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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, July 21, 2017 at 2:59 PM


Can you really believe it?

The National Football League kicks off its 2017 Preseason sked in two weeks (that's Thursday, August 3rd) when the Dallas Cowboys battle the Arizona Cardinals in the annual Hall of Fame Game ... and we're trusting the league that the field in Canton will be in a playable condition, right?

One week later it's a case of "everyone into the pool" as all 32 NFL teams will play a Preseason Week 1 game between Wednesday, August 9th and Sunday, August 13th and - just in case you're wondering - the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots will be hosting the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday, August 10th and there's a zero chance that Pats' QB Tom Brady will see action that evening.

Still, there will be plenty of quarterback battles going on all summer long with competitions with the following teams: The New York Jets, the Cleveland Browns, the Denver Broncos, the Chicago Bears and the San Francisco 49ers ... did we leave anyone out?

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are banging outs lots of winners in Major-League Baseball these days when you check in either right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453. 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. And the College Football kids get serious beginning on Saturday, August 26th when there's three games on the big board including Hawaii-UMass, Portland State-BYU and Stanford-Rice ... so know that we're gearing up for loads of NFL and College Football winners soon enough!

In other NFL News & Notes ...

Don't call this a case of being "blind-sided".

The Carolina Panthers just released OT Michael Oher of "The Blind Side" fame after he played in two-plus games a year ago before suffering a concussion that ended his 2016 season. Note that Oher did play every game in Carolina's Super Bowl season two years ago and was a key member of what was one of the league's better offensive lines till they were exposed in Super Bowl 50 by the Denver Broncos ...

The Dallas Cowboys figure to be busy looking to add some defensive pieces this summer. Okay, so maybe it's not earth-shattering news but the 'Boys just inked LB Justin Durant who spent his first six years in the NFL with Jacksonville and Detroit before signing with Dallas in 2013-14 and then playing with the NFC East team for parts of last year. Dallas would love to reel in another pass rusher - good luck! - and some secondary help for a team that last year ranked first in the league in rushing defense (allowed 83.5 ypg) but 26th in passing defense (260.4 ypg)


What, you're surprised?

The Ole Miss program that's pretty much been running wild and out of control announced late in the week that five-year head coach Hugh Freeze resigned following a "pattern of personal misconduct" and so assistant Matt Luke will step in and serve as the Rebels' interim head coach.

Is it too late in the summer to find a full-time replacement? Not necessarily although we believe Luke will keep the job for this upcoming season after he served as co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach.

Freeze finished his time at Ole Miss with a 39-25 record in his five full seasons in Oxford and his teams copped three bowl wins - beating Pittsburgh 38-17 in the 2012 BBVA Compass Bowl, topping Georgia Tech 25-17 in the 2013 Music City Bowl and crushing Oklahoma State 48-20 in the 2015 Sugar Bowl. Last year's Ole Miss squad finished 5-7 SU (straight-up) and failed to make a bowl game ...

Hey, speaking of the SEC, here's a little flashback to what the teams did spreadwise last year and some of these figures might surprise you:

Alabama finished 10-5 ATS (against the spread) with a spiffy 9-4 spread log whenever laying double-digit prices;
Arkansas went 5-8 versus the vig and the Hogs failed to cover three-of-four games in the favorite's role;
Auburn cashed out at 9-4 ATS and remember that fantastic 7-1 spread start to the '16 season?;
LSU was a dead-even and vig-losing 6-6 against the odds last year but did you know the Bayou Bengals went 3-4 ATS at home and that was the first time since 2008 that LSU registered a losing spread mark in Death Valley?;
Finally, Texas A&M produced a rotten 4-9 ATS log last year and the Aggies actually closed out the 2016 campaign with nine consecutive spread defeats after a 4-and-oh pointspread start ... really!


Are there gonna be any real shockers when it comes to the MLB Trade Deadline on July 31st?

There's some whispers that "name" pitchers such as Texas' Yu Darvish, Atlanta's Julio Teheran and San Francisco's Johnny Cueto all could be on the move in the coming days and if you're looking for potential trade partners we'd say Darvish could wind up in Arizona, Teheran might be headed to Houston and Cueto might soon be property of the Los Angeles Angels ...

And, while folks are naturally talking trades these days, don't sleep on the notion that a couple of managers could be gonzo in the next two weeks as Detroit's Brad Ausmus is on the hottest of hot seats (especially after that embarrassing 16-4 loss in Kansas City on Thursday night) and Cincinnati could cut the cord real soon with Bryan Price - the Reds are -80 in the runs differential category and really have fallen off the map lately ...

Finally, will this season be termed a success for the Milwaukee Brewers even if they continue to come apart at the seams and, let's say, don't make it to the post-season

Well, consider that Milwaukee once held a 5.5-game lead in the NL Central and might wind up losing the division by more than 5.5 games if things stay bogged down for the Brew Crew.
What once was an "A+" season might wind up being more like a "C+" when all's said and done.

NOTE: Plenty more MLB, NFL and NCAA Football News/Notes ahead!

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