Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, August 7, 2017 at 1:47 PM
THE NFL PRESEASON WEEK 1 - THE CUTLER SIGNING WITH THE FISH IS WEEKEND'S BIGGEST STORY BUT WE'RE ALSO LOOKING AHEAD TO TEXANS-PANTHERS (ON WEDNESDAY) AND MORE! ...
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL UPDATE: MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE REPORT
Reunited ... and it feels so good?
Hmm, the weekend past was chock full of fun National Football League stories but none was bigger than the news that former Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler was signing with the Miami Dolphins - and that means a reunion between quarterback and one-time Bears' offensive coordinator Adam Gase.
It also meant that the Las Vegas and off-shore betting houses put Miami's over/under wins total "on hold" along with Odds to Win the Division till they determine what Cutler will exactly mean to the Dolphins and the AFC East too.
Okay, the Cutler signing wasn't exactly surprising news even though the moody one was "retired" and set to take on a new challenge of being a Fox game analyst.
No doubt the long-time Chicago slinger has been informed that injured Miami QB Ryan Tannehill will be gone for a "significant" period of time and so in steps Cutler to attempt to save the Dolphins' 2017 season and Gase is keeping fingers crossed that the one-year, $1 million contract that Cutler signed will keep 'em stoked.
Insiders to this whole story seem to believe that Cutler's shelf life in South Beach could be a whole lot longer than simply six or eight weeks or even a whole season - Tannehill could be cut after the year and his cap money would not kill Miami.
So, maybe, this isn't merely a short-term solution, if you know what we mean. So, will Cutler make a dent in the week-to-week Las Vegas wagering lines in Miami games? Right now we'd say his presence has a minimal effect on the price tags, but nothing major.
The 2017 NFL Preseason really swings into high gear this week as there's a full slate of games beginning with Wednesday's tilt between the Houston Texans at the Carolina Panthers (that's on NFL Network) plus there's 7 games on Thursday (featuring Washington at Baltimore) and there's more action next Friday/Saturday/Sunday as all 32 NFL teams hop into the pool. Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will be banging out tons of Sides & Totals NFL Preseason Week 1 winners with a reminder there's College Football on tap beginning August 26st - and get the daily winners in Major-League Baseball too when you check in either right here online , or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.
NFL PRESEASON WEEK 1: HOUSTON at CAROLINA -- 7:30 p.m. ET, NFL Network
The truth of the matter is we may not see much of Carolina QB Cam Newton this whole preseason - the one-time league MVP did "light throwing" in the Panthers' practice this past Sunday - but you may see some offensive wizardry from the NFC South at some point here in this mid-week exhibition game as word is first-round draft pick RB Christian McCaffrey has been operating a version of the "wildcat offense".
It seems that Carolina head coach Ron Rivera has given long-time offensive coordinator Mike Shula the blessing to play around with the wildcat (see June minicamp) and so just might see a couple of "jet sweeps" with McCaffrey keeping the ball here.
On the flip side, all eyes are on the Texans' quarterback battle as Tom Savage figures to hold off rookie Deshaun Watson though the latter has been sharp in camp. Gut feeling is Savage will start here, play a couple of offensive series and then turn it over to Watson for the remainder of the first half - if head coach Bill O'Brien feels Watson is overwhelmed at any point, he could yank 'em sooner.
P.S., expect star defensive end J.J. Watt to play a series here for the Texans' defense following a pair of back surgeries last year.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S CONFERENCE SNAPSHOTS - IT'S THE MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE
It was a heckuva ride for the 2016 Western Michigan Broncos - they didn't lose a game until that 24-16 loss/push versus Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl - and now you wonder if the here-and-now Toledo Rockets are gonna give the Mid-American Conference fans a similar run in the season ahead. The Rockets are simply loaded with veteran talent as QB Logan Woodside comes in fresh off a nation's-best 45 touchdown passes and speedy WR Cody Thompson (1,269 yards receiving and 11 TDs last season) could be this year's Biletnikoff Award winner.
BEST TEAM - Toledo
If second-year head coach Jason Candle can get his Rockets to semi-stun the host Miami Hurricanes on Sept. 23rd, than this MAC crew could be headed for a perfect season.
BEST PLAYER - Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan
The Broncos didn't wave bye-bye to all of last year's stellar talent as this left tackle could be a top 10 draft choice next spring.
BEST GAME - Nov. 2, Northern Illinois at Toledo
Keep in mind last year Toledo topped Northern Illinois 31-24 at Chicago's White Sox Park (or whatever they are calling it these days!) and the return match should be a real wing-ding.
HIDDEN STORY - Last year's Miami-Ohio squad covered six of its final seven games to go 9-4 ATS (against the spread) on the year. Can there be more pointspread magic from the RedHawks in '17?
MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PREDICTION - Toledo over Bowling Green
NOTE: There's more NFL Preseason Week 1 goodies - we'll be checking out Thursday's games featuring Atlanta at Miami, Washington at Baltimore and Philadelphia at Green Bay -- plus College Football Conference Snapshots and Baseball too in the next edition of Jim Sez.