Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, August 3, 2018 at 12:00 AM
NFL HALL OF FAME GAME - THE REAL KEY STORIES FROM THURSDAY NIGHT'S PRESEASON-OPENING TILT FROM CANTON ...
THE WEEKEND BASEBALL REPORT - EVERYONE'S TALKING YANKEES-RED SOX (BUT DID YOU NOTICE THERE'S A WORLD SERIES REMATCH GOING IN HOLLYWOOD!)
The Baltimore Ravens have seen their future ... and rookie QB Lamar Jackson is not it just yet!
True, Thursday's NFL Hall of Fame Game - a 17-16 non-cover win by the Ravens over the 2.5-point underdog Chicago Bears - featured a slew of rookies / free agents / gridiron journeymen but most eyes were focused on the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner who wound up playing the second half while completing only 4-of-10 passing attempts for 33 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
No doubt Jackson flashed a strong arm on some throws including a seven-yard scoring strike to fellow first-round draftee TE Hayden Hurst (South Carolina) but he didn't quite put enough "mustard" on a sideline throw that was picked up and he didn't pick up a couple of well-timed blitzes thrown his way by a Ravens' defense that played zero starters. Still, it's not Jackson's rather underwhelming play in Canton last night that has drawn our Jim Sez attention here in today's column ... it's wondering why Ravens' head coach John Harbaugh and staff didn't start Jackson and play some "ones" with 'em once everyone knew incumbent QB Joe Flacco wasn't going to play at all.
If you wish to hand us that "fifth game" business - both the Ravens and Bears are playing five preseason games this summer, of course - and so no need to rush anyone into action, that's fine but don't you think it would have been wise to let the former University of Louisville super-stat star get under center right at the start of the game and maybe play a couple of offensive line / running back / wide receiver starters with 'em?
On the flip side, there were the "new-look" Bears under first-year head coach Matt Nagy choosing not to play their second-year slinger Mitchell Trubisky - the NFC North crew instead played a combination of Chase Daniel (8-of-16 passing for 53 yards with one TD and two INTs) and the six-foot-six Tyler Bray (18-of-34 passing for 181 yards with one TD) - and that has us a tad confused:
Why not allow Trubisky - who played in a dozen games a year ago and threw 7 TDs and 7 INTs while often appearing lost - some extra time here and let him get a better feel for Nagy's new RPO (Run / Pass Option) attack ... Anyone got an answer?
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers plan on a monster NFL preseason this month and it all started with last night's "under" winner in Baltimore's 17-16 non-cover win against Chicago in the annual Hall of Fame Game. Jim's clients cashed as the game went "under" 35 points and there's lots more winners straight ahead. Plus, don't forget that Jim Hurley keeps piling up the profits with Major-League Baseball - get all the MLB winners this weekend online or 1-800-323-4453. 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 plus it's the Atlanta Falcons at the New York Jets on Friday, Aug. 10th and the Minnesota Vikings at the Denver Broncos on Saturday, Aug. 11th.
THE WEEKEND BASEBALL REPORT
Hey, nobody's gonna deny that the weekend series everyone's chatting up is taking place at Fenway Park - the American League's East-leading Boston Red Sox (76-34) battered the hated New York Yankees (68-39) by the score of 15-7 last night to kick-start that four-game set that includes a Sunday Night game on ESPN - but did you happen to notice that there's a World Series rematch going on in southern California?
The Los Angeles Dodgers (61-49) - fresh off last night's 21-5 victory against the Milwaukee Brewers in which LA whacked seven home runs including two apiece by LF Joc Pederson and RF Yasiel Puig - welcome into town the defending World Series champion Houston Astros (69-41) and we wouldn't put it past these two clubs if they met again in October for another dizzying Fall Classic. The 'Stros won it all last year with a Game 7 triumph in LA and in 2018 here's Houston with a sizzling 37-17 road record at press time and you might have noticed that tonight's starter for A.J. Hinch's crew is daddy-to-be RHP Justin Verlander (see 0.89 WHIP and 2.24 ERA).
It's not often that a World Series rematch basically gets lost in the proverbial shuffle but that's the case - and especially if you're a believer in "East Coast bias" - but dig a bit beneath the surface here and you'll see the Astros (and not the Red Sox) lead the AL in run differential at + 185 while the Dodgers (+ 109) are the best in that particular category in the NL ... so there!
NOTE: Catch all the NCAA Football, NFL Preseason and Major-League Baseball goodies all month long right here in Jim Sez and keep cashin' in with all the action - hey, there's a full slate of NFL Preseason Games next week (beginning Thursday night with a monster card) and we'll have Sides / Totals winners right through the month of August.