Monday Night Previews and NFL and College Notes
Monday Night Football Previews
PITTSBURGH at WASHINGTON - 7:10 p.m. ET, ESPN
If you checked out all those summertime previews then you know the Steelers were a favorite pick to win Super Bowl LI this February - note the oddsmakers have Pittsburgh at 10-to-1 to win it all this season - but Mike Tomlin's crew will be missing some key ingredients here including do-it-all RB Le'Veon Bell (three-game suspension) and WR Martavis Bryant (one-year suspension) and remember that new 'Skins CB Josh Norman will get the assignment of shadowing WR Antonio Brown (see 265 receptions over the span of the past two years) .
Hey, if you read our Sunday Night Preview at this Jim Sez site than you know we said the winner of the battle between Arizona WR Michael Floyd and New England CB Malcolm Butler probably wins that game ... and we were correct there, eh? Same deal here!
Spread Notes - Pittsburgh's 1-6-1 ATS (against the spread) in its road-opening games the past eight years while Washington is 19-33 versus the vig in non-NFC East games since the start of the 2011 campaign.
LOS ANGELES RAMS at SAN FRANCISCO - 10:20 p.m. ET, ESPN
Still wondering why the league didn't have the Rams hosting a Week 1 MNF game here considering all the lights/cameras/action stuff after the franchise moved back to SoCal after 21 years "renting" in St. Louis, but that's for smarter minds to ponder. The real storyline here is who wins the battle of journeyman slingers as LA's Case Keenum easily beat out hot-shot #1 pick QB Jared Goff for the top spot while it's Blaine Gabbert getting the starting nod for the 49ers against anthem-sitter/kneeler Colin Kaepernick and there's a good chance that Jim Hurley's gonna have the winning Side & Totals play for this west coast tilt.
If you're looking for an X-factor, then check out the Rams' always-inventive special teams that could get a boost if it allows Tavon Austin to return some kick and/or punts. P.S., nobody asked but we believe the Rams have the best D-line in the league with DT Aaron Donald quite capable of making dominant plays at crunch time.
Spread Notes - San Francisco is 2-7-1 ATS in NFC West games the past two seasons while the LA Rams are 8-15-1 spreadwise away the past three years.
In other NFL Week 1 News/Notes ...
Everyone's tossing bouquets in the general direction of Oakland Raiders' head coach Jack Del Rio for his "gutsy call" to go for two points in that thrilling 35-34 win at 3-point fav New Orleans but don't 'ya think Del Rio was scared silly to go into OT with his shredded defense having to face Saints' slinger Drew Brees (423 yards passing with 4 TDs) one mo' time? ...
Meanwhile, the kicking game was huge throughout other NFL Week 1 games with normally-reliable New York Jets PK Nick Folk missing a PAT and having a gimme field goal blocked in that 23-22 pick 'em game home loss versus Cincinnati and what about New England PK Stephen Gostkowski booting three FGs including 47- and 53-yarders while opposite number Chandler Catanzaro misfiring on that 47-yarder with just 41 seconds left in NE's hang-on-for-dear-life 23-21 win at the 8-point favored Cardinals?
COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEKEND NOTES
Is it possible that you can play your way out of the College Football Playoff picture by winning and yet "not taking care of your business" as ESPN studio analyst Danny Kanell called it the other day?
The always-opinionated Kanell was talkin' about both Clemson and Georgia, a pair of teams that were favored by 35- and 55-point price tags this past weekend ... Clemson beat Troy 30-24; Georgia slipped past somebody named Nicholls State 26-24.
Georgia dropped from #9 to #16 in the latest Associated Press poll while Clemson plummeted from #2 to #5.
Meanwhile, the "experts" out there believe we could have a two-loss team (or even a couple of two-loss teams) in the four-team playoff field in late December but we're holding a contrarian view at this early stage of the 2016 campaign and believe that maybe we'll get only one or maybe two one-loss teams to go along with a couple of undefeateds, but if Clemson and Georgia are gonna continue to stagger than maybe it's a message to all parties that maybe indeed a one-loss team could pass an unimpressive unbeaten team when the dust settles on this season.
No doubt we already have an eye ahead on this upcoming College Football menu that features a #3 Ohio State squad at #14 Oklahoma this Saturday night but maybe we all should sit up and notice a couple of born-again teams on the horizon:
Army is 2-0 SU (straight-up) for the first time since - get this - the 1996 season and there's folks believing that this is the year "Beat Navy" becomes more than just a slogan;
And don't sleep on East Carolina (2-0) which sports a sporty new head coach in former Duke assistant Scottie Montgomery - was he fired up or what following Saturday's 33-30 win against 6-point road favorite N.C. State?
Note that Army and East Carolina are a combined 4-0 spreadwise thus far - might we be considering 'em this weekend when the West Pointers are at UTEP while the ECU Pirates are grabbing a fistful of points at South Carolina?
Get back with us for all the College Winners this week with Thursday/Friday/Saturday action!