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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, July 28, 2017 at 1:04 PM


Gonna head into the final weekend in July with lots of good stuff on the Major-League Baseball menu - how does a pair of intense intra-division matchups sound to you with the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers banging heads at Miller Park with the National League Central Division teams fighting it out for first place ... and then don't sleep on the Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees in the American League East where it's a four-game set that actually opens up Thursday night in The Bronx.

Get ready for those noisy Cubs fans making the trek up north for this super-important three-game set with these clubs separated by mere percentage points in the NL Central standings. Hey, it helps that Joe Maddon's defending champs roared out of the All-Star Game break with some pop in their bats - remember the Cubbies scored 27 runs in that three-game sweep in Baltimore the weekend right after the break - but it's the starting pitching that's really come to the rescue with new arrival LHP Jose Quintana having copped back-to-back wins against the Orioles and St. Louis Cardinals. If the Cubs can win two-of-three here, then Milwaukee's gonna start to get a bit scared but Brewer power bats 1B Eric Thames (24 home runs) and 3B Travis Shaw (23 dingers) could sway this series in the home team's favor.

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!

TAMPA BAY at NEW YORK YANKEES - Thurs, Fri, Sat & Sun
It's a monstrous four-game set in the "Boogie Down Bronx" where the visiting Tampa Bay Rays have made the most of a revived offense this year that ranks third in the AL in home runs and fifth in team ERA - no wonder manager Kevin Cash's club is hanging tough. On the flip side, the Yankees sported a run differential of nearly 100 runs more than Tampa Bay and yet these clubs are eyelashes apart in the AL East standings ... might it be because NYY's a rotten 9-19 in one-run games this year? If New York's back-of-the-bullpen guys RHP Dellin Betances (major control issues for weeks now) and closer LHP Aroldis Chapman (his straight-as-a-string fastball is quite hittable these days) cannot be take charge guys here, than TB will create havoc and keep a close eye on DH Corey Dickerson (team leader in runs scored and batting average).


Folks, lots of College Football coverage in these Jim Sez pages from here on out - we'll resume with more Conference-by-Conference quick-hitter comments in tomorrow's column space - but let's start a series of segments regarding the over/under regular-season wins totals for a slew of NCAA Football teams (and remember all prices below are based on $100 per-play wagers). Today, it's ...

LSU ... 9 over - 140
First thing you always check out when it comes to these Bayou Bengals is the annual tilt against Alabama - and this year LSU is in Tuscaloosa on the evening of November 4th but whether or not Ed Orgeron's squad cashes with more than 9 wins this year likely depends on the other SEC road games at Miss State, Florida, Ole Miss and Tennessee and that sure looks like a real death march to us ... probably an "under" plus the tiny price (+ 110).

OHIO STATE ... 10.5 over -160
Let's see: There's a legit Heisman Trophy candidate in quarterback J.T. Barrett, a potential game-breaker wide receiver in Johnny Dixon and a defense that's even better than the one that allowed just 15.5 ppg a year ago. The problem spots for Urban Meyer's squad is a secondary that lost three starters to the NFL - like what else is new! - and a schedule that features a home game against revenge-minded Oklahoma in September and the year-end tilt at not-so-friendly Ann Arbor.

WEST VIRGINIA ... 7 over -135
Most of the college football publications/web sites out there believe the here-and-now WVU Mountaineers are a legit top 25 entry ... so why does this over/under wins total seem on the shy side? Maybe it's because West Virginia has four rough-and-tumble Big 12 road games on this slate including trips to TCU, Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma plus newcomer QB Will Grier (formerly on Florida) might need some time to adjust to head coach Dana Holgorsen's manic ways. We say the 'Neers get seven wins tops.



Okay, so we're a week out from the NFL Hall of Fame Game - yes, we believe the field in Canton will be "playable" after last year's mess! - with the Cowboys and Cardinals set to clash on Thursday, August 3rd.

Meanwhile, if you're looking for a few teams that will take this 2017 NFL Preseason seriously while attempting to set a winning tone for the year ahead, then consider the following (and we're not talking any teams led by first-year coaches 'cause they are always out to prove something):

MIAMI - The '17 Dolphins want to be the franchise's first team in more than a decade to post back-to-back playoff years and second-year boss Adam Gase wants to open up the playbook a bit more.

PHILADELPHIA - Last year's Eagles lost six games decided by a full touchdown or less and so the preseason will allow Doug Pederson's crew to pay more attention to the little things that add up in close games. Expect more minutes for starters in the Week 2 and Week 3 games this summer.

NOTE: More NFL and College Football goodies in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez.

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