jimmythegreek Posts:10785 Followers:378
On 09/07/2013 09:57 PM in NFL

NFL GREEK INSIDER WEEK 1

New England -10 over Buffalo (bought half):
While it was no secret that during a horrific off-season New England lost some key offensive weapons, most of the Tom Brady faithful are grateful he is healthy enough to start the season opener amid several postseason injury scares. Winners of 9 AFC East tiles over the last 10 seasons, the Patriots open the 2013 season with a divisional matchup against the Buffalo Bills at Orchard Park.

New England finished the 2012 campaign 12-4 but lost in the AFC Championship game to the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens 28-13 fueled by a speedy pass rush that simply didn't give Brady enough time to execute while simultaneously shutting down the running game. Brady may have to depend on a less experienced new look receiving core. Wes Welker is now catching passes in Denver from Peyton Manning, Brandon Lloyd just announced his imminent retirement, and Danny Woodhead is a San Diego Charger. Aaron Hernandez was released following his stunning arrest on a murder charge, and Rob Gronkowski underwent forearm and back surgeries in the offseason that will likely keep him sidelined for the opener. Brady and company have owned the Bills in the past winning 23 of the last 25 regular season appearances.

That's not to say the current roster core couldn't potentially match up with last year's vets. Danny Amendola, who caught 85 passes with St. Louis last season is battling a groin injury but is listed as probable. Julian Edelman who suffered a broken foot last December also hopes to return getting the bulk of the opportunities. Three rookies - free agent Kenbrell Thompkins and draft choices Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce - may also help fill the void at wideout, while free agent rookie Zach Sudfeld and veterans Michael Hoomanawanui and Matthew Mulligan could step in at tight end. While it may seem the lack of reliable options could result in a big drop-off from Brady's averages, the Patriots get a big boost in the running game thanks to Stevan Ridley who ran for over 1,200 yards last season along with 12 TD's.

Unfortunately for Buffalo their secondary was victimized repeatedly against higher ranked passing offenses and their run defense did no better giving up 146 yards per game which ranked next to last in the league. The good news is that their approach in 2013 is focused more towards a hybrid 3-4 look adopted by former Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. However Stephon Gilmore (broken wrist) and most likely two-time Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd (foot) will miss Sunday's opener. The Bills were 6-10 in 2012 but have faith in rookie EJ Manuel although recovering from knee surgery could limit his ability throughout the first few weeks. CJ Spiller who also ran for more than 1,200 yards last season with a 6.0 average, may be asked to keep the offense methodical while becoming a short wideout in setting up screens for Manuel. Buffalo has Stevie Johnson who caught 79 passes during his third straight 1,000-yard season, and second-year player T.J. Graham, along withrookies Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin will only benefit the receiving core.

New England's defense is especially vulnerable giving up the big play where a slower secondary especially towards the corners resulted in multiple big gainers by the opposition. The addition of Aqib Talib from Tampa Bay in November alloed Devin McCourty to move to safety on a more permanent basis. he only real question on this defense is who the second starting safety will be. Although Steve Gregory is listed to start, he was mediocre at best last year. Behind him, Tavon Wilson and Duron Harmon do not seem to be much better options. The second safety position will be interesting to monitor as the season progresses.

This Buffalo team has gotten younger in the offseason and while questions remain about the ability and direction headed by Manuel, the passing game and defense will only get better with experience. Brady will have to control and establish tempo with a new receiving core letting Ridley take advantage along with Shane Vereen who are capable of balancing out the running game. The Patriots still have the edge in personnel and weapons, and while we expect another shootout New England should be able to pull away convincingly in the second half.

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jimmythegreek Posts:10785 Followers:378
09/07/2013 10:48 PM

Washington -4 over Philadelphia (Monday night):
Most breathed a sigh of relief in DC when it was announced in the preseason that Robert Griffin III would indeed start the 2013 season for the Washington Redskins. Head coach Mike Shanahan and Griffin butted heads a bit during training camp, with the quarterback wanting to see more practice time and action in games while the coach used a cautious approach before confirming what fans and players wanted to officially hear.

RG3 won the 2012 Offensive Player of the Year award rushing for over 800 yards and 7 TD along with throwing for 3,200 more yards. His 20 TD and 5 INT made him 3rd among QB's last season with a rating of 102.4. Not too shabby even after a controversial re-injury of his right knee in a playoff loss to Seattle, but Griffin promised to work even harder putting the injury behind him with a goal of returning Washington to the postseason and perhaps further. Apparently the re-construction process along with a vigorous workout regiment all but confirmed his status.

With Pierre Garcon healthy Griffin will have an opportunity to expose opposing secondaries to the point of prolific accuracy that could give the Washington passing game efficiency numbers to surpass from last season. TE Fred Davis, who is coming off achilles surgery. will get his chances as well as will Logan Paulsen who combined for 50 receptions last season. In the running game, Alfred Morris ran for over 1,600 yards and Roy Helu who is more of a north and south shift rusher will be the featured workhorses behind an attack that led the league with more than 2,700 total rushing yards. The addition of Chris Thompson is versatile and extremely explosive with speed and agility which will take some of the pressure of RG3 calling his own number.

All of the above does not bode well for a Philadelphia defense that underwent significant change during the 2013 offseason. All the defensive coaches are new, including coordinator Bill Davis, who came over after two seasons in Cleveland, along with nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga, outside linebacker Connor Barwin, cornerbacks Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher and safety Patrick Chung.

Chip Kelly could have his hands full disciplining the offense which in the post Andy Reid era will meet plenty of challenges after the 4-12 2012 disaster. Michael Vick will take the field as the Eagles starting quarterback. All Eagles fans know the story of how Vick won the job over Nick Foles with an impressive preseason performance, going 28-38 in his passing attempts, good for 383 yards and a 101.1 quarterback rating. Now that the games really matter, it's time for Vick to demonstrate how all of the hard work he put in this offseason will pay off. While it's believed Kelly will high throttle the Eagles offense this season the front seven will do all that they can to create holes for the Eagles most explosive play-maker Lesean McCoy. McCoy who rushed for only 5 TDs last season seems like an ideal fit for Kelly's schemes, as does speedy wideout DeSean Jackson, whose production also took a major dip a year ago.

Meanwhile Washington's defense remains in flux, but an already-strong linebacking corps receives a boost with the return of Brian Orapko, who has 29.5 sacks in 49 career games. Brandon Meriweather played only one game all season because of a series of knee injuries. The pass rush suffered without Orakpo, as linebacker Ryan Kerrigan had too little help. Nick Barnett, a linebacker entering his 11th season, was signed after Robinson’s injury. Kedric Golston and Chris Baker become prominent with Jenkins suspended. Rookie linebacker Brandon Jenkins joins the team’s pass-rushing packages.

We could be in for another high scoring affair, as the key differences from last season could be Washington' s ability to close out contests winning their last 7 while the Eagles dropped 11 of their final 12 games. I'm looking for Griffin to be the more mobile and efficient QB over Michael Vick with play schemes from Shanahan and company being too much for the Eagle defense to contain. The play action passing and versatile options in the ground game should propel Washington to victory.

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jimmythegreek Posts:10785 Followers:378
09/07/2013 11:14 PM

Seattle -3 over Carolina (bought half):
After the Seahawks went 11-5 last season there is plenty of reason and hope to build on 2012's success as they look to win their first road opener in 7 years taking on the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Pete Carroll is optimistic that 2013 will bring similar regular season success and perhaps an opportunity to go deeper in the postseason. The Seahawks have the talent to again seriously contend in the NFC behind running back Marshawn Lynch, versatile quarterback Russell Wilson and a secondary that paced the NFL's top scoring defense (15.3 points per game) in 2012.

Lynch rushed for a career-high 1,590 yards and had 11 touchdowns, while Wilson beat out free-agent signee Matt Flynn for the starting job as a rookie, then threw for 3,118 yards and 26 touchdowns while also running for 489 yards. While the team traded for Percy Harvin seeking to add balance to a predominantly rushing attack 55% of the time, he unfortunately suffered a hip injury that will result in missing the next 6 weeks of the regular season. Lynch, Robert Turbin and rookie Christine Michael are possibly the deepest running back stable in the NFL. Their play should allow Wilson to make plays downfield to weapons like receivers Sidney Rice and Golden Tate, and tight end Zach Miller.

Seattle’s D is led by the “Legion of Boom” arguably the best secondary in the league comprising cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. Second-year pro Bobby Wagner leads a solid linebacker group, while a revamped defensive line will lean on standout Chris Clemons alongside newcomers Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett to rush the opposing quarterback and stuff run lanes.

For Carolina who finished the 2012 campaign a disappointing 7-9, third year head coach Ron Rivera is hoping for a resurgence from 2011 No. 1 pick Cam Newton to develop into a bona fide superstar in his third year in the league. Newton’s been called out for his lack of maturity and leadership, but could quiet the critics with a standout season. While he does have some decent supporting players running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, and ageless wonder Steve Smith at wide receiver there are major questions about receiver depth and the offensive line along with the discipline of Newton's aggressiveness and leadership.

Carolina’s defense relies on the potentially devastating linebacker trio of Thomas Davis, Jon Beason and Luke Kuechly — the 2012 Associate Press Defensive Rookie of the Year. Davis and Beason have both been plagued by injuries, but if they can stay on the field, the unit could be the best in football. Pass-rush specialist Greg Hardy and his 11sacks last season anchors a stout defensive line, which also adds first-round pick Star Lotulelei and second-round pick Kawann Short at defensive tackle. A mostly anonymous secondary could be the defense’s downfall.

Lynch and Turbin could combine for a huge day on the ground this week. Wilson shouldn’t have to to do much in order for the Seahawks offense to run up a large amount of points except for being efficient and turnover free. Cam Newton will have to have a huge game for the Panthers to keep up. It's going to be a challenge against an extremely disciplined and quicker Seattle defense.

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jimmythegreek Posts:10785 Followers:378
09/07/2013 11:29 PM

NYG/Dallas over 50:
The New York Giants (9-7) lost five of its final eight games last year and missed the postseason. The performances were indicative of defensive problems that plagued the team all season, as New York finished 31st in the NFL with 383.4 yards allowed per game. A weakened pass rush was to blame as well as injuries and inefficiency in the secondary.

The Giants’ offensive line is something of a work-in-progress, too, with third-year center Jim Cordle and rookie right tackle Justin Pugh likely making their first NFL regular-season starts on Sunday night. The Cowboys’ defensive line could be without defensive end Anthony Spencer (knee), but Dallas still has elite edge rusher DeMarcus Ware (three sacks vs. Giants a season ago). The Giants’ passing game wasn’t especially productive in the two matchups with Dallas in 2012, with Eli Manning throwing just one touchdown neither of which went to Victor Cruz or Hakeem Nicks. Cruz (heel) was limited in practice on Wednesday, but he appears on track for Week 1. However with Cruz, Nicks, third receiver Rueben Randle and running back David Wilson, the Giants have the skill-position talent to trade punches in a high-scoring game. New York also faces a Dallas defense that’s getting its first major test after switching from Rob Ryan’s 3-4 scheme to Monte Kiffin’s 4-3 front.

The Cowboys’ potent offense would seem to pose real problems for the Giants, who struggled on defense in 2012 and enter this game with some injury concerns. Playmaking safety Stevie Brown (knee) is out for the season, a blow to a secondary that was vulnerable a season ago. Also, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is dealing with a back injury. That said, the Cowboys’ offensive line faces a challenge from the Giants’ defensive line, particularly if Pierre-Paul can play. Beyond two surefire starters left tackle Tyron Smith and center Travis Frederick – there are questions concerning the Dallas o-line because of injuries at guard. The club signed ex-Patriots guard Brian Waters this week to bolster their options along their interior line.

The Giants’ pass rush could be key to their chances against Dallas. The Cowboys have a strong, versatile passing attack. Wide receiver Dez Bryant played at a Pro Bowl level in the second half of the 2012 season. Tight end Jason Witten is a wonderful short-area target; he caught a franchise-record 18 passes in the last meeting with the Giants in October. Wideout Miles Austin is skilled, too. If quarterback Tony Romo consistently gets the time he needs to read the coverage, the Giants could be in trouble.

When these two teams meet the excitement on both sides of the ball is electrifying given the fact that short efficient drives could come as frequent as key turnovers leading to short fields from 2 explosive QB's to take advantage. We expect both of these teams to give us a toe to toe standardized matchup with the feel for more of a December late postseason game. Although it''s only week 1 with both of these teams not facing each other until late November, the NFC East could very well be at stake based on this head to head series. Look for the scoreboard to fly early and often with the team possessing the ball last to emerge victorious with the final tally well into the 30's for both.

Best of luck to all in week 1!

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