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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, August 2, 2018 at 12:00 AM

THE NFL PRESEASON SWINGS INTO HIGH GEAR - IT''S RAVENS VS. BEARS IN TONITE''S ANNUAL HALL OF FAME GAME ...

THE BASEBALL REPORT: RE-VISITING THE TRADES THAT WERE NOT MADE!

The National Football League has pulled back the curtain on the 2018 preseason ... and that means it''s time to play ball and we''ll get right to it with tonite''s Hall of Fame Game showdown between the favored Baltimore Ravens (- 2.5) and the underdog Chicago Bears (total price is 34 points). Folks, we''ll clue you in shortly with what to expect from this pro football lid-lifter but first things first:

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will get the NFL preseason started with a bang with this evening''s annual Hall of Fame Game at 8 p.m. ET (NBC) in Canton as the Ravens and Bears clash leading up to this H.O.F. weekend in which one-time legendary Baltimore ILB Ray Lewis and iconic Chicago ILB Brian Urlacher will be among the gridiron greats to get enshrined into the hallowed halls. Plus, don''t forget that Jim Hurley and Company keep piling up the profits with Major-League Baseball - get all the MLB winners this week/weekend and this Hall of Fame Game bash online or at 1-800-323-4453.

HALL OF FAME GAME - at Canton, OH

BALTIMORE vs. CHICAGO - 8 p.m. ET, NBC
Want a Hall of Fame Game chock full of pre-game storylines? You got it!

Hey, we know that much of the sports world will be none too excited regarding tonight''s tilt at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium but check it out:

The Ravens - who last year finished 9-7 SU (straight-up) and 8-7-1 ATS (against the spread) in regular-season action while missing out on the post-season for a third consecutive year - say they won''t be playing any first-stringers on offense and so that means 33-year-old QB Joe Flacco (18 TDs, 13 INTs) will "hang out" on the sidelines while rookie QB Lamar Jackson (Louisville, 2016 Heisman Trophy winner) and Robert Griffin III (2011 Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor) snag the majority of the snaps against a Chicago defense that added to its already stout linebacking corps with first-round draftee LB Roquan Smith (Georgia).

On the flip side, the Bears (5-11 SU / 8-6-2 ATS in the 2017 regular season) have a real "newness" to their game with first-year head coach Matt Nagy taking the reins after a three-year dud run under John Fox (14-34 SU / 23-23-2 ATS). The one-time /short-time former offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs claims he''s thrilled so far with his team''s ability to grasp this RPO (Run / Pass Option) attack starring second-year QB Mitchell Trubisky (2,193 yards passing with 7 TDs and 7 INTs last year as a rookie from North Carolina) but we''re hearing Trubisky has been an "interception machine" thus far in camp. Let''s also see if Trubisky - who figures to play all/most of the first quarter - shows some comfortability here with free-agent TE Trey Burton (from the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles) who''s gonna be a likely favorite over-the-middle target here.

Spread Stats - The Ravens are a collective 8-and-oh ATS in preseason games the past two summers; the Bears are 4-0 spreadwise all-time in past Hall of Fame Games.

HALL OF FAME GAME - THE LAST 5 GAMES

YEAR WINNER SPREAD LOSER  SCORE
2017  Dallas - 1 Arizona 20-18
2016 NO GAME / UNSAFE PLAYING CONDITIONS
2015 Minnesota - 3.5  Pittsburgh 14-3
2014 NY Giants + 3 Buffalo 17-13
2013 Dallas  + 3 Miami 24-20
2012 New Orleans  - 2.5 Arizona 17-10

                               
Editor''s Note - There''s a full slate of NFL Preseason Games on tap next week including Thursday, August 9th when the Pittsburgh Steelers play the cross-state rival Philly Eagles and there''s lots more including Atlanta at the New York Jets on Friday, Aug. 10th and Minnesota at Denver on Saturday, Aug. 11th.


THE BASEBALL REPORT

No doubt about it: There were a flurry of Trade Deadline and pre-Deadline deals that helped to rock the Baseball world as RHP Chris Archer was shipped from Tampa Bay to Pittsburgh, 2B Brian Dozier also changed leagues as he went from Minnesota to the Los Angeles Dodgers and OF Tommy Pham went National League-to-American League with his move from St. Louis to Tampa Bay ... but what about some of the teams that didn''t pull the trigger? Let''s examine:

New York Mets - Count us among the folks not surprised that the woe-be-gone Mets (see Tuesday''s 25-4 loss in Washington) held tight to starting pitchers RHP Jacob de Grom, RHP Noah Syndergaard, RHP Zach Wheeler and LHP Steven Matz. While many "experts" thought the Mets should deal off a couple of ''em for future position player prospects, we think the Mets did the right thing although it''s possible they didn''t swing any deals because current three-headed GM monster John Ricco, Omar Minaya and J.P. Ricciardi couldn''t agree on a move (or two).

Colorado Rockies - Yes, this NL West contender sat on their collective hands in the hours/minutes leading into the trade deadline while everyone was screaming for the Rocks to land another bat (see left fielder) and another arm or two in the bullpen but insiders say the costs were too high for the likes of now-New York Yankees'' reliever Zach Britton and/or OF Leonys Martin (now with the Cleveland Indians) - but why didn''t Colorado make a better pitch last week for LHP Cole Hamels (now a member of the Chicago Cubs) or perhaps Los Angeles Angels OF Justin Upton?

Toronto Blue Jays - Wondering why the Jays didn''t deal off veteran 3B Josh Donaldson, DH/OF Curtis Granderson and/or HR leader Yangervis Solarte (17 dingers leads Toronto this year) in order to retool a team that certainly is in need of a "makeover". No question that Toronto rid itself of a major headache in reliever Roberto Osuna to Houston but we say the North of the Border crew should have been more active in attempting to rebuild. Might the aforementioned Mets and these Blue Jays have a bigger plan in mind this offseason with perhaps former Jay righty Syndergaard heading back in a package deal that would bring Donaldson to NYC? Stay tuned.

NOTE: Lots more NFL News & Notes in the coming editions of Jim Sez.
 

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