Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, August 10, 2017 at 5:55 PM
THE NFL PRESEASON WEEK 1 REPORT - THE FRIDAY NITE MENU PLUS SOME KEY/DAUNTING QUESTIONS REGARDING THE UPCOMING '17 SEASON ...
COLLEGE FOOTBALL ODDS & ENDS
Ladies and gents, if you listened to all the "experts" out there this summer than you might be so inclined to think NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should just hand off the Vince Lombardi Trophy to the New England Patriots one mo' time even before a single game has been played.
But wait a second!
The Pats - who are the defending champs, have won two of the last three Super Bowls and have five shiny trophies in their display case dating back to the 2001 season - are indeed the odds-on favorites to win it all again come February 4, 2018 in Minnesota but there are a slew of questions that surround 'em right here/right now:
Will now 40-year-old QB Tom Brady lose anything off his fastball and might opposing defenses blitz 'em more often this year with the intent of piling up the hits (legal or otherwise!)?
Are all those off-season acquisitions "guaranteed" to be big hits this year as WR Brandin Cooks and TE Dwayne Allen have been receiving rave reviews in the media, but will they actually make the Pats a better team?
And what about the New England defense that could use some help with the pass rush: Note that New England ranked right in the middle of the NFL pack in sacks last year (they tied for 16th in the NFL with 34 takedowns). Will that unit step it up or will the Patriots' secondary be forced to cover an extra second or two downfield when there is not a great pass rush?
Guess what we're trying to say here is the Pats - despite all the hype this summer - are no sure thing and even they've "repeated" only one time in their glorious history (see the 2004 season).
Okay, here's another NFL "hot topic" ...
The team that the Patriots beat in last year's Super Bowl - those Atlanta Falcons - averaged a whopping 33.8 ppg to lead the league in scoring last year in regular-season play and then proceeded to score 36, 44 and 28 points in its post-season games but now NFL defenses/defensive coordinators have had several months to analyze/digest what the Falcons actually do on offense and so should we expect a downtick in the production of this Atlanta offense?
Well, the Falcons didn't make any major offseason upgrades on offense (note they didn't draft a skilled position player till snagging RB Brian Hill from Wyoming with the 156st overall pick) and there's no guarantees that the O-line will improve and note last year Atlanta started the same offensive line in all 19 games ...
The 2017 NFL Preseason really swings into high gear with a full slate of games this week with Seven (7) games on this Thursday night docket, Three (3) on Friday night, Three (3) on Saturday and another Two (2) games come Sunday including NFL Network matinee action between the Detroit Lions at the Indianapolis Colts. 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
On Friday, it's ...
PITTSBURGH at NEW YORK GIANTS -- 7 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Plenty going on with both of these teams in the Summer of '17 as reports continue to circulate that Steelers' QB Ben Roethlisberger will retire at year's end (or is that just Big Ben circulating those reports?) while Giants' camp continues to be a day-by-day account of WR Odell Beckham, Jr. and his latest charades. In this tilt. The Giants want to see if LT Ereck Flowers shows improvement against the Steelers" "ones" on defense - the one-time first-round pick is basically "on probation" these days.
Current Line: Giants (- 3.5) and 36.5 points
TAMPA BAY at CINCINNATI - 7:30 p.m. ET
Now that we've watched the first episode of the HBO Hard Knocks feature starring the here-and-now Tampa Bay Buccaneers you get the sense that the Bucs are feeling some heat after not making it to the post-season for the past decade - on the flip side the Bengals say backup quarterback A.J. McCarron won't be traded to Denver but will get plenty of snaps here.
Current Line: Bengals (- 2) and 37 points
SAN FRANCISCO at KANSAS CITY - 9 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Lots of positive vibes coming from KayCee's camp where rookie QB Patrick Mahomes is "making all the throws" but the Chiefs' depth chart has ''em third behind starter Alex Smith and Tyler Bray.
Current Line: Chiefs (- 4) and 38 points
COLLEGE FOOTBALL ODDS & ENDS
So, what do you do for a pointspread encore one year after banging out a bunch of "W's"?
The 2016 edition of the Colorado Buffaloes bagged a 10-4 ATS (against the spread) log that included eight consecutive season-opening covers but this year's crew must replace eight defensive starters and there's some in-house coaching situations that must be straightened away ...
And Penn State is fresh off a rollicking 9-4-1 ATS mark that featured upset wins against 17.5-point fav Ohio State and 3-point favorite Wisconsin (the latter in the Big 10 Championship Game). Can fourth-year head coach James Franklin keep the Nittanies in the plus column spreadwise with this bunch starring returnee QB Trace McSorley (3,614 yards passing with 29TDs)? Note that Penn State finished last year on an electric nine-game spread winning streak - easily the school's best with a sixth-game ATS winning streak back in the 2012 campaign.
Go ahead and look it up!
NOTE: More NFL Preseason Week 1 goodies in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez.