[B][I]Chiefs look to upset Pats
September 5, 2017[/I][/B]
After the New England Patriots rocked the greatest Super Bowl comeback in history, the oddsmakers were quick to make them the prohibitive favorites to win this coming season as well. BetOnline.ag currently has them as a substantially +360 favorite to win because…well…they’re the Patriots.
The biggest move by New England was acquiring Brandin Cooks from New Orleans because it had a similar feeling to when Belichik went out and grabbed Randy Moss. We all know that Tom Brady is the best in the game, but when you surround him with top shelf talent, you get record-breaking seasons.
The trio of Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Brandin Cooks was supposed to turn this offence in to one of the best all-time. But Edelman’s injury is a significant one. Brady still has plenty of weapons, and Chris Hogan is the obvious go-to for a replacement in the lineup, but there are now questions where there weren’t before.
Brady had a seven-game stretch where he was without Edelman in 2015 and his numbers went down significantly. Most notably his passing percentage went down from 67.8 to 59.4 percent, and the team went 9-0 SU when Edelman was healthy and 4-3 SU when he wasn’t.
Of course, a lot of that has to do with the fact that it was a mid-season injury. Brady and company have had plenty of time to re-tool things and grease the wheels. But it’s pretty fitting that the Chiefs are sitting right in front of them, ready to test that passing game that a lot of people in the BetOnline.ag sportsbook are banking on.
[B][I]Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots
Thursday, September 7th – Gillette Stadium – 8:30pm EST
NFL Week 1 – New England -8.5 (48.0)[/I][/B]
Kansas City has always been a complete outlier in terms of betting, and the crazy part about this that they’re one of the most reliable entities out there. Kansas City went 12-4 SU and 9-7 ATS in 2016, just after going 11-5 SU and 8-8 ATS the eyar prior. Most handicappers grade them as a “hot momentum” play because of the way they’re built.
The Chiefs built a 6-2 ATS record in the second half last season. They’ also hit a 6-1 ATS streak between Weeks 7-15 in 2015 that a lot of smart players streamed on before the oddsmakers caught up. Why don’t more people get in on the Chiefs when the iron is hot? Because they really lack sex appeal. Betting on the combination of Alex Smith and Andy Reid is about as flat as you get in terms of excitement, regardless of how effective they are as a pairing.
The history of these teams is pretty intertwined. The Chiefs rocked New England two years ago on an embarrassing Monday Night game in 2014 that saw them win in a 41-14 landslide. The Patriots got their revenge the following season, by ousting Kansas City in the playoffs 27-20. The point is that in recent years, the Chiefs have given the Patriots a lot of difficulty. Overall, Kansas City is 2-3 SU and 3-2 ATS dating back to their five games since 2005.
If I was going to go bonkers on any year with the Chiefs, it would’ve been this year, but that was prior to the unfortunate timing with the Spencer Ware injury. He’s a huge loss and I’m not sure if rookie Kareem Hunt can really step in and be the steady producer that Ware was proven to be. Ware was a great compliment to what Alex Smith does, and it’s impossible to predict whether Hunt has that same explosiveness.
A lot of this conjecture is meant more so for the NFL futures market and whether you think Kansas City and New England are the top of the heap. I’d say that they are but we won’t find out until later in the year.
For the purpose of betting on the only Thursday games that turn out to be entertaining (outside of Thanksgiving), I thin that the way the line is trending at BetOnline.ag is worth following. The way that Kansas City’s offence is designed is to grind and sometimes they can just roll over opponents who can’t last the full sixty minutes. New England is not one of those teams. This game will get away from Kansas City before we all realize that the Edelman loss won’t slow down New England as much as some people fear.
Either way, it’s just great to have football back with a tantalizing matchup to get our appetite’s satisfied. The wait has been too long and it’s finally over. The Patriots as -8.5 favorites in the season opener is too tempting to resist.
[SIZE=4][COLOR=”#A52A2A”][B]Armadillo: Random NFL thoughts with the season starting Thursday…….[/B][/COLOR][/SIZE]
13) Dallas only has one divisional game during Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension, Week 1 against the Giants. How different will the Cowboys’ offense be without Elliott?
Giants lost three of their last four visits to Dallas.
12) How is Cam Newton’s shoulder? He didn’t play in preseason; Panthers obviously need him. Their records the last four years:
11) How bad are the Jets going to be? If they can keep 37-year old QB Josh McCown healthy, he’ll keep their offense respectable, but if he goes down, their QB situation becomes a dumpster fire. They better hope USC QB Sam Darnold has a big year— he figures to be the first QB taken in the draft next April.
Jets swept Buffalo last year but lost four of last five visits to western New York.
10) Denver’s QB’s are Siemian-Lynch-Osweiler; they’ve got a new coach, new coordinators. Broncos are 59-21 the last five years; they making the playoffs this year?
Denver won six of its last seven games with San Diego, with all six wins by 7+ points (5-2 vs spread).
9) Jacoby Brissett started one game last year; the Patriots lost 16-0 to Buffalo. Despite that, the Colts traded for Brissett over the weekend, giving up a WR who was a first round pick in 2015. Unless they have real doubts about Andrew Luck’s health, this is a weird, weird move.
8) Why is Marty Mornhinweg an offensive coordinator in the NFL? Baltimore couldn’t come up with a better OC than him? For instance, Mike Martz doesn’t have a job.
With Joe Flacco hurting, look at their backup QB— Ryan Mallett. Two years ago, when Mallett didn’t win the starter’s job in Houston, he called in sick the next day. He called in sick!!! Not exactly the kind of guy you might need to lead the franchise.
Bengals won five of last six games with Baltimore; underdogs covered five of those six games.
7) Will the Saints run the ball more now that they have Adrian Peterson?
New Orleans won its last four games with Minnesota; their last loss to Minnesota was in 2008.
6) Home teams won last five Green Bay-Seattle games; last three were all decided by 10+ points. Packers were +6 in turnovers in last year’s 38-10 win over Seattle.
5) John Fox is on the hot seat in Chicago, with a high draft pick at QB waiting to take the place of a journeyman QB (Mike Glennon), much like the Rams’ situation last year. It didn’t end well for the Rams’ coach last year; can Fox win enough games this year to keep his job?
4) Tennessee Titans have high expectations for the first time in a while; can Marcus Mariota lead them to the playoffs? Last time the Titans were in the playoffs was 2008; last time they won a playoff game was 2003.
Favorites covered nine of last 10 Raider-Titan games; Oakland beat the Titans in Nashville 17-10/24-21 the last two seasons.
3) Eagles play four of their first six games on the road, then go 38 days before their next road game. Carson Wentz got high grades for his rookie season. Philly hasn’t won a playoff game since 2008. NFC East is looking tough this season.
Redskins won their last four games with Philly, holding Eagles to 75 rushing yards/game in last five meetings. Iggles lost their last three visits to Landover, MD
2) Cleveland is starting rookie DeShone Kizer at QB; his college coach Brian Kelly said last winter that Kizer wasn’t ready for the NFL, so we’ll find out about pretty quickly. Expectations couldn’t be any lower for the Browns, who cut CB Joe Haden last week, only to have Pittsburgh sign him for $27M about five minutes later.
Browns have actually won twice in their last five home games with Pittsburgh, but they’re 1-17 in season openers.
1) Atlanta Falcons were 0-4 in preseason, which means almost nothing, but then you realize they have two new coordinators and are coming off that Super Bowl. Teams that lose the Super Bowl generally have a hangover the next season. Tough job for Dan Quinn this season.
Last 14 years, the Super Bowl loser is 5-9 in its first game the next year (2-12 vs spread).
[SIZE=4][COLOR=”#A52A2A”][B]32 need-to-know betting notes for 32 NFL teams in 2017[/B][/COLOR][/SIZE]
NFL football is finally back as another preseason comes to a close. It’s been seven months since the Patriots hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy in the greatest Super Bowl comeback ever, so what does this season have in store? To get you prepped for Week 1 of the 2017-18 season, we bring you one betting stat that you need-to-know for each and every team heading into this year.
Baltimore Ravens (2016: 8-8 SU, 7-9 ATS, 7-8-1 O/U)[/B]
Baltimore’s secondary figures to improve with the additions of Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson. The two of them join Jimmy Smith and Eric Weddle who made impacts last year. The Ravens also are a great bet to win close games with arguably the best kicker in football in Justin Tucker. He missed just one field goal last year and that was blocked.
[B]Cincinnati Bengals (2016: 6-9-1 SU, 7-9 ATS, 6-10 O/U)[/B]
Andy Dalton puts up good numbers at quarterback against weak teams, but he has struggled in big games. Vontaze Burfict is already suspended and Adam Jones and is one just waiting to happen. The Bengals have a stretch of four road games in five weeks after an early bye.
[B]Cleveland Browns (2016: 1-15 SU, 3-12-1 ATS, 8-8 O/U)[/B]
When your quarterback race was between Brock Osweiler (cut), DeShone Kizer (rookie) and Cody Kessler (meh), you aren’t going to win too many games. Kenny Britt is the veteran presence at wide receiver, but he will likely see a lot of double teams considering the lack of other weapons. Cleveland closes the season with four road games over the last six weeks.
[B]Pittsburgh Steelers (2016: 11-5 SU, 9-6-1 ATS, 6-10 O/U)[/B]
Injuries could derail this veteran team rather quickly. Ben Roethlisberger has missed chunks of games during the past two seasons and Le’Veon Bell wasn’t at training camp, which could lead to a sluggish start. James Harrison is 39-years-old and despite his freakish strength and football IQ, he has definitely lost a step.
Buffalo Bills (2016: 7-9 SU, 6-10 ATS, 12-4 O/U)[/B]
Playing New England twice does not help things. But playing the Jets twice does and now that the Dolphins have lost Ryan Tannehill, the Bills caught a break even though the two meetings are in Weeks 15 and 17. The rest of the schedule is not easy however. In additional to having to play the AFC West and NFC South, the other two games are against the Bengals and Colts which were challenging a couple years ago but winnable now.
[B]Miami Dolphins (2016: 10-6 SU, 9-7 ATS, 12-4 O/U)[/B]
Miami was a playoff team last season despite the fact Ryan Tannehill missed the last three games and it is expected to make another run this season. The loss of Tannehill for the year is tough and while the addition of Jay Cutler may not be an upgrade, it is not a downgrade either as he knows the system and should slide right in. He has plenty of playmakers around him. Overall, the Dolphins increased their talent on defense which was a weakness last season and improvements on that side of the ball can make them dangerous.
[B]New England Patriots (2016: 14-2 SU, 13-3 ATS, 6-10 O/U)[/B]
As is the case every year, the Patriots have a bulls-eye on their backs and they never face an opponent that is not sky high to face them. One major factor is that New England will be overvalued in a lot of games this season based on expectations and the success it had last season. The schedule outside of the division is not easy as the Patriots face Kansas City, New Orleans, Houston, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Denver, Oakland and Pittsburgh, all of which are playoff contenders. That is not a very easy section of games.
[B]New York Jets (2016: 5-11 SU, 6-10 ATS, 7-8-1 O/U)[/B]
The Jets will see plenty of value this upcoming season as no one will want to touch them, so their spreads are going to be enormous. The problem here is where is the quality of football going to come from? They have no proven quarterback, the receiving corps is one of the worst ever in the NFL, Matt Forte is old, the offensive line is raw and the defense is starting from scratch. There was a lack of discipline last year and that was with numerous veterans on the team, so that discipline could be dangerous again and cost head coach Todd Bowles his job.
Houston Texans (2016: 9-7 SU, 6-9-1 ATS, 6-10 O/U)[/B]
Houston was outscored by 49 points last season, which is more indicative of a six or seven win team. The only AFC teams with worse point differentials last year were Cleveland, Jacksonville and the Jets. After beating the Bears 23-14 in Week 1 last year, the Texans never again won a game by more than a touchdown. In fact, over their final 14 reg season contests, they got outscored by 66 points. When, or if, Watson will be the starting QB is a mystery with the underwhelming Tom Savage to begin the year under center. How much can Watt really improve the defensive performance from last year. By virtue of winning the division last year, they are the only AFC South team that must play the Patriots, Steelers and Chiefs this year.
[B]Indianapolis Colts (2016: 8-8 SU, 7-8-1 ATS, 9-7 O/U)[/B]
Andrew Luck is at least expected to miss Week 1 and if he misses anymore time, this team is dead (even in a weak division). Luck isn’t the only key player banged up either. Center Ryan Kelly missed time this preseason and it seems as if the entire receiving corps is banged up as well. This team is now “paying up” for overachieving in Luck’s first several seasons. Head coach Chuck Pagano seems like a lame duck and the defense just isn’t any good. If anything, look to bet the Over week-to-week with this team.
[B]Jacksonville Jaguars (2016: 3-13 SU, 8-8 ATS, 10-6 SU)[/B]
Oddsmakers expect the AFC South is to be a three-horse race in 2017. But the Texans, Colts and Titans don’t seem to be substantially better than the Jaguars, so there is some value here. Bettors are expecting improvement with the season win total of 6.5 heavily juiced to the Over. They had a Pythagorean Win expectation of 5.8 last year, so the win-loss record was a tad bit misleading even if the team was favored in only three games. This year, they’re projected to be favored in four and should pull some upsets. Gus Bradley left behind a rapidly improving defense and top draft choice Leonard Fournette could be a difference maker on offense.
[B]Tennessee Titans (2016: 9-7 SU, 7-9 SU, 10-6 O/U)[/B]
Just because the Titans may be better this year doesn’t necessarily mean they will win more games. The jump that took place last year (from three wins in 2015 to nine in 2016) typically necessitates some sort of “leveling off” in year three. I’m a tad bit worried about the hype surrounding a team that won a total of five games in 2014-15. This is a division full of uninspiring head coaches and Mike Mularkey is definitely one of them. The defense was not great last year.
Denver Broncos (2016: 9-7 SU, 9-7 ATS, 7-9 O/U)[/B]
Denver has several question marks. First, of course, is the quarterback position. The uninspiring Trevor Siemian was named the starter, second-year signal caller Paxton Lynch is injured and now Brock Osweiler makes his return to Denver. None of these pivots rates above league average. Second, Denver’s offensive line had major problems last season. Last season’s zone-heavy scheme is being scrapped by new coach Jeff Davidson, who favors a gap approach. But it’s unclear whether this season’s offensive line will be any better than last year’s. If not, then Denver’s quarterbacks will once again face heavy pressure and be vulnerable to sacks (40 last year). Finally, Denver’s schedule is the league’s most difficult, based on its opponents’ records last season.
[B]Kansas City Chiefs (2016: 12-4 SU, 9-6-1 ATS, 6-10 O/U)[/B]
Should starter Alex Smith sustain an injury, rookie Patrick Mahomes would be thrown in the fire (despite looking good this preseason). The running back position is also a concern. Jamaal Charles is gone, so the Chiefs will rely on rookie Kareem Hunt and Charcandrick West. Neither had a play from scrimmage greater than 46 yards last season. Like all the teams in the AFC West, Kansas City’s schedule is brutal this season and ranks as the league’s second most difficult behind Denver’s. Finally, the Chiefs benefited greatly from turnovers last season, as they led the league with 33. But turnovers are somewhat random, so it will be hard for the Chiefs to match that performance this season.
[B]Los Angeles Chargers (2016: 5-11 SU, 7-9 ATS, 9-6-1 O/U)[/B]
Last year, the Chargers’ season took a huge hit early, when wide receiver Keenan Allen was injured in Game 1, but he is healthy now and will have help in the form of rookie WR Mike Williams (if he can stay healthy), who was drafted No. 7 overall. Those two, plus tight ends Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry, will give quarterback Philip Rivers some terrific targets. Moreover, the Chargers have a great weapon at running back in Melvin Gordon. The second-year pro rushed for 997 yards last season and will be featured in Anthony Lynn’s “ground-and-pound” approach. Also, while other teams have to worry about losing their quarterback to injury, that’s toward the bottom of the Chargers’ concerns, as Rivers has started 176 consecutive games.
[B]Oakland Raiders (2016: 12-4 SU, 10-6 ATS, 11-5 O/U)[/B]
Oakland has made major strides over the past three seasons, going from 3-13 in 2014 to 7-9 in 2015 and then to 12-4 last season. Oakland will be saddled with a very difficult schedule this year (the fourth hardest in the NFL), which includes a “home” game in Mexico City versus New England. There’s also a big concern at the running back position. General manager Reggie McKenzie traded for Marshawn Lynch, who has come out of retirement to play for his hometown team. But Lynch is now 31 years old and only gained 417 yards in seven games two seasons ago. Last season, the Raiders were tied with the Chiefs for the league’s best turnover differential (+16), but that is a statistic which can greatly change from year-to-year, so the Raiders’ success will be adversely affected if they don’t reach the same heights again.
Chicago Bears (2016: 3-13 SU, 7-9 ATS, 8-8 O/U)[/B]
Jordan Howard accounted for over 1,600 yards in 2016 and that was with a lot of uncertainty around him on offense. Cam Meredith showed flashes of brilliance at wide receiver with almost 900 yards receiving and four touchdowns. Mitchell Trubisky will be a solid option at quarterback when he eventually takes over. The team spent a lot of money this offseason to upgrade the defense.
[B]Detroit Lions (2016: 9-7 SU, 8-8 ATS, 6-10 O/U)[/B]
The defensive line has taken a few injuries already this offseason including Kerry Hyder who had eight sacks in 2016. Ameer Abdullah is supposed to be the feature back, but the team needs to get more from the run to keep defenses honest. Abdullah has missed time in the past, so it could be a concern that he won’t be able to stand up to a regular workload. The road slate is rough with trips to New Orleans, New York, Baltimore and Tampa Bay.
[B]Green Bay Packers (2016: 10-6 SU, 9-6-1 ATS, 10-6 O/U)[/B]
The run game still needs a lot of work with Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams vying for carries. Montgomery is a converted wide reciever while Williams is a rookie. The team is relying on a lot of young players on defense especially if they start Kevin King at corner right out of college. Three of their final four games are on the road.
[B]Minnesota Vikings (2016: 8-8 SU, 9-7 ATS, 7-9 O/U)[/B]
The loss of Adrian Peterson was mitigated by the additions of Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray. Cook is going to add some speed to the backfield and provide another option in the passing game. Sam Bradford will actually get a whole offseason with the team as opposed to last year when he came over just before the regular season began. The defense is littered with young talent including Xavier Rhodes and Linval Joseph.
Dallas Cowboys (2016: 13-3 SU, 10-6 ATS, 6-10 O/U)[/B]
For a team that goes 13-3, regression is always possible and Dallas will not be sneaking up on anyone this season. The core group of the Cowboys is back but they did lose 10 players that accounted for over 500 games so depth could be an issue. Four of those losses came in the secondary as all four starters are gone and in a pass-heavy league, that is not a good thing. Teams will be better prepared for Prescott with a full year of film to look at. The division has gotten stronger and going 10-0 outside the division is not going to happen again. Oh, and that six game suspension for Ezekiel Elliott is going to hurt.
[B]New York Giants (2016: 11-5 SU, 9-6-1 ATS, 4-12 O/U)[/B]
The Giants finished 11-5 last season and made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2011, so they can build on that heading into this year. The offense upgraded with the signing of wide receiver Brandon Marshall and drafting of tight end Evan Engram. The defense upgraded last season and it showed as New York went from dead last in total defense in 2015 to No. 10 last season while allowing the second fewest amount of points. The Giants only lost one of those starters so they could be even better this year. A pretty weak schedule should help them get back to the postseason.
[B]Philadelphia Eagles (2016: 7-9 SU, 8-8 ATS, 9-7 O/U)[/B]
With the division better overall, it will be hard for the Eagles to improve on their seven wins from last season considering they started 0-4 in the division and winning the last two games when they meant nothing in Week 16 and Week 17. The schedule is tame but the opening stretch is a challenge with four of their first six games on the road and the two home games coming against the Giants and Cardinals. Philadelphia did not lose much in any big areas but did not add enough to gain significant progress either.
[B]Washington (2016: 8-7-1 SU, 10-6 ATS, 12-4 O/U)[/B]
The defense was awful in 2016, allowing 377.9 yards per game which was No. 28 in the league. A new coordinator and scheme can help but it might take time to come together and in a division which should be tight, the progress cannot take too long. While the signing of Terrelle Pryor helps, losing two quality receivers is hard to overcome. Rob Kelley is the starting running back but he went over 100 yards only once last season so there will be little offensive balance. Like the Eagles, not enough was brought in to make a significant jump up.
Atlanta Falcons (2016: 11-5 SU, 10-6 ATS, 12-3-1 O/U)[/B]
The offense is probably going to regress. Granted, it was still be one of the most prolific units in the league, but the loss of offensive-coordinator Kyle Shanahan certainly matters and it will be hard for Mattt Ryan to match last year’s numbers. Also, the big question here is how will the team respond after gagging away the Super Bowl in February? In other sports, there have been recent examples of a team coming up short in a championship scenario, only to go “all the way” the following year. Clemson football, UNC hoops and the Cleveland Cavaliers all come to mind. But we haven’t seen a Super Bowl loser make it back to that game the following season since Buffalo’s string of setbacks in the early 1990’s. The division is vastly improved this year and with Atlanta expected to be favored in as many as 12 games, there should be ample opportunities to fade them.
[B]Carolina Panthers (2016: 6-10 SU, 6-9-1 ATS, 7-8-1 O/U)[/B]
All signs are pointing up this year. Going into last year, no one believed Carolina would match 2015’s 15-1 mark, but the fall was far harsher than anyone could have predicted. They won nine fewer games due in large part to going from +20 to -2 in turnover margin and going 2-6 SU in one-score games (where they were 7-1 the previous season). Expect them to finish somewhere in between the last two years, this year. That means a potential return to the playoffs as Cam Newton will be healthier and he’s got a new weapon in Christian McCaffery. By virtue of finishing last in the South last year, they will play an easier schedule. With the 49ers, Bills and Saints being the first three opponents this year, a 3-0 SU start is a very real possibility.
[B]New Orleans Saints (2016: 7-9 SU, 11-5 ATS, 9-7 O/U)[/B]
There are two sides to every equation. As automatic as it may be to proclaim this offense as “good,” it’s just as easy to call the defense “very bad.” Drew Brees is also getting old (he’s 38) and don’t expect a lot out of Adrian Peterson. The team traded away top receiver Brandin Cooks to the Patriots. Unless they plan on winning a lot of shootouts, another average season (at best) should be expected here. Having covered a division best 11 games in 2016, don’t expect them to be as successful at the betting window this season. They weren’t getting the usual respect at home (for some reason) last year.
[B]Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2016: 9-7 SU, 9-7 ATS, 7-8-1 O/U)[/B]
Exercise cation with this sexy sleeper. The main issue is that they managed to win nine games last year despite being favored in only three. Clearly, they caught the oddsmakers by surprise. Their +6 in net upsets led the league and indicates that regression could be on the way. For all the hype, the Bucs are favored in only five (maybe six) games this year, so this kind of reminds me of last year’s Jaguars (they won’t be that bad though). This team was not as good as last year’s record indicated. The division is tough, they it’s asking a lot to win at both Atlanta and Carolina again and they could be set up for disappointment.
Arizona Cardinals (2016: 7-8-1 SU, 6-10 ATS, 10-6 O/U)[/B]
Arizona was 7-8-1 last season, but its failures could largely be chalked up to losing close games. In games decided by seven points or less, the Cardinals were 2-5-1. In 2015, when Arizona went 13-3, it was 4-1 in games decided by seven or less points. A major factor in this decline was the performance of place kicker Chandler Catanzaro, who succeeded on just 75 percent of his attempts (after converting 90.3 percent in 2015). Management replaced Catanzaro with 42-year-old veteran Phil Dawson, who has missed just three field goals each of the past two seasons. Otherwise, Arizona chose to not over-react to its disappointing season. The well-respected coaching staff remains largely in place. Bruce Arians heads the unit, and he’s 51-27-1 in his career when in charge of a staff. The Cards also boast one of the best talents in the league in running back David Johnson, who gained 100-plus yards from scrimmage in each of his first 15 games last season.
[B]Los Angeles Rams (2016: 4-12 SU, 4-11-1 ATS, 7-9 O/U)[/B]
Thirty-one-year-old Sean McVay (the youngest head coach in modern NFL history) replaces Jeff Fisher. McVay’s passion and enthusiasm will be key in turning around this franchise. Additionally, Wade Phillips is the new defensive coordinator. Though the Rams ranked No. 9 in total defense last season, Phillips is arguably the best defensive coordinator in the NFL and can make the unit even better. The coaching staff’s primary goal this past offseason was to upgrade the talent around second-year quarterback Jared Goff, who had a disastrous rookie season. A key signing was veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth. Goff also should benefit from a change in scheme, as McVay favors more of a spread offense, which is what Goff succeeded in at Cal-Berkeley. Finally, running back Todd Gurley should have a bounce-back campaign following a season in which he rushed for just 885 yards (the fewest in NFL history by a back with 275-plus carries). Last year, defenses were able to stack the box against him, but that will be less the case this season.
[B]San Francisco 49ers (2016: 2-14 SU, 4-11-1 ATS, 10-6 O/U)[/B]
Erstwhile head coach Chip Kelly lasted just one season in San Francisco. The 49ers went just 2-14, in no small measure due to the fact that the players didn’t fit Kelly’s system. Enter rookie head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch. They’ve overhauled much of the roster (50 of the team’s players on its offseason roster were new), with an eye toward acquiring talent that will allow Shanahan to create an offense founded on personnel groups equally adept at running and passing the football. To help with the transition, the 49ers have also brought in players like QB Brian Hoyer and WR Pierre Garcon, who have worked under Shanahan in the past.
[B]Seattle Seahawks (2016: 10-5-1 SU, 7-8-1 ATS, 9-7 O/U)[/B]
Seattle won 10 games last season — the fifth straight season it reached double-digit wins — a hallmark of consistency under coach Pete Carroll. If not for injuries to key personnel, Seattle likely would have won more than it did. Free safety Earl Thomas suffered a broken leg in a December game versus Carolina, after which Seattle’s defense gave up 30-plus points in three of its final six games (losing those three). Additionally, cornerback Richard Sherman was bothered by an MCL injury, while quarterback Russell Wilson battled knee and ankle injuries the entire season. Wilson’s rushing productivity was greatly affected, as he ran for a career-low 259 yards. The good news is that all of Seattle’s key players are feeling fit, so it’s a reasonable expectation that it will once again find the form which allowed it to reach the Super Bowl in the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Finally, the Seahawks play in a weak division, and get to play two of the worst teams in football (Rams, 49ers) twice each.
[size=”3″][I][B] Thursday Night NFL betting preview and odds: Chiefs at Patriots [/B][/I][/size]
[B]Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots (-9, 48.5)[/B]
Seven months removed from the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history that burnished the legacies of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots open the 2017 season on Thursday night against the visiting Kansas City Chiefs. Emotions should be high as the Patriots celebrate their fifth world championship in a pregame ceremony.
Brady, who turned 40 last month, became the first quarterback in history to win five Super Bowl titles, rallying New England from a 25-point deficit in the second half to a 34-28 overtime win over the Atlanta Falcons. New England, the last team to repeat as Super Bowl champ in 2003-04, was not content to stand pat in the offseason and brought in an elite wide receiver in Brandin Cooks — an acquisition even more noteworthy after fellow wideout Julian Edelman suffered a season-ending knee injury last month. The Chiefs face a daunting challenge against a club that has won 24 in a row at home against non-division AFC opponents, but they have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, having won 23 games over the past two seasons and claiming the AFC West title in 2016 with a 12-4 mark. “If you’re in this business, that’s what you thrive on, and I’d tell you both sides feel that way,” Kansas City coach Andy Reid said of facing the Patriots. “The players, that’s why they play the game. They want to play against the best. You want to coach against the best — that’s a beautiful thing.”
TV:[/B] 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC.
POWER RANKINGS:[/B] Chiefs (-4.5) – Patriots (-7) + home field (-3) = Patriots -5.5
LINE HISTORY:[/B] The Patriots opened as seven-point home favorites way back when lines were first released in April. The public bet the defending champs steadily all summer and, as of Wednesday evening, the line was at -9. The total originally hit the betting boards at 50 and was dropped slightly down to 48.5.
WHAT SHARPS SAY:[/B] “Kansas City overachieved big time last season. Their stats were not indicative of their straight-up record, so the Chiefs will likely regress this season. New England is the best team in the NFL, even with the loss of WR Edelman. A deep group of speedy wide receivers makes their offense even more potent than before.” – Steve Merril.
Chiefs – LB D. Johnson (Probable, Achilles), K. C. Santos (Probable, Groin), OL C. Irving (Probable, Calf), TE T. Kelce (Probable, Calf), OL P. Ehinger (Probable, Knee), LB R. Ragland (Probable, Knee), DB R. Parker (Questionable, Ankle), LB D. Nicolas (Out, Knee), RB S. Ware (I-R, Knee), DB A. Lampkin (IR, Knee), DB S. Nelson (Out, Abdominal), LB T. Hali (Out, Knee).
Patriots – LB E. Roberts (Probable, Ribs), WR M. Mitchell (Questionable, Knee), OL C. Flemming (Questionable, Ankle), DT V. Valentine (Questionable, Knee), DL A. Butler (Questionable, Knee), DB N. Ebner (Questionable, Shoulder), LB H. Langi (Questionable, Concussion), WR M. Slater (Questionable, Hamstring), LB S. McClellin (I-R, Undisclosed), OL A. Jelks (Out, Knee), WR J. Edelman (I-R, Knee), CB C. Jones (I-R, Knee), DL K. Davis (I-R, Neck), OL T. Garcia (Out, Illness), DE D. Rivers (I-R, Knee).
ABOUT THE CHIEFS (2016: 12-4 SU, 9-7 ATS, 6-10 O/U):[/B] Quarterback Alex Smith doesn’t put up big numbers — his 3,502 passing yards in 2016 were a career high — and has been tagged with the label of game manager, but the former No. 1 overall pick has tossed only 28 interceptions versus 76 scoring passes in four seasons in Kansas City. With the departure of veteran Jeremy Maclin, Tyreek Hill becomes the top target following a flashy rookie season in which he amassed 12 touchdowns — six via scoring passes, three on the ground and three in the air. Rookie running back Kareem Hunt, a third-round pick who piled up nearly 5,000 yards over four seasons at Toledo, ascended to the starting job when Spencer Ware underwent season ending knee surgery, while Travis Kelce is widely considered the league’s No. 2 tight end behind New England’s Rob Gronkowski. There’s plenty of talent on the other side of the ball, with perennial Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry leading a secondary that tied for the league high in interceptions, and Dee Ford and linebacker Justin Houston providing a pass rush that needs to pressure Brady.
ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (2017: 14-2 SU, 13-3 ATS, 6-10 O/U):[/B] Brady missed the first four games in 2016 while under suspension for the Deflategate saga, but returned to throw for 28 touchdowns against only two interceptions before capping the season with a record 466-yard performance in the stunning comeback in Super Bowl LI. Edelman was Brady’s most trusted target with at least 92 catches in three of the past four seasons, but Cooks provides a dynamic big-play threat with 17 scoring passes over the past two years in New Orleans while touchdown machine Gronkowski (68 in 88 games) returns after back surgery ended his season after eight contests. New England was willing to let LeGarrette Blount and his NFL-high 18 rushing TDs leave via free agency, bringing in Mike Gillislee from Buffalo and Rex Burkhead from Cincinnati to go with Super Bowl hero James White in the backfield. New England led the league with an average of 15.6 points allowed last season and bolstered the defense with the signing of free-agent cornerback Stephen Gilmore, who registered a career-best five interceptions for Buffalo in 2016.
* Chiefs are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 road games.
* Patriots are 18-7-2 ATS in their last 27 vs. AFC.
* Over is 6-2 in Chiefs last 8 games in September.
* Over is 4-0 in Patriots last 4 games overall.
* Chiefs are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 meetings.
CONSENSUS:[/B] The public is supporting the road pup Chiefs at a rate of 53 percent and the Over is picking up 56 percent of the totals action.
[B][I]Chiefs rout Pats in 2nd half of 42-27 win
September 7, 2017[/I][/B]
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) There were big plays all over the field. The Chiefs, not the Patriots, were making them.
Rookie Kareem Hunt, after fumbling on his first NFL carry, scored three times and set an NFL mark to help Kansas City stun New England 42-27 on Thursday night in the season opener. Hunt’s 239 yards in his pro debut were a record since the 1970 merger.
Alex Smith threw two long touchdown passes and became the first quarterback with 300-plus yards, four TDs and no interceptions against coach Bill Belichick. The 42 points were the most the Patriots have allowed in Belichick’s 17-plus seasons.
Coming off their sensational Super Bowl rally to a fifth Lombardi Trophy, the Patriots faded badly in the second half. A raucous sold-out crowd of 65,878 celebrated the unveiling of yet another championship banner, and there was plenty of talk about Tom Brady leading them to a 19-0 record.
After Week 1, though, they are winless.
”I just think we need to have more urgency and go out there and perform a lot better,” Brady said ”It’s a winning attitude, a championship attitude you have to bring every day. We had it handed to us on our own field.”
It was the first time the Patriots lost at Gillette Stadium when leading at halftime, a span of 82 games. They were no match for the Chiefs in the last two periods.
Tyreek Hill scored on a 75-yarder and Hunt put the Chiefs in front with a 78-yarder to punctuate Kansas City’s charge after trailing 17-14 at halftime. Hunt also had a 58-yard scamper and finished with 141 yards rushing and 98 receiving. Hill had 133 yards through the air, and Smith went 28 for 35 for 368 yards and four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Brady, the 13th quarterback to start an NFL game at age 40, didn’t look too spry. He struggled mightily in the second half and didn’t throw for a touchdown, finishing 16 for 36 for 267 yards.
”Just a very poor effort and we’ll have to do a lot better,” Brady said. ”Didn’t make a lot of plays tonight, actually.”
Patriots newcomer Mike Gillislee scored on three short runs, becoming the first player since Terrell Owens of Philadelphia in 2004 to score three touchdowns in his debut with a new team.
And Kansas City aided the Patriots’ cause with 15 penalties for 139 yards. Yet, in the end, the Chiefs looked like world-beaters.
At the beginning, it seemed like an extension of February’s Super Bowl. Riled up, Brady and the Patriots tore through the opposing defense as if it belonged to, well, the Falcons, scoring in nine plays, with Gillislee surging in from the 2.
One play later, they were at it again as Hunt fumbled. The Patriots took over at the Kansas City 32 and appeared to go up 14-0 on Rob Gronkowski’s diving catch. Then a replay review overturned the score, with NFL headquarters – which now makes final decisions on such reviews – determining the ball hit the ground as Gronk came down in the end zone.
Gillislee was stopped on fourth-and-inches at the KC 10 and the Chiefs, looking very much like the host team, marched 90 yards in 12 plays. Hunt made up for his early gaffe by gaining 25 yards on the tying drive, which Smith capped with a sharp 8-yard pass to Demetrius Harris.
The teams traded long touchdown drives, New England going 82 yards to Gillislee’s second TD, the Chiefs covering 92 yards at the end of the half before Hunt ran in with a 3-yard swing pass.
Stephen Gostkowski’s 25-yard field goal was the margin for New England’s halftime edge.
But the crowd’s fervor was silenced with Hill’s long touchdown on which prized free agent addition cornerback Stephon Gilmore was torched. Hunt sped down the middle behind linebacker Kyle Van Noy and DE/LB Cassius Marsh to put Kansas City in front for good.
New England failed twice in the first quarter on short-yardage runs, by Gillislee and Super Bowl hero James White, and again in the fourth period, by Gillislee. If anyone proclaimed the Patriots were missing RB LeGarrette Blount, who scored 18 TDs last season and was a beast in such situations, well, Gillislee, who came from Buffalo as a restricted free agent, ran in for a pair of 2-yard touchdowns and a 1-yarder.
Not only did the crowd revel in the video highlights from the Super Bowl, the fans booed vigorously when Commissioner Roger Goodell was shown talking on the sideline Chiefs owner Clark Hunt during warmups. A website distributed thousands of towels featuring Goodell’s face adorned with a clown nose, and many fans also had T-shirts with the caricature. Goodell watched the game from a suite, but not with Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
Kansas City’s star safety Eric Berry was carted off with 4:56 remaining with an undisclosed injury.
The Patriots lost perhaps their best defensive player, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, in the third quarter with a knee injury. His absence showed on Hunt’s long TD reception. … WR Danny Amendola left in the fourth quarter with a head injury. He’s projected as New England’s slot receiver with Julian Edelman out for the season.
[B][I]Falcons (-7, 49 ½) at Bears – 1:00 PM EST[/I][/B]
Preseason Record: 0-4 SU, 0-4 ATS
2016 Record: 11-5 SU, 10-6 ATS
Season Win Total: 9 ½ (Over -110)
Atlanta opens up its NFC title defense at Soldier Field, as a Super Bowl championship slipped through the Falcons’ hands in February’s overtime defeat to the Patriots. Since 1998, only one NFC team has played in consecutive Super Bowls (Seattle 2013-14), so the task isn’t daunting for Atlanta, but it won’t be easy. What also isn’t easy is motivation for Super Bowl losers in their season opener as those squads own a dreadful 5-13 SU and 3-15 ATS record since 1999.
Preseason Record: 2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS
2016 Record: 3-13 SU, 7-9 ATS
Season Win Total: 5 ½ (Under -125)
The Bears go into the season with questions at the quarterback position. Offseason acquisition Mike Glennon gets the start ahead of second overall pick Mitchell Trubisky as Chicago’s offense looks for a boost after being held to 17 points of fewer 10 times last season. The Bears actually closed 2016 on a 4-1 ATS run at home, including underdog covers against Green Bay, Tennessee, and Minnesota. Chicago has won each of the past two meetings with Atlanta, as the Bears destroyed the Falcons on opening day in 2011 by a 30-12 count.
[B][I]Best Bet: Chicago +7
Eagles (-1, 48) at Redskins – 1:00 PM EST[/I][/B]
Preseason Record: 2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS
2016 Record: 7-9 SU, 8-8 ATS
Season Win Total: 8 ½ (Over -120)
Philadelphia flew out of the gate in Carson Wentz’s rookie season by starting 3-0, capped off by a blowout home win over Pittsburgh. However, the Eagles picked up only four victories the rest of the season, while losing their final seven games away from Lincoln Financial Field. Philadelphia heads to the Nation’s Capital with double-revenge on its mind after getting swept by Washington last season, as the Eagles have dropped five straight matchups with the Redskins.
Preseason Record: 2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS
2016 Record: 8-7-1 SU, 10-6 ATS
Season Win Total: 7 ½ (Under -150)
After losing their first two games last season, the Redskins ran off four straight victories. However, Washington fell short of the postseason by losing four of its final six contests. There should be plenty of points scored at FedEx Field as both meetings in 2016 finished OVER the total, while Washington went 6-2 to the OVER at home last season. In two victories against the Eagles last season, the Redskins held Philadelphia’s offense to only one touchdown.
[B][I]Best Bet: Washington +1
Cardinals (-1, 48 ½) at Lions – 1:00 PM EST[/I][/B]
Preseason Record: 2-3 SU, 2-3 ATS
2016 Record: 7-8-1 SU, 6-10 ATS
Season Win Total: 8 ½ (Over -140)
Following an NFC championship appearance in 2015, the Cardinals took a step back in 2016 by posting a 7-8-1 record and missing the playoffs. Arizona finished last season on a high note with victories at Seattle and San Francisco, but the Cardinals went 3-5 on the highway. The Cardinals have owned the Lions over the years by winning seven straight meetings dating back to 2006, while manhandling Detroit at Ford Field in 2015 in a 42-17 blowout.
Preseason Record: 2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS
2016 Record: 9-7 SU, 8-8 ATS
Season Win Total: 7 ½ (Under -170)
The Lions inked quarterback Matthew Stafford to a brand new deal, while hoping that can propel Detroit to consecutive playoff appearances for the first time since 1994 and 1995. Detroit sputtered at the end of last season with three consecutive losses before bowing out to Seattle in the Wild Card round. What helped the Lions reach the playoffs was five wins by three points each, as Detroit put together a solid 6-2 record at Ford Field.
[B][I]Best Bet: Arizona -1
Raiders at Titans (-2, 50 ½) – 1:00 PM EST[/I][/B]
Preseason Record: 0-4 SU, 0-4 ATS
2016 Record: 12-4 SU, 6-10 ATS
Season Win Total: 9 ½ (Under -130)
The Raiders were cruising to an AFC West title and a potential showdown with the Patriots for the AFC championship. Those dreams were shattered along with Derek Carr’s leg in a late-season injury that put the Oakland quarterback out of commission for the playoffs. In spite of getting ousted by Houston in the Wild Card round, the Raiders posted a 12-4 record to go along with a 6-2 mark away from the Coliseum. Oakland limited Tennessee to its lowest point total of the season in 2016 by knocking off the Titans, 17-10 last September.
Preseason Record: 1-3 SU, 1-3 ATS
2016 Record: 9-7 SU, 7-9 ATS
Season Win Total: 9 (Under -115)
Tennessee has high expectations placed on them entering Marcus Mariota’s third season at quarterback. The Titans closed 2016 strong by winning four of their final five games to finish at 9-7, the franchise’s first winning season since 2011. Tennessee is hosting Oakland for the third straight season, as the Titans have lost the last two seasons by a combined 10 points to the Raiders. Since Mariota took over at quarterback, the Titans have compiled a 3-4-1 ATS record as a home favorite.
[B][I]Best Bet: Oakland +2
Ravens at Bengals (-3, 42 ½) – 1:00 PM EST[/I][/B]
Preseason Record: 4-0 SU, 4-0 ATS
2016 Record: 8-8 SU, 7-9 ATS
Season Win Total: 8 ½ (Under -145)
These AFC North rivals are hooking up on opening day for the first time since 2014 as the Ravens look to avenge a 23-16 home defeat. Baltimore is fresh off a perfect preseason, but the Ravens didn’t get a lot of work out of quarterback Joe Flacco. He is expected to play on Sunday after missing most of the preseason with a back injury, while Baltimore shoots for its first road victory since Week 3 last season at Jacksonville. The Ravens dropped their final six road contests in 2016, including a 27-10 drubbing in Week 17 at Cincinnati.
Preseason Record: 1-3 SU, 2-2 ATS
2016 Record: 6-9-1 SU, 7-9 ATS
Season Win Total: 8 ½ (Under -135)
The Bengals won the division two seasons ago, but fell backwards in 2016 by winning just six games, while picking up consecutive victories only one time. Cincinnati is riding a three-game hot streak in season openers, while playing Week 1 at Paul Brown Stadium for the first time since 2009. The Bengals haven’t lost at home to the Ravens since 2012, while the home team owns an 8-2 record in the series in the last 10 matchups.
[B][I]Best Bet: Cincinnati -3
Seahawks at Packers (-3, 50 ½) – 4:25 PM EST[/I][/B]
Preseason Record: 4-0 SU, 4-0 ATS
2016 Record: 10-5-1 SU, 8-8 ATS
Season Win Total: 10 ½ (Over -125)
Seattle rallied to stun Green Bay in the NFC championship in 2014 before losing in the Super Bowl to New England on the final play. The Seahawks haven’t made a Super Bowl since but have qualified for the postseason each of the past five seasons. The last two seasons the Seahawks have come up short against the Packers at Lambeau Field, including a 38-10 drubbing to Green Bay last December as a three-point road favorite.
Preseason Record: 1-3 SU, 2-2 ATS
2016 Record: 10-6 SU, 9-6-1 ATS
Season Win Total: 10 ½ (Under -140)
The Packers made it all the way to the NFC title game last season before getting blitzed by the Falcons. Hopes are still high for a Super Bowl appearance in Titletown this season as the Packers won seven of nine games at Lambeau Field in 2016. The Packers overcame a November swoon in which they dropped four straight games to finish the regular season with six straight victories before playoff triumphs over the Giants and Cowboys prior to the Atlanta loss in the championship.
[B][I]NFL Week 1 Essentials
September 7, 2017[/I][/B]
The 2017 regular season is here. Schedule makers deserve a pat on the back for putting together some complex, attractive matchups. Let’s get into thought process mode in handicapping Week 1’s offerings:
[B]Thursday, Sept. 7
Kansas City at New England[/B]: Coming off a season where they covered 16 of 19 and a record-setting Super Bowl where they staged a comeback that seemed impossible, the Patriots may as well be wearing a cloak of invisibility. The betting public has invested heavily in this perception, causing the line to move from 7 points to 9-9.5 approaching game day. Tom Brady turned 40 early last month and is driven enough to think he has something to prove entering his 16th season opener as a starter. The Chiefs ended his 2008 season prematurely in an opener, but that coincidence isn’t something that’s going to factor in here. Having a healthy Rob Gronkowski in addition to new weapons Brandin Cooks, Dwayne Allen and Phillip Dorsett will test where his chemistry currently stands with all those guys against a Chiefs defense that forced an NFL-high 33 turnovers last season. After cutting Jeremy Maclin, Kansas City has to count on Travis Kelce to continue his ascent as one of the game’s top tight ends in addition to relying on young receivers like Tyreek Hill, Chris Conley and Albert Wilson. Can they make enough plays to help Alex Smith hang with a Brady-led offense? Expect Andy Reid to take his shots since a conservative approach on the road is likely to get his team beat.
[B]Sunday, Sept. 10
N.Y. Jets at Buffalo:[/B] The Sean McDermott era officially opens at home with Tyrod Taylor under center after he cleared concussion protocol. He had a rough preseason even before the Ravens knocked him out early in their Aug. 26 dress rehearsal win. Rookie Nathan Peterman, a fifth-round pick from Pittsburgh, was one of the few bright spots alongside fellow first-year wideout Zay Jones, so given the decision to move on from the oft-injured Sammy Watkins, this looks like a rebuilding season in Buffalo. The Jets made no secret that’s what is in store for them, dealing Sheldon Richardson to Seattle and moving off of veterans like Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold, David Harris, Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and disappointing QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Josh McCown will take over to start the season until Bryce Petty inevitably gets his shot, which makes this the week’s ugliest matchup. Todd Bowles is 1-1 (SU/ATS) in openers and swept the Bills last season for two of New York’s five wins.
[B]Atlanta at Chicago:[/B] Reigning MVP Matt Ryan and his teammates can finally turn the page on their Super Bowl disappointment and will be close to full strength since Devonta Freeman returned after missing a few weeks with a concussion. Only rookie RB Brian Hill is questionable, so the Bears will have to deal with an attack that entered the Patriots loss averaging 39 points per game and would’ve captured a championship had they broken 30 in regulation. Chicago surrendered 30 or more points in each of its last three games but returns Top-10 pick Leonard Floyd to help Vic Fangio’s unit turn things around. Offensively, the Bears suffered a major setback in the preseason when top wideout Cameron Meredith was lost to a knee injury, putting pressure on former No. 7 pick Kevin White to emerge as Mike Glennon’s go-to option following two seasons ruined by injuries. It will be interesting to see how he handles being covered by the likes of Marcus Trufant, but he’s likely to get opportunities to show what he can do.
[B]Baltimore at Cincinnati:[/B] The Ravens didn’t expose Joe Flacco in the preseason due to a painful disc issue in his back but always held out hope that he’d be ready when the season rolled around. That faith was rewarded when he returned this week, joined by newly acquired Danny Woodhead and Breshad Perriman, both of whom were dealing with hamstring injuries. Although Baltimore was again greatly affected by injuries in training camp, its prospects look better than they appeared a month ago and improve since Bengals defensive standouts Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones are suspended and safety Shawn Williams is out at least a month with an elbow dislocation. The Bengals did get good news on Jeremy Hill (ankle), who is healed enough to round out a running back rotation alongside rookie Joe Mixon and the versatile Giovani Bernard that will try and crack a Baltimore run defense that allowed the NFL’s fifth-fewest yards in ’16. Because of the continuity of both coaching staffs, there doesn’t figure to be a lot that will surprise the opposing side, but Cincinnati has won six of seven meetings between these AFC North rivals since 2014.
[B]Pittsburgh at Cleveland:[/B] The other half of the division is also pitted against each other as the Steelers look to get off to a strong start by extending their winning streak over the Browns to five. Mike Tomlin is 17-3 against the AFC North’s resident doormat since taking over in ’07. All the losses have come at FirstEnergy Stadium, but Cleveland is starting rookie DeShone Kizer and only won last Christmas Eve over its last 19 games. Although this season also figures to be an uphill climb, the emergence of Kizer this preseason and an improved-looking defense fortified by the presence of first-round picks Myles Garrett and Jabril Peppers has the franchise optimistic. Garrett suffered a high ankle sprain in practice and is out for the first few weeks, so Ben Roethlisberger will have one fewer playmaker to concern himself with and now has Joe Haden on his side. He’s also got Martavis Bryant back to help stretch the field after he was reinstated following a season-long suspension last year. Le’Veon Bell ended his holdout on Sept. 1 and reported to camp in shape, so it’s unlikely not being around this preseason will hold him back.
[B]Arizona at Detroit:[/B] It was an eventful offseason for the Lions with Matthew Stafford getting his lucrative extension and the opportunity to test themselves against the Patriots in the preseason’s most important week blowing up in their face. Detroit comes into this one with DE Ziggy Ansah, LB Tahir Whitehead and TE Eric Ebron ready to play after camp ailments, so there can be no excuses if they fail to protect their homefield in this first test. The Cardinals defense will be missing key cog Deonne Bucannon (ankle) and may be without DT Robert Nkemdiche, who is struggling to overcome a calf injury. Since both teams are expected to compete for playoff berths despite not being their division’s favorite, getting a leg up immediately would provide a huge boost to whoever gets it together first. The Lions have lost seven consecutive games against Arizona after winning back in 2005. Stafford himself is 0-5, throwing just four touchdowns against 10 interceptions.
[B]Jacksonville at Houston:[/B] Tom Savage held off rookie Desean Watson’s charge to win the Texans’ starting QB gig, while Blake Bortles did the same against Chad Henne with the Jaguars. Neither inspires a ton of confidence, particularly Bortles, who followed up a brutal 2016 season by looking extremely shaky in camp, holding on to his job only after a strong fourth quarter against Bucs backups. He’ll have Marquise Lee back in the mix from an ankle issue in addition to No. 4 pick Leonard Fournette debuting next to him at running back, so he’ll at least have a fighting chance against a fierce looking Houston defense. The Texans are likely to have a conservative game plan in place since receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Braxton Miller are banged up and Jaelen Strong (suspended) and Will Fuller (collarbone) are ruled out. If Savage’s game management skills don’t pan out, there’s a chance Watson joins Kizer as rookies seeing action under center on the NFL’s opening Sunday.
[B]Oakland at Tennessee:[/B] These teams are each favored to win their AFC divisions, led by elite young QBs that have already made significant strides to prove their legitimacy. That makes this a great early test for both that could have homefield implications come playoffs. Marcus Mariota had a shaky training camp, but could look sharper given time to cram for this one with veteran Eric Decker (ankle) and rookies Corey Davis (hamstring) and Taywan Taylor (calf) set to return. With David Amerson (concussion) and rookie Gareon Conley (shin) missing time of late and Khalil Mack (knee) coming in with a pre-existing issue, Oakland may not be ready to defend on the road like they managed to last season in winning six of eight. Derek Carr has made some plays in his return from a broken fibula suffered last Christmas Eve, and he’ll have a loaded, healthy offense that includes wrecking ball Marshawn Lynch to rely upon.
[B]Philadelphia at Washington:[/B] Seeing the Eagles open as an early road favorite is certainly disrespectful to the ‘Skins, but indicative of the direction bookmakers see these franchises going this season. Carson Wentz is expected to make a jump with veteran receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith coming on board and LeGarrette Blount around to gain tough yards. Kirk Cousins will have to succeed without veteran weapons DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, giving Terrelle Pryor, Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson more of a stage. The Eagles haven’t defeated Washington in their last five meetings and have won only once in Landover since 2011, so this would be an important first step if they are to have a breakout year.
[B]Indianapolis at L.A. Rams:[/B] The best players on both sides here, QB Andrew Luck and DT Aaron Donald, won’t be a part of the action. Luck is hurt and Donald is holding out for the paycheck he’s earned himself, so both teams will have to tune into their inner MacGyver to emerge from Week 1 unscathed. Indianapolis will also have to replace center Ryan Kelly and top corner Vontae Davis in addition to relying on Scott Tolzien to help produce a road win. 30-year-old Sean McVay is under the microscope as the youngest head coach in NFL history and matches minds with beleaguered veteran Chuck Pagano in a favorite’s role. If L.A. can generate pressure and make like difficult on the Colts without the esteemed Donald, they could win a home game at the Coliseum for the first time since shocking the Seahawks in last season’s home opener.
[B]Seattle at Green Bay:[/B] The Packers got great news with tackle Brian Bulaga returning to practice and feeling no ill effects from his sprained ankle, suggesting he’ll be out there helping protect Aaron Rodgers against a fierce-looking Seahawks decent fortified by the addition of a healthy Sheldon Richardson. It wouldn’t be surprising if Seattle gets immediate production given his desire to fit in on another elite line after a great run when healthy in New York. It’s looking like this is going to be a fair fight between the two teams that entered the week as 7-to-2 co-favorites (Westgate Superbook) to get out of the NFC. Russell Wilson spent his senior season at Wisconsin and helped beat the Packers as a rookie on that Hail Mary that should’ve never been called a touchdown by replacement refs, but he’s suffered blowout losses in his two trips to Lambeau the last two seasons, throwing six interceptions.
[B]Carolina at San Francisco:[/B] Cam Newton threw two passes in a preseason win as the Panthers rightfully kept his focus on healing up his surgically repaired throwing shoulder. That’s provided little opportunity to gel with new weapons Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel, so you can count on Ron Rivera placing the burden of getting off to a strong start on his capable defense. Key DT Vernon Butler is wearing a heavy brace on a sprained knee he hurt early in the preseason and may not move around normally if he plays at all. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan wouldn’t commit to starters beyond starting QB Brian Hoyer and former All-Pro tackle Joe Staley, so he’s looking for individuals to prove they deserve playing time on this team he’s inherited. Shanahan, who has to take a lot of blame for Atlanta blowing the Super Bowl, is San Francisco’s fourth head coach in as many seasons. Making sure no one comes into the season comfortable is probably right the strategy since there are few guys on the roster who have consistently brought it on the field.
[B]N.Y. Giants at Dallas:[/B] Ezekiel Elliott’s immediate future may extend beyond this game if he wins his legal battle to put off a six-game suspension, but with nothing guaranteed there, the Cowboys really need to lock in on putting this divisional home game in their pocket. That’s especially true since New York comes in vulnerable due to Odell Beckham Jr.’s potential absence and the fact other receivers come in banged up. Ben McAdoo ended a winless three-game run for the Giants in Dallas by surviving 20-19 in his head coaching debut last season. He then snapped the Cowboys’ 11-game winning streak with a 10-7 comeback win in December. New York hadn’t swept Dallas since ’11, so the fact both games were so close and ended in disappointment is certain to be a driving force for the host Cowboys. Head coach Jason Garrett is 3-3 in season openers, with victimizing the Giants accounting for all his victories.
[B]Monday, Sept. 11
New Orleans at Minnesota:[/B] While Adrian Peterson returning to Minneapolis clad in black and gold is the primary story line, his production isn’t likely to be the determining factor in this matchup. Or maybe it will be. In that regard, it’s going to be riveting to see what Sean Payton has in store for a new-look offense that will be breaking in Peterson and rookie back Alvin Kamara while also missing their second and third-leading receivers from last season with Cooks gone and Willie Snead suspended. Complicating matters, left tackle Terron Armstead will miss at least the first month with a shoulder issue, so squaring off with a fantastic defense on the road right off the bat isn’t ideal. Payton hasn’t won a season opener on the road since 2006, but his Saints could feel comfortable in a dome despite a daunting road atmosphere that Drew Brees is certainly experienced enough to handle. The Vikings are confident rookie DT Jaleel Johnson can adequately replace the injured Sharrif Floyd, but the starting offense struggled in the preseason and is loaded with question marks. Can rookie RB Dalvin Cook execute at a high level immediately? It seems fitting that A.P. will be in the building to see how his replacement fares.
L.A. Chargers at Denver:[/B] The Broncos decided Trevor Siemian was their QB early on in this preseason, so we’ll see whether increased reps will pay off for all involved. There have been conflicting reports over how hampered Demaryius Thomas has been by a groin injury suffered in the Aug. 26 dress rehearsal, but he’s going to be out there. Denver was perfect this preseason under new head coach Vance Joseph, while the Chargers won only once as they transitioned to L.A. under first-year head coach Anthony Lynn. Feel free to dismiss all that if you want because Philip Rivers completed all but one of his 12 passes and directed touchdown drives in each of his three possessions. He was a part of a 9-2 run against the Broncos from ’06-’11, but has most recently dropped nine of 11 head-to-head meetings. With Keenan Allen back, there’s cause for optimism, but we’ll know a lot more about how seriously to take these Chargers after this one.
[B][I]NFL notebook: Bengals ink LB Burfict to 3-year extension
September 7, 2017[/I][/B]
Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict signed a three-year extension on Thursday.
Burfict’s deal is worth $38.68 million, according to multiple reports.
The 26-year-old is playing through the final season of a four-year contract in 2017. He will miss the first three games of the campaign due to a suspension for repeated violations of on-field safety rules.
[B]–Former NFL linebacker Drew Wahlroos committed suicide with a self-inflicted gunshot to the chest. He was 37.[/B]
The San Diego Medical Examiner’s Office said Wahlroos died Saturday.
Wahlroos played in 21 games for the St. Louis Rams from 2004-05. He was released prior to the 2006 campaign. Wahlroos played collegiately for Colorado from 1999-2002.
[B]–The Kansas City Chiefs released C.J. Spiller, marking the second time in under a week that they have cut the running back.[/B]
Kansas City also released offensive lineman Jordan Devey, with the moves coming just hours ahead of the team’s season-opening game against the defending champion New England Patriots.
The departures of Spiller and Devey likely are moves that allow the Chiefs to sign them following the season opener without guaranteeing their contracts.
[B]–Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald is expected to miss Sunday’s season opener against the Indianapolis Colts as he continues his prolonged holdout, ESPN reported.[/B]
Donald has been absent throughout training camp and the preseason, accumulating approximately $1.4 million in fines. If the 26-year-old All-Pro fails to report before Sunday’s game, he will lose one game check from a contract that pays him a base salary of $1.8 million.
The 6-foot-1, 280-pound Donald has been a Pro Bowl selection in each of his three NFL seasons, playing all 48 games. In 2016, he started all 16 games and recorded 47 tackles, eight sacks, five passes defensed and two forced fumbles.
[B]–Calvin Pryor will be released by the Cleveland Browns after the safety reportedly was involved in a fight with a teammate during Thursday’s practice.[/B]
Coach Hue Jackson confirmed the team’s decision to part ways with Pryor.
Pryor was acquired from the New York Jets in exchange for linebacker Demario Davis on June 1. He collected 60 tackles and one forced fumble in 15 games last season. He had 184 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles in 44 career contests since being selected by New York with the 18th overall pick in the 2014 draft.
[B]–Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy missed a portion of Thursday’s practice with what the team referred to as a “stomach bug.”[/B]
McCoy missed a stretch of team drills before finishing the session in a limited capacity.
Coach Sean McDermott dismissed any concern for the moment of the team’s expected workhorse to miss Buffalo’s regular-season opener against the New York Jets.
McCoy rushed for 1,267 yards and 13 touchdowns last season and had 350 yards receiving and one score.
[B]–Kicker Sebastian Janikowski agreed to a $1 million pay cut in his new deal with the Oakland Raiders, multiple outlets reported.[/B]
Janikowski’s base salary has been lowered from $4.05 million to $3 million fully guaranteed, but the 39-year-old can earn an additional $250,000 incentive if he makes 83 percent of his field goals this season, ESPN reported. He made 82.86 percent of his kicks in 2016.
Janikowski was guaranteed $238,000 of his $4.05 million salary after he remained on the roster Tuesday. The former first-round pick’s full salary would have been guaranteed had he been on the roster Saturday.
— Chiefs 42, Patriots 27— Alex Smith played really well, going 28-35 for 365 yards, four TD’s.
— Kareem Hunt is first player since Billy Sims in 1980 to gain 180+ yards from scrimmage and score 3+ TD’s in his NFL debut.
— Chiefs had the ball up 21-17 with 7:10 to go in 3rd quarter; KC was still +$155 on the live line.
— Indians 11, White Sox 2— Cleveland has now won 15 games in a row.
— Rockies 9, Dodgers 1— Clayton Kershaw lasted only 3.2 innings, allowing four runs.
— Florida, Florida State, Miami, South Florida all cancelled their football games this weekend because of Hurricane Irma.
[B][I]Friday’s List of 13: NFL knowledge with the season here…….
13) Dallas Cowboys haven’t played in a Super Bowl since the 1995 season; Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger both won a Super Bowl in their second season- Dallas is hoping Dak Prescott gets a championship in his second season.
12) Roethlisberger has played all 16 games in only three of his 13 NFL seasons; he missed one game in four other seasons.
11) Teams who have rebuilt/are rebuilding their offensive lines:
— Vikings have four new starters on the offensive line.
— Broncos, Ravens, Chargers, Lions, Rams all have three new starters.
10) Indianapolis Colts have eight new starters on defense; their QB and center are both out to start this season.
9) Lot of people are touting the Buccaneers to be a playoff team this year; after watching Hard Knocks this summer, I wasn’t overly impressed by anything about them, other than coach Dirk Koetter is a very calm person. Even when he curses someone out, it is done quietly.
Koetter got the head coaching job because of how he’s helped Jameis Winston develop as a QB; would’ve liked to have seen some of that behind-the-scenes teaching on Hard Knocks.
8) Carolina Panthers lost six games by 3 or less points last year; teams like that often make a quantum leap forward if they get some breaks the next season, but Carolina was also 15-1 the year before, so maybe last year was the correction.
In any event. Cam Newton’s shoulder is the Panthers’ most important variable.
7) Do you think Bill Belichick will retire when Tom Brady does?
6) Oakland Raiders have five new starters on defense; Derek Carr has been terrific at QB as a Raider, but he is 1-5 against the Chiefs.
5) Minnesota QB Sam Bradford’s passes traveled an average of 6.24 yards in the air LY, the shortest average pass of any starting QB, which helps explain why he completed 70% of them.
Bradford’s best WR is Michael Floyd, who is suspended for the first four games this year.
4) Baltimore Ravens were 8-8 LY, losing three games they led with 2:30 to play; since June 1, Ravens have lost four starters for the season with injuries. Joe Flacco didn’t take a snap in the preseason games and they have three new starters on the OL. I’m a skeptic.
3) Arizona Cardinals have only five outdoor games this season; three of their road games are in domes. Cardinals also have six new starters on defense this season.
2) New Orleans Saints have been 7-9 the last three seasons; they’ve got six new starters on defense this year. Will they run the ball more this season to protect that defense, and aging QB Drew Brees? They’ve added Adrian Peterson, so it is a popular theory.
1) Last two years, Chargers are 7-17 in games decided by 8 or less points; they’ve got 10 starters back on defense and a rookie coach who hired two former head coaches as coordinators, which seems like a smart move.
Top six picks in the Week 1 of the Westgate SuperContest in Las Vegas:
6) Pittsburgh Steelers -8.5 , 706
5) Arizona Cardinals -2, 742
4) Atlanta Falcons -6.5, 819
3) Tennessee Titans -2.5, 839
2) Houston Texans -5, 863
1) Cincinnati Bengals -2.5, 866
[B][I]Sunday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday…….
13) Oklahoma 31, Ohio State 16— Buckeyes play Army, UNLV and Rutgers their next three games; going to be some serious butt-kicking going on there, after this showing in the second half.
Senior QB Mayfield was 27-35 for 386 yards and three TD’s for the Sooners, who outscored Ohio State 28-13 in the second half.
12) USC 42, Stanford 24— Trojans gained over 600 yards of offense; hope they left some points on that field for the Rams today. USC was 10-12 on third down, ran for 307 yards. Impressive.
11) Clemson 14, Auburn 6— Gus Malzahn won the national title at Auburn in 2013; since then, he is 24-17 on the Plains, 11-13 in SEC games. No bueno.
Gene Chizik won the national title at Auburn in 2010; he got fired two years later, after going 11-14 in 2011-12. My point here? Not a lot of patience at Auburn- they gained a total of 117 yards in this game. The natives are officially restless.
10) Iowa 44, Iowa State 41 OT— Cyclones’ QB Jacob Park was South Carolina’s Mr Football in 2013; he went to Georgia, redshirted in 2014, then transferred to Trident Technical School, and then Northeasterm Oklahoma- he didn’t play ball at the those places.
He started three games at Iowa State last year; Saturday he completed 25-46 passes for 347 yards and four TD’s as the Cyclones lost in OT to their in-state rivals.
Iowa State’s starting QB for most of last year was Joel Lanning; he is now the Cyclones’ middle linebacker. You don’t see that a lot.
9) TCU 28, Arkansas 7— Horned Frogs ran the ball well and played solid defense. In its last three games against Power 5 opponents (Mizzou, Va Tech, TCU), the Razorbacks have scored zero second half points. No bueno.
Arkansas’ kicker missed 22 and 23-yard FG’s; TCU fumbled on the Arkansas 3-yard line.
8) Middle Tennessee 30, Syracuse 23— MTSU coach Rick Stockstill played QB at Florida State back in the day; his son Brent plays QB for the Blue Raiders now. Wonder what that is like, a coach needing to win to keep his job, and his most important player is his son. No pressure there.
The great basketball coach Al McGuire coached his son Allie at Marquette; when a point guard on the team complained that Allie was starting ahead of him, McGuire said: “I like you, but I LOVE my son.” End of discussion.
7) Indians 4, Orioles 2— Cleveland has outscored opponents 118-30 during its 17-game winning streak, 57-12 in the first three innings.
The A’s swept a doubleheader from Houston Saturday; I should’ve bought a lottery ticket.
6) Milwaukee Brewers’ pitcher Jimmy Nelson is out for the year; he hurt his shoulder diving head-first back into first base on a pickoff attempt Friday night. Oy.
5) Louisville 47, North Carolina 35— Lamar Jackson was 25-39 passing for 393 yards and three TD’s, and also ran for 132 yards and three TD’s, as the Tar Heels got beat at home for the second week in a row. Cardinals play Clemson next week- they gained 705 yards in this game.
4) Kent State 38, Howard 31— Cam Newton’s brother is Howard’s QB; he’s put up 74 points as the Bison split a pair of games against lower-level I-A programs. Not bad.
3) Georgia 20, Notre Dame 19— Dawgs had 12 penalties for 126 yards; teams combined to convert only 7-34 on third down, but this is a huge road win for Georgia, with a freshman QB.
2) Mississippi State 57, Louisiana Tech 21— Tech actually LOST 87 YARDS ON ONE PLAY late in this game!!! They wound up with 3rd-and-goal from their own 7-yard line, which has to be a record of some sort.
1) Next Saturday’s Miami-Florida State game was moved to October 7 because of the hurricane; Miami’s October 12 game was pushed back two days to the 14th.
Our thoughts-prayers to all the people affected by the storms. Please stay safe, though you’re probably not reading this anyway.
[B][I]Total Talk – Week 1
September 9, 2017[/I][/B]
The 2017 NFL regular season kicked off this past Thursday as Kansas City stunned New England 42-27 and bettors riding the ‘over’ wound up cashing the “total trifecta” as the game and both the first and second halves went to the high side. The opening NFL game has now seen the ‘over’ cash the last two seasons and four of the last five.
Due to the Hurricane hitting Florida this weekend, the Dolphins-Buccaneers game was postponed and Week 1 now has 14 games remaining with 12 of them scheduled on Sunday before the double-header on Monday.
This will be the 10th season of “Total Talk” and accept my apologies if the first installment isn’t up to speed. For the many of you that don’t know, the VegasInsider.com headquarters are located in South Florida and we’ve been evacuated to safety – fortunately!
With that being said, hope you and yours are safe and let’s have a great season.
Listed below are the largest as of Saturday morning from the opening numbers that were first available in mid-April at BookMaker.eu. I lean to the major offshore outfit because their timeliness of posting early numbers is great and their overall volume is very well-known in the industry.
N.Y. Jets at Buffalo: 43 to 40
Jacksonville at Houston: 42 to 39 ½
Oakland at Tennessee: 51 ½ to 50 ½
Pittsburgh at Cleveland: 47 ½ to 46 ½
Seattle at Green Bay: 49 to 50 ½
N.Y. Giants at Dallas: 49 to 47 ½
This season, we’re fortunate to lean on the man running the show behind the BookMaker.eu betting counter, Scott Cooley.
“We’ve seen pretty hefty support on the ‘under’ for the Jaguars-Texans total. The sharps fired at the 40s fairly early, and the public doesn’t have much interest in betting on a game with these two pedestrian teams,” said Cooley.
He added, “Another total we’re kind of crooked on is the Falcons-Bears game. The squares are offsetting somewhat with over bets, but the sharps have given us liability on the ‘under’ here.”
As mentioned above, the first nationally televised primetime game went ‘over’ on Thursday and Cooley is believing the public will carry that mantra into Sunday’s finale.
Cooley explained, “I think we’ll see that SNF total continue to escalate. It’s a marquee matchup and the public bettors will pound that over because they want to see fireworks.”
[B]Week 1 Trends to Watch
The opening week is never an easy handicap but there are some solid opening game trends that you should check out for Week 1.[/B]
[B]New Orleans Saints[/B]:Over 5-1 last six. The club is also 1-5 during this stretch, allowing 31, 37, 40, 42 and 35 in the defeats. To be fair, they have faced some juggernauts during this stretch including the Falcons twice, Packers and Raiders.
[B]Buffalo Bills:[/B]Under 4-0 last four. Say what you want about former coach Rex Ryan, but the Bills only allowed 13 and 14 points in each of the last two openers.
[B]Cincinnati Bengals:[/B]Over 6-1 last seven. The Bengals will meet the Ravens in Week 1 for the third time in the last five seasons. In the previous two, the outcomes finished 44-13 and 23-16.
[B]Detroit Lions:[/B]Over 6-0 last five. Offense has scored 27, 27, 34, 25, 28 and 39 points the last six openers.
[B]Green Bay Packers:[/B]Over 6-0. The defense has allowed 30-plus points in four of the six games during this span. Seattle visits on Sunday and the ‘over’ has gone 3-1 in the last four between this pair.
We’ve got seven divisional matchups on tap in Week 1 and two of them will be played in the national primetime spots on Sunday and Monday.[/B]
[B]N.Y. Jets at Buffalo:[/B]The ‘under’ has gone 4-1 in the last five encounters between this pair but they did play to a 37-31 shootout last season in Buffalo. This is a tough game to handicap due to the lack of offensive talent on paper for the Jets, plus the Bills are starting over again under rookie head coach Sean McDermott. Buffalo was a great ‘over’ bet (12-4) last season but you have to wonder if that trend tempers off this fall.
[B]Jacksonville at Houston:[/B]This matchup could will likely have the lowest closing total posted in Week 1. As of Saturday, the majority of betting shops are holding 39 ½ and bettors should note that the ‘over’ has gone 4-1 in the last five games in this series. However, the pair have only posted a combined 42.6 points per game during this stretch.
[B]Philadelphia at Washington:[/B]The ‘over’ went 2-0 in the two regular season meetings last year and the high side is on a 6-3-1 run in this series. Washington scored exactly 27 points in both contests last season, both wins, and that’s the number they’re averaging (27.7 PPG) in the last 10 versus the Birds. The Eagles were lit up defensively on the road (25.9 PPG) last season and that led to a 6-1-1 ‘over’ mark. Philadelphia did add some offensive weapons in the offseason and it has been flip-flopped to the favorite for this game.
[B]Baltimore at Cincinnati:[/B]These teams played to a pair of ugly games last season (19-14, 27-10) and the ‘under’ connected in both matchups. Both clubs have solid defensive units and the Bengals held teams to 16.7 PPG at home last season. Ravens QB Joe Flacco is expected to start after sitting out the entire preseason with back injury. The Bengals defense was great at home (16.7 PPG) last season but this unit will be missing LB Vontaze Burfict and CB Adam Jones to suspension on Sunday.
[B]Pittsburgh at Cleveland:[/B]This total is hovering between 46 and 47 on Sunday and the highest closing total between these teams in the last 30 meetings was 47, which tells you the oddsmakers are expecting some points. I can see the argument for Pittsburgh’s attack, which has a ton of playmakers but making the case for the Browns isn’t easy. Cleveland had the second worst scoring offense (16.5 PPG) and they couldn’t do any damage in the second-half (6.1 PPG). Rookie QB DeShone Kizer will get the start for the Browns and these young quarterbacks haven’t been terrible (Prescott, Mariota, Winston) in their openers recently but certainly not super.
[B]Dallas at N.Y. Giants:(See Below)
L.A. Chargers at Denver:(See Below)[/B]
Under the Lights[/B]
[B]N.Y. Giants at Dallas[/B]:The ‘under’ cashed in both games last season as the Giants captured a pair of victories (20-19, 10-7) over the Cowboys. Prior to those outcomes, the ‘over’ had connected in the previous seven encounters. New York couldn’t score consistently last season (19 PPG) and that production helped the ‘under’ go 12-4. The Giants also boasted the fourth-best scoring defense (18.9 PPG) in 2016. Dallas put some points on the board last season (26.6 PPG) but they still leaned to the ‘under’ (10-6). Odell Beckham Jr. (ankle) is ‘questionable’ for the Giants while the Cowboys will have RB Ezekiel Elliot ready to go. As our friends at BookMaker.eu mentioned above, these SNF games are ‘chaser’ games and the public usually leans high.
[B]New Orleans at Minnesota:[/B]This matchup is your classic offense vs. defense and the total (48) is clearly based on the perception of the Saints, a team that can score in bunches and give up just as many in return. The highest total Minnesota had in a home game last season was 44, which happened twice. The Vikings only allowed 18 PPG at U.S. Bank Stadium last season and the offense (22.1 PPG) wasn’t exactly a juggernaut. The Saints did see their offense temper a bit on the road (27.6 PPG) and some pundits believe they’ll run a bit more this season, especially since they acquired former Viking Adrian Peterson.
[B]L.A. Chargers at Denver: [/B]If you like to use trends in your handicapping, then check this out. In the last three seasons, all three games played at Mile High went ‘over’ the number while the three contests in San Diego went to the low side. Will that run continue on Monday? Since QB Peyton Manning left town, the Denver offense has been mediocre at best yet the defense remains the nucleus of the club. Whichever way you lean, I believe you’re going to sweat 60 minutes for this result. The total is hovering around 43 and I’m guessing it ends up close to that neighborhood.
It’s been a long offseason but hopefully over the next 21 weeks, we can turn a profit. As always, Press, Pass or Fade but in the end – Good Luck!
Best Over: Indianapolis-Los Angeles 41
Best Under: New York-Buffalo 40
Best Team Total: Over Detroit 23.5
Three-Team Total Teaser (8.5-Point, +100)
Under 57 ½ Atlanta-Chicago
Over 33 Baltimore-Cincinnati
Over 33 Indianapolis-Los Angeles[/B]
[B][I]NFL notebook: Rams DT Donald ends holdout
September 9, 2017[/I][/B]
Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald ended his holdout on Saturday by reporting to the team and passing a physical, the team announced.
Donald has not received a new contract, although the sides are working to “reach a solution” on an extension, the team said. The 26-year-old is not expected to play in Sunday’s season-opening game against the Indianapolis Colts. Rookie Tanzel Smart will take Donald’s spot in the starting 3-4 scheme.
Donald has been absent throughout training camp and the preseason. Had he failed to report before Sunday’s game, Donald was in line to lose one game check from a contract that pays him a base salary of $1.8 million.
The 6-foot-1, 280-pound Donald has been a Pro Bowl selection in each of his three NFL seasons, playing all 48 games. In 2016, he started all 16 games and recorded 47 tackles, eight sacks, five passes defensed and two forced fumbles.
[B]–Oakland Raiders[/B] kicker Sebastian Janikowski was placed on injured reserve with a herniated disk in his back.
Janikowski, the longest-tenured player on the team, was replaced on Oakland’s 53-man active roster by Giorgio Tavecchio, who spent the past four preseasons with the team.
Janikowski, 39, reworked his contract last week to remain with the Raiders and the back injury is not a revelation to team management. He missed the final two preseason games with back soreness.
The 17th overall pick of the Raiders in the 2000 NFL Draft, Janikowski has played 268 games with Oakland — the most in franchise history. Tavecchio made 9 of 11 field-goal attempts with the Raiders during his solely preseason tenure with the team.
[B]–The Pittsburgh Steelers[/B] signed defensive end Stephon Tuitt to an extension through the 2022 season, the team announced.
The new six-year deal is worth $61 million, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Tuitt, 24, was set to make just over $1 million in base salary in 2017, the final year of his rookie contract. He would have been a free agent in 2018.
The 6-foot-6, 303-pound Tuitt, a second-round pick in 2014 out of Notre Dame, owns 108 tackles, 11.5 sacks, four pass defenses, three forced fumbles and one interception over 44 games in three seasons.
[B]–Chicago Bears[/B] defensive end Akiem Hicks signed a four-year, $48 million contract extension with $30 million guaranteed, multiple outlets reported.
Hicks, who is now under contract with the Bears through the 2021 season, signed a two-year, $10 million deal in 2016. The 27-year-old recorded a career-high seven sacks to go along with 54 tackles while starting all 16 games last season.
Hicks was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week after collecting 13 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble versus the San Francisco 49ers.
Chicago now has four of its front seven starters signed through at least 2020, including Leonard Floyd, Pernell McPhee and Danny Trevathan.
[B]–The New Orleans Saints[/B] moved quickly to find a replacement for long snapper Jon Dorenbos, who will require open heart surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm.
The Saints signed defensive lineman/long snapper Zach Wood to a contract after the team placed Dorenbos on the non-football illness list Friday with a heart condition discovered in a follow-up physical following his trade from the Philadelphia Eagles.
Wood’s agent, Mike Abadir, confirmed Wood’s signing and offered congratulations on Twitter on Friday night: “Congrats to my client LS ZachWood6 for signing w the Saints! At the same time, prayers go out to multi-talented JonDorenbos. #JonDorenbos.”
The 6-foot-3, 255-pound Wood entered the league in 2016 as an undrafted free agent out of SMU. Wood, 24, signed with the Dallas Cowboys after a successful tryout in rookie minicamp that year and spent time with the team the past two offseasons both as a long snapper and defensive lineman.
[B]–The Indianapolis Colts [/B]waived running back Matt Jones after one week and elevated guard Adam Redmond to the 53-man roster from the practice squad.
The 6-foot-2, 239-pound Jones was claimed by Indianapolis off waivers last Sunday after being cut by the Washington Redskins.
The 24-year-old Jones, a third-round pick in 2015, lost his starting job in Washington last season. He played in 20 career games (seven starts) for the Redskins, with 243 carries for 950 yards and six touchdowns. He caught 27 passes for 377 yards and one TD. He also fumbled eight times with the Redskins, losing six.
The Colts are set at running back with Frank Gore, Robert Turbin and rookie Marlon Mack heading into Sunday’s season opener against the Los Angeles Rams.