Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, June 29, 2019 at 12:00 AM
THE JIM HURLEY WEEKEND UPDATE: MORE NFL TEAM-BY-TEAM REPORTS
Hey, what's the buzz? There's NBA Free Agency hitting the fan this weekend plus a whole lot of key Major-League Baseball - all eyes on London for New York Yankees versus Boston Red Sox but don't sleep on the Texas Rangers versus Tampa Bay series either! In today's quickie Jim Sez column, it's more from the NFL ranks.
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NFL TEAM-BY-TEAM / SUMMERTIME LOOKS
We continue our annual NFL team-by-team summer accounts right here - and every day at Jim Sez we'll be posting two or three teams as we check out news/notes/reports while getting ready for camp. Plus, we get you some key pointspread info to boot and note a team's SU (straight-up) record is listed next to the team name. Today, we focus on the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Arizona Cardinals and the Chicago Bears. Here goes ...
PITTSBURGH (9-6-1) - Sans RB Le'Veon Bell, last year's Steelers ranked next-to-last in the NFL in rushing (90.3 yards per game) and the game plan here for 2019 is for a "shared workload" with RB James Conner (973 yards rushing / 4.5 yards per carry average) getting the most reps but Jaylen Samuels and rookie Bennie Snell (Kentucky) getting a fair share of reps too. Remember Conner suffered a late-season knee injury and may be "babied" a bit this summer.
Pointspread Notes - Last year's 8-7-1 ATS (against the spread) log wasn't half-bad considering the soap opera-like season the Steelers had but did you know that this AFC North crew went 5-0 vig-wise as underdogs and 3-7-1 odds-wise as betting favorites?
ARIZONA (3-13) - The Cardinals sported an ugly - 200 in points differential a year ago (scored 225 points or 14.1 ppg / allowed 425 points or 25.6 ppg per outing) and so right out of the starting gate there's major pressure on rookie head coach Kliff Kingsbury and rookie QB Kyler Murray (Oklahoma) to produce. Murray's being favorably compared to a younger Seattle Seahawks' QB Russell Wilson - says a couple of members of Arizona's offensive line - but a rather mix-and-match blocking wall could mean Murray will take some mean hits in the pocket. Heads up, Mr. Heisman Trophy winner!
Pointspread Notes - The Cardinals are a sorry 9-15 against the odds away these past three seasons but take note that 'Zona is an electric 7-2 vig-wise away versus divisional rivals (and thus 2-13 ATS against non-NFC West clubs away).
CHICAGO (12-5) - On this summer's "to-do list" for these here-and-now Bears is a desire to be more productive in the passing game that ranked just 22nd (234.2 yards per game) in the NFL a year ago. True, third-year QB Mitchell Trubisky is still learning the ropes but his 24 TDs-to-12-INT ratio was solid and he did throw for 3,223 yards in the regular season for a team that lacked what one would call an A+ pass receiver. If Trubisky's personal "to-do list" includes getting sacked less often and spotting his secondary receiver quicker - and then he is successful at that -- than these Bears would have to rank as serious Super Bowl contenders.
Pointspread Notes - Folks are gonna remember how the Bears ended the 2018 season with that missed FG in the 16-15 NFC Wild Card loss to Philadelphia but did you know that Chicago covered nine of its final 11 overall games a year ago? Hey, the last time the Bears (12-5 ATS last year) had been plus-.500 spreadwise was way back in 2010 when this NFC North crew went 10-7-1 against the odds.
NOTE: There's more MLB News / Notes, NBA Free Agency plus NFL Team-by-Team accounts in coming editions of next Jim Sez.