AFC betting notes: Week 2 roundup
AFC betting notes: Week 2 roundup
AFC betting notes: Week 2 roundup
By TED SEVRANSKY
Teddy’s AFC Tidbits
Welcome to Teddy’s weekly look at the NFL. Teddy spends every Sunday typing furiously at his laptop as he watches the games, giving you the key info that the box scores and game recaps simply don’t have. This week: AFC tidbits from around the league.
What on earth has happened to this offensive line? The same group has been together for years, and has basically been an above average unit. Not any more. At least Chris Perry is a dramatic upgrade over the departed Rudi Johnson – Perry is the much more explosive back at this stage of his career, and he’s fresh after essentially missing the last two seasons due to injury concerns. Still, I’m not sure which unit is worse – the struggling offense loaded with skill position talent, or the defense that couldn’t stop Baltimore last week and couldn’t stop Tennessee this time around. Huge injury to starting cornerback Jonathan Joseph who came limping off the field, one of the few defensive bright spots this season – check his status, because this pass defense will struggle mightily without him.
This offense is designed for one thing and one thing only, even though I’ll describe it using three phrases – keep the chains moving, stay out of third and longs, and keep the playmaking defense fresh. The key is the middle of three – stay out of third and long. The thing that was most impressive about this victory was their poise and execution trailing on the road in the fourth quarter. Trent Edwards was flawless guiding the Bills down the field for the game winning touchdown, a real confidence inspiring victory for an emerging young team.
18 new players on the 45 man roster, three rookies starting on offense alone last week – this is a very young team. But this offense is absolutely on fire to open the season. Four punts (zero three and outs), no turnovers and twelve scoring drives through their first six quarters of the season – now that’s an impressive ratio. Real questions persist about the Broncos defense – this is a dead nuts Over team at this stage of the season.
Last week, the Panthers moved the ball virtually at will against this defense, having tremendous success through the air in particular. Here against Denver, it was more of the same – a pass defense that wasn’t generating pressure and wasn’t covering receivers downfield. The talent level is here even without Shawn Merriman – I’ve got to blame the scheme here, a Ted Cottrell problem. And, with the game on the line in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter, Cottrell did exactly what he did last week, eschewing the blitz and dropping back into coverage, both on the final fourth down play and the subsequent two point conversion. The end result? Two losses in games they should have won each time.
This offensive line is absolutely horrific. Rookie left tackle Brandon Alberts, in particular, is most assuredly not ready for prime time. Five sacks allowed, 34 yards rushing on 17 carries by the running backs. And with Herm Edwards rotating three quarterbacks –Tyler Thigpen saw the majority of action this week – it’s virtually impossible for this struggling offense to develop any sort of rhythm. Nobody is getting enough reps in practice; nobody establishes any type of chemistry with their receivers. At least they have a great punter in Dustin Colquitt. There’s a fair amount of talent here on the defensive side of the football, which makes the 300 rushing yards allowed that much more embarrassing.
Even with eight men in the box, completely selling out to stop the run, Indy struggled to stop the power rushing game. And with left tackle Tony Ugoh going down with an injury in the first half, Steve Justice, Jamie Richard and Daniel Federkeil are now manning the interior of the offensive line. No wonder this team can’t run the football! Yes, the Colts gave up chunks of yardage against the run (just like they did in their Super Bowl season), but this defense really stiffened when they had to, stepping up in the red zone extremely well. And Peyton Manning deserves every accolade he gets for guiding this team from 15 points down on the road to earn the victory, truly an impressive performance from the league’s best offensive player.
This team has enormous receivers. Marcedes Lewis, Matt Jones and Reggie Williams all stand 6’4” or taller. It’s hard to overthrow this trio, and equally hard for the vast majority of NFL cornerbacks to cover them. Too bad none of the three seem to have good hands. Jones, in particular, didn’t show a lot of effort to nab ‘catchable’ balls. And with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, David Garrard couldn’t get anything going with the passing game, bad news on a day where their running game was largely stifled.
Brett Favre clearly showed the effects of not having a full training camp to work with this offense in this ballgame. Favre seems to have little chemistry with his receiving corps, unable to make the big throws on the fly that have characterized his career. The Jets rebuilt offensive line really struggled in short yardage situations – this team couldn’t get a tough yard in between the tackles. And the special teams performance was downright horrific. They couldn’t cover punts, couldn’t cover kicks and Jay Feely missed a crucial early field goal. This has the potential to be a real problem area – the Jets started every drive of the game from inside their own 25 yard line, while the Pats started five drives from inside Jets territory. I’m really starting to dislike Brian Schottenheimer’s play calling – a suspect secondary and a quarterback with a big arm, yet the Jets weren’t taking shots downfield.
New England executed a brilliant offensive gameplan, mixing power rushing and quick passing from Matt Cassel to keep the chains moving all afternoon. Without Tom Brady, the downfield passing game isn’t what it was last year, but this team was prepped and ready to roll, a testament to the coaching staff. And, for all the weakness this team has showed in their secondary, they’ve done one thing extremely well through the first two weeks – they protect the goal line. Their stellar goal line defense was the difference between victory and defeat last week; this week they were tremendous defensively inside the red zone once again, stuffing the Jets three times from inside the two yard line to force a field goal.
This defense looks significantly better than they did on Monday Night, getting pressure at the line of scrimmage. JaMarcus Russell, however, looks just as bad this time around – he simply is not seeing the field very well, nor is he making good quick decisions. Russell stares down his receivers, holds the ball too long, has terrible footwork, and equally terrible accuracy. Right now, Russell might be the single worst starting quarterback in the NFL. We did see lots of promise from Darren McFadden, the Raiders other big name youngster. McFadden looked did put the ball on the turf twice, the type of miscue that tends to haunt teams like the Raiders. I was surprised that McFadden wasn’t able to outrun the defense on the one big play where he broke away from the line of scrimmage – he got caught from behind.
Rookie RB Chris Johnson earned the single fastest time in the history of the NFL combine, running a 4.2 forty yard dash. Lendale White was also a very highly regarded high draft choice out of USC. But between the two of them, we aren’t seeing anything resembling a big play – this offense defines the word ‘pedestrian’, completely lacking big play capability whether Vince Young or Kerry Collins starts behind center. At least with Collins they have some sort of a downfield passing game, better than the dinks and dunks that have characterized the last three years with Young behind center. And no team in the NFL is better at ‘winning ugly’ than Jeff Fisher’s Titans.