Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, August 11, 2017 at 2:49 PM
ZEKE GETS ZAPPED WITH 6-GAME SUSPENSION (IT'LL BE LESS!) AND NOW COWBOYS MUST COPE...MORE NFL PRESEASON WEEK 1 GOODIES
The hammer came down - and it came down hard - on Dallas Cowboys' second-year RB Ezekiel Elliott for his alleged domestic violence episodes as the NFL stole the Friday afternoon headlines with the announcement that "Zeke" will be suspended for the first six games this season.
Folks, no way will this stay a six-game suspension as Elliott's people will appeal the ruling this weekend (if they have not already by the time you're reading this) and when it all shakes down we say Elliott will be suspended four games, meaning he figures to be back in time for the Oct. 8th home game against the Green Bay Packers.
Still, how do the Cowboys now cope without their best offensive weapon and - truly - the cornerstone player on this team that figured to be one of the top Super Bowl picks this year?
Well, take note the Cowboys didn't nab a single running back in this past April's draft and so initial reaction would be that the combo of Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris will be the main ball-carriers but don't discount an August trade ... heck, the Buffalo Bills shook up the NFL landscape by dealing WR Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams on Friday just moments after the Elliott suspension was announced and so it's not as if the 'Boys have to sit tight here especially if they believe Elliott will be gone for up to six games.
If you're checking out NFL rosters for additional depth, the Cowboys might be searching out a RB Matt Forte from the New York Jets or perhaps a RB Chris Ivory from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Newly-minted Hall of Fame Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones might well be "furious" - ESPN's Adam Schefter said his real statement was chock full of profanities when he heard the Elliott suspension - but be better not waste any time trying to shore up a ground game that must remain a team strength behind that awesome offensive line.
Got it, Jerry?
The 2017 NFL Preseason has swung into high gear with a full slate of games all this weekend including Sunday's matinee action between the Detroit Lions at the Indianapolis Colts and a prime-timer on the same network between the Seattle Seahawks at the Los Angeles Chargers. Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will be banging out tons of Sides & Totals NFL Preseason Week 1 winners all weekend long with a reminder there's College Football on tap beginning August 26st - and also remember to get the daily winners in Major-League Baseball when you check in either right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453. Pile up your greenbacks as we inch closer to the start of regular-season play ... win now and build up a neat financial cushion!
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 and there's some rumbling that the G-men will be taking some snaps away from Flowers this summer if he slides back any more.
Current Line: Giants (- 4) and 35.5 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. The Bengals also are hinting that rookie Joe Mixon (Oklahoma) could steal the starting spot if he can impress in these preseason games.
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. Meanwhile, San Francisco could still be shopping TE Vance McDonald - he could be getting "showcased" in this game at Arrowhead Stadium.
Current Line: Chiefs (- 4.5) and 37.5 points
On Saturday, it's ...
TENNESSEE at NEW YORK JETS - 7:30 p.m. ET
There were three wide receivers tabbed in the first nine picks in this past April's NFL Draft and the numero uno guy selected - Titans' WR Corey Davis (Western Michigan) - is listed as "week-to-week" with a hamstring problem that could be worse than the AFC South team is letting on. So, in this preseason opener we'll keep eyes on fellow rookie Taywan Taylor (Western Kentucky) who hopes to crack the top three wide outs on the Titans' depth chart.
Speaking of rookies, New York Jets' SS Jamal Adams (LSU and FS Marcus Maye (Florida) have been the talk of the camp ... when folks aren't talking about NYJ's wobbly QB situation. Expect second-year pro Christian Hackenberg to get some snaps here with the NYJ first team.
Current Line: Titans (- 3) and 37 points
DALLAS (1-0) at LOS ANGELES RAMS - 9 p.m. ET, NFL Network
We know, we know: Last week's aforementioned Hall of Fame Game win against Arizona featured some lively play from Cowboys WR Brice Butler (two catches for 78 yards) but hard to ignore the fact the Dallas "D" was a sieve while allowing the Cards to score touchdowns on back-to-back game-opening drives (covering 75 and 64 yards) en route to a 15-0 lead. No doubt would expect a more spirited start here from a Dallas defense that will include second-year LB Jaylon Smith. Meanwhile, think Rams' WRs Tavon Austin and Robert Woods are fretting down-the-line targets now that the aforementioned Watkins is on board.
Current Line: Cowboys (- 3) and 37.5 points
OAKLAND at ARIZONA (0-1) - 10 p.m. ET
Best news about the Cardinals' two-point loss to Dallas in the H.O.F. Game was the performance by expected third-string QB Blaine Gabbert (11-of-14 passing for 185 yards) - another strong showing here and Gabbert could move ahead of Drew Stanton on the depth chart and that's no small news considering the injury history of starter Carson Palmer. Okay, Raiders, fans, don't get freaked out by the leg injury to WR Amari Cooper who won't play here.
Current Line: Cardinals (- 3) and 40 points
On Sunday, it's ...
DETROIT at INDIANAPOLIS - 1:30 p.m. ET, NFL Network
The Indy Colts won't just be missing QB Andrew Luck for the whole preseason, they'll be without the guy who snaps 'em the ball too. Center Ryan Kelly suffered a foot injury in Thursday's practice and now there's concern he could miss time right up to including Week 1 of the regular season. On a better note, the Colts are pumped to see how first-round draftee FS Malik Hooker (Ohio State) and second-rounder CB Quincy Wilson (Florida) perform against Detroit's pass-first attack - should see a quarter or more here from Lions' rookie QB Brad Kaaya.
Current Line: Lions/Colts (Pick 'Em) and 36.5 points
SEATTLE at LOS ANGELES CHARGERS - 8 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Boy, the injury bug has bitten a whole lot of NFL teams even before they've set foot on the field for a single preseason tilt - Seattle WR Doug Baldwin suffered a lower leg/ankle-related injury in Thursday's practice and so he's a no-go till further notice but it'll be interesting to see how the Seahawks dole out playing time this summer to RBs Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise as keep in mind this NFC West crew finished 25th in the NFL in rushing last year. As far as the now-relocated Chargers, there's some drama when it comes to who backs up RB Melvin Gordon: Expect Branden Oliver, Andre Williams and Kenjon Barner to get turns here for new head coach Anthony Lynn's squad.
Current Line: Chargers (- 2) and 37.5 points
NOTE: More NFL Preseason and College Football Conference Snapshots in the next Jim Sez.