MNF Preview and AAC and MWC College Previews
Mercifully, we're now halfway through this 2019 NFL Preseason - note that Week 2 wraps up tonight with the San Francisco 49ers at the Denver Broncos - 'cause we're itching for the start of this 100th Anniversary Season of the National Football League ... Let's get to September 5th already (season-opening game between Green Bay at Chicago)!
Tonight, it's ... SAN FRANCISCO (1-0) at DENVER (1-1) - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
The price has come way down here as the host Broncos opened as 2.5-point favorites (and it went up to 3) before crashing down to read Denver minus a point: Could be that San Francisco slinger Jimmy Garoppolo will play a few series here - note that Niner backup QBs Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard combined to complete 24-of-34 passes for 246 yards in last week's 17-9 win / cover against 3.5-point pup Dallas.
On the flip side, this is the Broncos' third preseason game - beat Atlanta 14-10 in the Hall of Fame Game back on August 1st and last weekend lost 22-14 at 2.5-point home dog Seattle - and one item to watch here is how long will first-year head coach Vic Fangio stay with QB Joe Flacco - remember that Missouri draftee QB Drew Lock threw for 180 yards with one TD and one INT versus the Seahawks.
In other NFL Preseason Week 2 News / Notes ...
We'll head into this evening's aforementioned 49ers vs. Broncos tilt with NFL Betting Favorites a wobbly 4-9-1 ATS (against the spread) so far this week and that makes the chalk sides just 13-15-3 spreadwise with one Pick 'Em affair (see our Jim Hurley Network big-time winner last Friday night with Buffalo blasting Carolina 27-14) so far through nearly the first two full weeks of preseason play. Note to totals players: The "Overs" are 14-15-3 against the odds this preseason as "over" plays are 6-9 ATS in Preseason Week 2 heading into tonight's game in the Mile High City ...
Here's the NFL teams that are 2-0 spreadwise thus far in this here-and-now preseason: Baltimore, Buffalo, Cleveland, Miami, Minnesota, New England, New York Giants and Oakland while Houston is 1-0-1 spreadwise ...
Minnesota's 25-19 win /cover on Sunday night against 3.5-point underdog Seattle featured more injury news to a Seahawks' backup quarterback: Paxton Lynch (6-of-15 passing for 67 yards) was KO'ed late by a helmet-to-helmet hit that put 'em right into concussion protocol and remember last weekend it was veteran journeyman QB Geno Smith who underwent a minor knee procedure, so he missed the Sunday Night game in Minnesota. In case you're wondering, that means - for now - former Ohio State star J.T. Barrett is the top backup for veteran Russell Wilson ...
Finally, as long as we're talkin' quarterbacks, here's our take on a few teams and their slingers:
The New York Giants will go to bat with 16-year-pro Eli Manning - and not first-round draft pick Daniel Jones (Duke) come the season-opening game in Dallas on Sept. 8th. Best guess is that Jones won't see the field for any significant action until and unless the Giants are "out of it" - a 2-6 type start would likely doom Manning;
Just can't see how the Arizona Cardinals will begin the year with top draftee QB Kyler Murray (see 3-of-8 for 12 yards passing in four series against Oakland in 33-26 loss last Thursday night) getting the starting nod. Unless Murray wows new coach Kliff Kingsbury in Minny this Saturday, we say it's Brett Hundley #1 on the team's depth chart;
And expect Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck - not expected to play at all this preseason - to start at the Los Angeles Chargers in the regular-season opener. You likely saw the video of Luck moving around pretty well in warm-ups prior to the Colts' 21-18 home loss to Cleveland last Saturday.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL CONFERENCE REPORTS - THE AMERICAN / THE MOUNTAIN WEST
THE AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE (AAC)
THE CONTENDERS - UCF is 25-1 SU (straight-up) the past two years but the Knights could feel some pushback from both Houston and Memphis this year. Let's say this: If UCF goes undefeated this year and there's a couple of one-loss teams high on the board among power conference squads then we want to - finally - see UCF in the playoffs.
THE DARK HORSE - Cincinnati. Last year the Bearcats won 11 games including a Military Bowl triumph over Virginia Tech. Dual-threat QB Desmond Ridder could have Cincy riding high again.
BEST PLAYER - D'Eriq King, QB, Houston. The Cougars' slinger threw 36 TDs last year and that figures to increase with Dana Holgorsen as the new head coach.
CIRCLE THE DATE - Nov. 16, Memphis at Houston. Winner should snag the AAC's West Division and a shot at UCF in conference title tilt.
THE MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE (MWC)
THE CONTENDERS - It's a "state affair" as Boise State, Utah State, Fresno State and San Diego State all have legit shots to win the MWC but note it's been five years since the champion of this league played in a significant bowl game (see Boise State vs. Arizona in 2014 Fiesta Bowl).
THE DARK HORSE - Could it be that the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors are ready to make a real leap after winning more games last year (eight) than since the 2010 campaign?
BEST PLAYER - Mykal Walker, DE/OLB, Fresno State. This senior stud collected 14 tackles for losses and 4.5 sacks a year ago.
CIRCLE THE DATE - Nov. 16, Fresno State at San Diego State. The F-State Bulldogs have won the last two games in this rivalry.