunday, it's ...
HOUSTON at SAN FRANCISCO - 7 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Last year's messy quarterback situation in Houston - who can forget QB Brian Hoyer's three-INT, one-fumble first half in the 30-0 AFC Wild Card Game playoff loss to Kansas City? - needed a resolution and so free agent Brock Osweiler signed on the dotted line for $72 million over four years and now we'll get an early feel here for what the former Denver Broncos' can bring to the table. Expect Osweiler to play at least a quarter here as Texans' head coach Bill O'Brien knows he needs plenty of reps with fellow first-teamers.
On the flip side, the SF 49ers have a real-live quarterback battle on their hands with Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert currently listed as "co-starters" on the team's depth chart. Don't be surprised if whomever starts here plays with the second-stringers next week at Denver and then the Niners likely will make their call by Preseason Week 3. P.S., the 49ers are banking on WRs Torrey Smith and Quinton Patton for more than 63 total receptions this season.
In case you were wondering, Houston split its four Preseason pointspread verdicts last year while San Francisco failed to cover three-of-four summer games including a 23-10 loss at the 3.5-point favored Texans.
Current Line: 49ers (- 3.5) and 37 points
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK
The same two teams that squared off for last year's College Football National Championship Game - that's defending champ Alabama and runner-up Clemson - are right there at the top of the here-and-now Coaches Poll (and only separated by 61 points, we'll add) but there's major potential pitfalls straight ahead:
Alabama is a heavy-duty 10-point betting favorite right now for its season-opening game against USC in the so-called Cowboys Classic in Arlington on Sept. 3rd but road games at Ole Miss - the Rebels have won the last two head-to-head games - and at Arkansas, Tennessee and LSU could be problematic for a Tide team that brings back just one defensive line starter.
Clemson, on the other hand, roared its way to a 14-and-oh mark last year before getting bested by 'Bama 45-40 (while the Tigers covered the bloated 6.5-point spread) but going unbeaten this fall won't be easy even though Clemson's a 7-point betting fav for its season opener at Auburn on Sept. 3rd. Note that Dabo Swinney's squad plays at Georgia Tech off a "short week" on Thursday, Sept. 22 but does get a bye week prior to playing at Florida State on Oct. 29th. Still, one loss in the SEC (see Alabama last year) likely wouldn't cost Nick Saban's gang from another playoff berth but one loss by an ACC team could.
THE BASEBALL REPORT
Hey, with all the A-Rod talk surrounding the end of Alex Rodriguez's career with the New York Yankees - more ups and downs than an amusement park roller-coaster - what's been lost is the fact the American League East team is still in the hunt for a playoff berth while entering this weekend just 3.5 games back of the league's second wild card berth. Hmm, if there's an injury to one or two of the Bombers' big bats between now and year's end, would A-Rod be "asked" to return? ...
Finally, we know it's early in terms of handing out any awards but get this: If you asked us right this minute as to who deserves to be the National League's Manager of the Year, we'd probably split the vote between current Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and former Dodgers manager/current Miami boss Don Mattingly. Suffice to say, neither franchise would be as good if Mattingly stayed put in Hollywood, so you talk about "happy endings" for both sides!
Hey, we know Chicago Cubs' skipper Joe Maddon has his club playing 30 games over .500 but we're more impressed by the work of Roberts and Mattingly, so there!
NOTE: Plenty of NFL Preseason Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez.