Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, July 14, 2017 at 4:00 PM
BASEBALL'S BACK!!! HERE'S THE TOP WEEKEND SERIES
PLUS MORE NFL TEAM-BY-TEAM UPDATES AS WE BRING YOU THE JETS, RAMS AND FALCONS
Ladies and gents, the four-day All-Star Game break is in the rear-view mirror ... and now it's time to rev up the engines for the back half of this 2017 Major-League Baseball regular season and we'll begin in a moment with a look at a couple of top series this hot-hot-hot July weekend.
Here's some key MLB series to check out this summertime weekend:
NEW YORK YANKEES (45-41) at BOSTON (50-39) - Fri, Sat & Sun DH
The Bosox opened up a 3.5-game lead over both the Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays (47-43) as we hit the All-Star break but the big questions looming are can the Sox stay on top with the American League's next-to-worst home-run hitting team (only 92 taters in all)?
The flip side here is the power of Bombers' rookie phenom RF Aaron Judge - fresh off demolishing the competition in the Home Run Derby in Miami, as you well know - but the weekend's real story may be the Yankees' bullpen stars Dellin Betances and closer Aroldis Chapman who were swooning before each threw a scoreless inning in last Saturday's comeback win against Milwaukee. If Betances/Chapman throw strikes and avoid the "loud" innings, maybe Joe Girardi's club can win three-of-four here.
The Boston side of things says 2B Dustin Pedroia (team-leading .382 on base percentage) had a little extra time to rest some bumps/bruises during the break while OF Mookie Betts - who made a sweet throw from deep in centerfield to chuck out Colorado's Nolan Arenado trying to tag up from first base in the All-Star Game - is looking to improve on his 16 HR, 53 RBI and 61 runs scored stats.
MINNESOTA (45-43) at HOUSTON (60-29) - Fri, Sat & Sun
No doubt this could be a "fall preview" as long as the Minnesota Twins can keep up this winning pace and make it to the AL playoffs (maybe a Yankees vs. Twins wild card game with the winner getting the 'Stros?) but how about this shaky Twins' pitching staff (4.89 team ERA, 14th in the league) going up against this vaunted Houston offense that actually sports eight players that have scored 39-or-more runs starring OF George Springer (76 runs scored with a .993 OPS). Remember Minny's 25-15 on the road this year ... really!
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are banging outs lots of winners in Major-League Baseball these days and they will get you plenty of winners in the days/weeks ahead. All you really need to do is check in either right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 and cash in big. Plus, the Football Season isn't far off as NFL Preseason action swings into gear on Thursday, August 3rd with the NFL Hall of Fame Game between the Dallas Cowboys versus the Arizona Cardinals.
NFL TEAM-BY-TEAM GLANCES
It is summertime and that means the annual Jim Sez report on all 32 NFL teams with our quick-hitter looks continuing today with the New York Jets, Los Angeles Rams and the Atlanta Falcons ... and check out our quickie pointspread ditties too. Note that last year's SU (straight-up) records appear right next to the team name below:
NEW YORK JETS (5-11) - Now that the Jets have waved bye-bye to both WRs Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, there will be plenty of opportunities out there to shine for the no-name likes of Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Charone Peake and rookies ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen ... who? Exactly, as NYJ retools the team's whole offense although don't be shocked if TE Austin Sefarian-Jenkins becomes a larger piece in this passing game now orchestrated by first-year OC John Morton.
Pointspread Notes - No doubt about it: The 2016 J-E-T-S were a major m-e-s-s with a 6-9-1 ATS (against the spread) mark that included a four-game spread losing skid from Week 3 thru Week 6. The '16 Jets finished a shabby 3-6-1 vig-wise when placed in the underdog role.
LOS ANGELES RAMS (4-12) - Go ahead and check out the numbers from a year ago: The '16 Rams allowed 26-or-more points on eight different occasions and, rather predictably, won just one of those games (see a 37-32 triumph at Tampa Bay in a Week 3 tilt). Now, new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is hoping to instill some pride in a unit that seriously underachieved last year.
Still, Phillips is keeping fingers crossed that the contract issues involving DT Aaron Donald (28 sacks, 163 tackles in his three prior years in the NFL) won't be a distraction for a team that surrendered 394 points last year (ninth-worst in the NFL).
Pointspread Notes - After a sleepy summer showing on HBO's Hard Knocks a year ago, the Rams went out and then bombed spreadwise with a 4-10-2 spread mark. The NFC West crew dropped its final seven pointspread verdicts and overall finished 3-5-1 ATS away and 1-5-1 ATS at home. The Rams now are a collective 25-36-3 vig-wise the past four years.
ATLANTA (13-6) - Super Bowl hangover? Heck, Falcons' veteran QB Matt Ryan recently told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this team won't be having any of it! In fact, Ryan was quoted as saying, "We got together ... (said) it was time to move on. It was time to look forward."
The 34-28 overtime loss to the New England Patriots in SB 51 might well go down in sports history as one of - if not - the most crushing title-game defeats ever but maybe there's enough changes (such as new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian) in store that will allow the Falcons to get past that bitter setback.
Pointspread Notes - The 2016 NFC champs pounded out a 12-7 ATS mark (yes, the Falcons failed to cover that brutal Super Bowl 51 overtime loss to 3-point fav New England) and break things down and you'll see Atlanta registered a 7-5 ATS mark as betting favorites, a 5-2 ATS log as underdogs, a 5-5 spread mark at home and a 7-2 spread mark away.
NOTE: More MLB and NFL in tomorrow's weekend edition of Jim Sez.