Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, July 25, 2017 at 8:42 AM
NFL CAMPS OPENIN' UPALL OVER THE PLACE PLUS WE'VE GOT THE FIRST OF OUR COLLEGE FOOTBALL CONFERENCE-BY-CONFERENCE FORECASTS WITH THE AMERICAN IN OUR SIGHTS
If it's late July, it means NFL training camps are opening up for action and today we will touch on a few teams that are setting up shop Wednesday/Thursday:
BUFFALO - at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, NY
There's a whole new feel to this year's Bills camp with new head coach Sean McDermott refusing to term this a "rebuilding year" even though this AFC East squad is coming off a 7-9 SU (straight-up) and 6-10 ATS (against the spread) campaign under former big-mouth boss-man Rex Ryan.
Spread Notes - The Bills failed to cover five of their six divisional duels a year ago but overall Buffalo is a sturdy 13-10-1 ATS against fellow AFC East squads since the start of the 2013 season.
DENVER - at UCHealth Training Center in Englewood, CO
All eyes are on the quarterback derby between Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch but much of the Broncos' success this year will depend on a rookie class that has been getting pre-camp rave reviews. Note that in 2015 - when the Broncos won the Super Bowl - there were seven rookies that made the team's opening week roster and then last year there were eight rookies that cracked the Denver opening-day roster. Watch for uber-physical OT Garrett Bolles (Utah) who should eke out the starting job over Ty Sambrailo.
Spread Notes - The Broncos are a collective 49-36-3 ATS since the start of the 2012 season (that's a nifty .576 winning rate).
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!
NEW ORLEANS - Early word is this year's Saints will sport as many as six new position starters (including RB Adrian Peterson, of course) and RG Larry Warford comes into camp as the most expensive off-season pick-up for this NFC South squad. Warford inked on the dotted line for $8.5 million per year after playing his first four seasons in Detroit and his play will determine to a great extent how Peterson and fellow RB Mark Ingram tote the ball in '17.
Spread Notes - Last year's Saints went on a 4-0-1 spread run and then ended the season on a three-game pointspread winning streak en route to a better-than-you-thought 10-5-1 pointspread mark. Folks, that's the best single-season spread mark for the Saints since the 13-5 ATS log back in 2011.
PHILADELPHIA - Believe it or not, the last time the Eagles won a playoff game was way, way back in 2008 (wins over Minnesota and the New York Giants that year before an NFC Championship Game loss in Arizona) and if Philly's gonna make it back to the promised land - and note there's been no playoff berth at all since 2013 - than a deep/diverse ground game is gonna have to take major heat off QB Carson Wentz. The quartet of RBs includes LeGarrette Blount, Darren Sproles, Donnel Pumphrey and Wendell Smallwood offers a speed/power blend and could create major problems for fellow NFC East defenses.
Spread Notes - Strange but true, the 2016 Eagles covered their first and last three games but went just 2-8 against the odds in between.
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT - TODAY WE CHECK OUT THE AAC
Okay, so that might be a theme being slung around these days by the folks residing in the White House but we have a different slant on the "buy American" theme:
The American Athletic Conference is definitely a league on the rise and one that would love to get a spot along with the so-called Power 5 teams for legit berths in the College Football Playoffs. Hmm, probably that's not gonna happen just yet but if the likes of USF or Navy can run off an unbeaten season here in 2017, then you might get some momentum for one of those teams to be part of the four-team playoff.
Hey, last year Houston topped Oklahoma in an early September tilt, Navy kayoed Notre Dame in an early November bash and East Carolina pulled an early-year stunner against N.C. State - so there's no doubt these AAC teams can lay down the law and shake things up for the big boys and this year we're already anticipating the Temple at Notre Dame game (see Sept. 2) and the Navy-Notre Dame rematch (see Nov. 18)
BEST TEAM - USF
The Bulls of South Florida won 11 games last year under now-former head coach Willie Taggart (now at Oregon) and so it's up to Charlie Strong to pick up the baton and get USF runnin' full speed ahead: If QB Quinton Flowers - who accounted for 42 passing/rushing TDs last season - keeps this fast-paced attack on course than this Tampa team could run the table.
BEST PLAYER - Quinton Flowers, QB, USF
Here's two more stats on this sizzling star: Last year Flowers threw for 2,812 yards and ran for another 1,530 yards while sparking USF to point totals of 42-or-more points on nine different occasions.
BEST GAME OF THE YEAR - Navy at Temple, Nov. 3
Last year the Temple Owls went into Annapolis for the AAC Championship Game and blitzed the Midshipmen 34-10. Will revenge be sweet for Ken Niumatalolo's squad?
HIDDEN STORY - If UCF head coach Scott Frost (just 6-7 SU in his first year) puts together a monster season, he could be a hot prospect for a Power 5 league though getting back to alma mater Nebraska might be a tough task unless this year's Big Red club flops big-time under Mike Riley.
AAC Championship Game Prediction: USF beats Tulsa
NOTE: Lots more Football coming in the next editions of Jim Sez.