View from Vegas
Week 2 of the NFL was a tough one for the players as the Nevada sports books had everything fall perfectly for them. The books had the perfect mix of upsets in games that negated any outstanding parlay risk liability from the small money as well as beating the sharp plays. Players weren’t able to get any momentum throughout the day as popular teams like the Eagles got back-doored late and the Patriots got beat straight up.
Other games that helped the books were the Vikings losing to Miami, the Steelers winning at Tennessee and the Bears beating the Cowboys. All three of those games were large home favorites which are always popular. In each of those instances, they played a major a role in eliminating parlays throughout the day.
The sharp bettors didn’t fare much better as they lost with the Eagles, Ravens, Cardinals and Jaguars. The books could have made it a clean sweep if not getting sided in the Redskins game. The Texans had bounced around from 2½ to 3-point favorites all week and a late 17 point comeback by the Texans forced overtime where they eventually won by three.
Usually the Sunday night game is a powder keg of cumulative risk throughout the day where the favored side and over the total is always a bad combination. While the Colts 38-14 win was one of the only losses on the day for books, it was a lower than most weeks just because of risk being limited throughout the day games.
Overall, the favorites went 6-9 Sunday with seven of the underdogs winning outright on the money line. The biggest favorite of the day, Green Bay -13 got there while the two biggest moves didn’t. The Bengals opened as a pick ’em at home and the line shot up to Ravens -3 by kickoff. The Jets were a tentative 1-point favorite prior to their Monday night loss to Baltimore and by game time the line had the Patriots -3. In both of those instances, there was a major over-reaction to what had happened in their games the week before.
Back to the Drawing Board
Two teams that faced each other in the playoffs last season now find themselves 0-2 to start the season after getting upset at home last week. The Cowboys and Vikings were large favorites and each lost quite convincingly. The Bears had been bet by some sharp play early in the week pushing the opener from Cowboys -9 to -7 by game time. The Vikings were bet down to -5½ by game time and lost 14-10 to the Dolphins. In both cases, turnovers were the keys with Brett Favre throwing three key picks and fumbling once.
As for the Bears, we bang on Jay Cutler so much for his interceptions but rarely give credit when he plays well. On Sunday, Cutler was fantastic with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He played one of his best games ever with mixes of short quick passes and long bombs that kept the Dallas defense off balance all day. After going 0-4 in pre-season with everyone, including me, saying the Mike Martz-Cutler relationship was in trouble, the Bears now find themselves 2-0 atop the NFC North.
After an unsuccessful three quarters against the Steelers, starting quarterback Vince Young was yanked in favor of veteran back-up Kerry Collins. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out with Young’s fragile psyche as the year goes on for the Titans. Confidence is a huge part of his game and if the coach isn’t showing him any, we could see more games like we saw Sunday. In all fairness to Young, the Steelers are playing some of the best defense in football right now.
Titans running-back Chris Johnson had his streak of 11 straight games with 100 yards rushing snapped by Pittsburgh. Along with losing the game and the streak, Johnson also lost his chance of hitting his lofty goal of 2,500 yards rushing.
He Just Might be Best
Jahvid Best broke loose for a big first half against the Eagles with scores of 14 and 75 yards. Despite losing to the Eagles, Best put in a pretty productive day with 78 yards rushing and catching nine passes for 154 yards. Best scored three touchdowns in the game giving him five for the season making him only the fourth player since 1960 to score two TD’s or more in their first two games.
So, do we have a QB controversy in Philly? Not according to head coach Andy Reid who announced before their game that Kevin Kolb will start in week 3. Reid may have been just looking for a way to end all the questions from reporters by throwing it out there early, but how can he sit Vick with the way he’s playing in favor of Kolb? Philly fans want Vick in there as well and it will be the talk of the week on sports radio. Vick also doesn’t help ease the matter with own comments either, saying if he would have played the entire first game against Green Bay that he would have won that game too.
The Titans using Kerry Collins with Young not being successful won’t be an issue this week, but in Oakland, coach Tom Cable will have a tough decision to make. With Jason Campbell only able to put three points on the board in the first half, Cable made a move cheered on by the Oakland fans and brought in Bruce Gradkowski to start the second half. It paid off as Gradkowski had three scoring drives leading the Raiders to a 16-14 win over the Rams.
Other NFL Notes
In Sunday’s Texans-Redskins overtime shootout, both quarterbacks threw for over 400 yards for only the sixth time in NFL history. 1994 was the last time it happened with Dan Marino and Drew Bledsoe airing it out. Matt Schaub came three yards short of making it the only time in NFL history there has been a 500 and 400 yard passer in the same game.
Chargers rookie tailback Ryan Mathews hurt his right ankle and was carted off the field in the second quarter of San Diego’s 38-13 win over Jacksonville. Mathews came back onto the field in the third quarter and said he could play, but he was told they didn’t want to risk him. It’s quite possible that the team simply didn’t want to risk Mathews turning the ball over again. In the first two starts of his career Mathews has had a fumble in each.
There are three games with double digit spreads and seven home dogs. The Buffalo Bills have signs of being the worst team in the league and have a hard time trying to make a case for them at New England. I’ll be looking to take the Broncos and the points at home against the Colts along with the Bears getting points at home on Monday night against the Packers.