The Ferringo NFL Report
by Robert Ferringo - 09/19/2007
It's a good thing that I don't have dogs.
After Week 2's frustrating end I have to say that I'm still steaming a bit. I'm especially angry with myself for some flat out ignorant plays (New Orleans), for not trusting my initial impression on what was going to be my top play (Green Bay) and for having the brains to stay away from the heavy favorites because they've covered about 35 percent of the time over the past decade but not having the stones to go the other way and take the points. Ugh.
But on top of that, I'm still baffled by the bad beats and bizarre endings that sabotaged what I thought was a solid slate of plays. The two most noteworthy debacles occurred on my bet with Seattle over Arizona and the 'over' in the Chicago-Kansas City game. The Seahawks were about 15 yards away from automatic field goal range before that WTF fumble between Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander - two guys that were playing in the Super Bowl just 19 months ago. And in the Chicago game there was a kickoff return for a touchdown and a sweet flea-flicker touchdown that were both called back for ridiculous penalties to blow a solid 'over' play. Yes, it's Tuesday, and I'm still bitter by both beats.
But that's enough lamenting. As I mentioned, I have no one to blame for myself for not trusting some of the live dogs out there. And the only thing that's going to salvage my gambling soul is another weekend full of winners. But before we can get there, we have to take a look back at what else we noticed from the Week 2 That Was. So welcome back to the third year of the Ferringo Report here at Doc's Sports.
I have to say that between the MLB stretch run and both college and pro football I'm a bit socially retarded right now. As a result, we're going to keep to some pretty straightforward NFL observations from last week and you'll have to wait until next Tuesday for my normal wit and charm. I'm in no mood to be trifled with, and I haven't had the type of time that I normally do to flesh out some of my observations here. I promise it will be equally informative, more concise, and infinitely more entertaining next week. But in the meantime, here are some of general musings and observations from Week 2 of the NFL:
- My favorite line of the week might have been when Robert Kraft said that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was the "Custodian of the league" in an interview on NBC's Sunday Night Football. I don't think he meant to be a dick, but it sure sounded like it. You know that was a prepared statement and he could have chose any number of words.
I'm not going to get on the Belichick cheating scandal (other than to say I was chuckling when the camera caught Bill Nixon shaking hands with Shawn "If You Ain't Cheatin' You Ain't Tryin" Merriman after the game on Sunday). You've heard enough about it and have your own opinions. But I will say this about anyone (particularly Bill Simmons) who has made a comment about Eric Mangini being a "rat" or a "fink" or a "tattle-tale": If you were playing poker with some guys and you noticed someone dealing from the bottom of the deck, knowing that the guy was taking money out of your pocket, would you just sit there like an idiot or would you call him out on it?
- Let's not be too quick to call the Reggie Bush-Mario Williams 2006 Draft a win for New Orleans just yet. To this point both guys have shown themselves to be kind of soft (and in Bush's case, extremely soft) and at this moment they are on two teams going in opposite directions.
- Two new automatic plays in the NFL betting repertoire: Vince Young getting points and Jake Delhomme laying points at home. That is, unless these weren't already auto plays. I know I took advantage last week with two winners. Young is now 12-2 against the spread in his last 14 games as an underdog and Delhomme is 9-18-1 as a home favorite.
- One of the biggest regrets of my gambling career will be that I didn't trust the Patriots more during their dynasty. Since the start of the 2001 season the Patriots are an absolutely astounding 73-37-3 ATS. That's a 66.4-percent clip and if you had bet $1,000 on every one of their games you'd be up $32,000. You would also likely have one son named Tom and the other one named Brady.
- Enough with the racist claims regarding Charlie Weis and Ty Willingham at Notre Dame. How juvenile is that? Ty Willingham is a dick in person. He's a good enough guy, honest, respectable, etc., but he has all the charm of a houseplant. Weis has MULTIPLE Super Bowl rings and this year he's going to face more bowl teams (nine) than he had returning starters (eight).
- According to ESPN, 90 of the past 137 teams that started 2-0 made the playoffs that season. That's a 65.7-percent mark. Further, only 18 of 139 teams that dropped their opening two games were playing in the postseason. That's a 12.9-percent clip.
On that note, let's not get too excited about the current NFL standings. Of the "surprise" 2-0 teams I would say that Green Bay, Washington, and Houston have earned some love. Detroit, Dallas, and San Francisco have not, considering whom these teams beat and how they beat them. Also, when anyone claims that "no one saw this coming" with Houston and Washington just refer them to my NFL previews when I stated that the Texans and Redskins are my NFL sleeper teams. They are 4-0 ATS and I am 3-1 ATS betting on their games.
- The Seahawks should be ashamed of themselves for the way their offensive and defensive lines got manhandled by the Cardinals - the CARDINALS - last week. They couldn't pressure Matt Leinart and that, along with that incredible fumble, is why they lost.
- If you believe in the carryover effect from one season to another, as of right now the Packers have won six straight (5-1 ATS) dating back to last year, the Titans have won seven of nine (8-1 ATS), and the Texans have won four straight (4-0 ATS). On the flip side, New Orleans has lost five of seven (1-6 ATS), Jacksonville has lost four of five (0-5 ATS) and the Giants have dropped nine of 11 (4-7 ATS).
- The Steelers, even after their low-scoring victory over Buffalo last week, are 13-2-2 against the total in their last 17 home games dating back to 2005. I would also like to take complete and total credit for calling for a huge bounceback year from Big Ben.
- I couldn't have been less impressed with the Philadelphia secondary. And that was with Brian Dawkins, who I suspect will miss this week's game against Detroit with a neck-shoulder injury. The Eagles are in serious trouble.
- While watching the feeble Bills facing the Steelers this weekend I couldn't help but reminisce about those awful, mind-numbing, frustrating years when Dick Jauron was the head man in Chicago. I swear, it's the exact same team: injury-riddled, scrappy on defense, underwhelming on offense, and seemingly always failing on any third down that's more than three yards. In Jauron's 80 games as Chicago coach, the Bears only scored more than 24 points 18.8 percent of the time. Further, averaging 20.0 points per game would have left a team as No. 17 in the league last year. In Dick Jauron's nearly 100 games as a head coach his teams have topped that mark (21 or above) just 39 percent of the time.
- At first I thought I was just having a hard time getting used to something new, but now I've decided that I really dislike the new NFL.com setup. Their stats pages are completely inefficient and overall the site is not nearly as user-friendly or straightforward as the old one. It's very convoluted now and I really dislike it.
- Don't knock the Buffalo offensive line. What used to be a glaring weakness is now an offensive strength. But J.P. Losman is holding the ball way too long and the Bills don't have a starting wideout taller than Harry Potter.
- Tampa Bay was desperate for a win last week and they played like it. The Bucs are now 12-4 ATS as a home dog over the past several years. Also, I stand corrected about Jeff Garcia. He definitely has something left in the tank, although he's not good enough to lift this very average team into the postseason.
- In Week 1, favorites went 11-5 ATS. Then, in true sports gambling style, in Week 2 the favorites went just 4-12 ATS. They get you looking one way, then they hit from the other.
Further, favorites of 8.0 or more in Week 2 were 8-17 ATS between 1997 and 2005 before going 5-1 ATS last year. However, this season those huge chalk teams were just 1-4 ATS. That means that early season heavy favorites are just 14-22 ATS (38.8 percent) over the past 11 seasons.
- Here's a quick pro handicapping lesson:
First, you knew there were going to be a host of monster favorites coming into this week and there were, with five double-digit favorites and three other teams posted at -7. But here's the thing - the one line that you looked at and expected to be bigger, considering everything that had happened all week, was the Cincy-Cleveland game. I know it's a road divisional game, but you had to expect a double-digit line. Well, it wasn't. It started at -7 for the visitors. Well, once that line moved to -6.5 late in the week that should have been a HUGE red flag to throw your mortgage on the Browns. That's what you have to be able to recognize: shady or seemingly contradictory line movements. It's rarely that blatant in the pro game, but you have to be able to take advantage of it when it happens.
- On the flip side, I got spooked off my favorite game of the week - Green Bay over New York Giants - because I couldn't figure out why New York was favored despite injuries to their starting quarterback and running back. Instead of exploiting one of the worst lines I've seen in the past three years in the NFL, I over-thought the situation and decided to stay away.
- That New Orleans-Tampa Bay game ended on one play in the first quarter. The play was the Saints' second offensive possession. They just converted a sweet third-and-three with a savvy draw play at midfield, but Deuce McAllister somehow fumbled and after a replay review the ball went to Tampa. I turned the game off because I saw what was coming. On a related note: the Saints fumbled four times in the first half.
- Philly, New Orleans, and Seattle were all amazingly unimpressive this weekend. Those three teams all played the worst of any favorite. However, Jacksonville was the team I was most disappointed with. They should have lost to the putrid Falcons and were bailed out by some Atlanta special teams meltdowns. It's fair to say that I completely overestimated their abilities. I think they did too.
- Beware the Broncos: they've won two games on the final play against a pair of teams that will be picking in the top six slots of the NFL Draft next April. I'm underwhelmed. But I do know this: they may have won one of those games by a blowout with Jake Plummer at the helm, but they also would have lost one of them.
- It's safe to say that the Sebastian Janikowski Era needs to come to an end in Oakland. In a lot of ways, he represents a lot of what has gone horribly wrong with the Raiders organization over the last decade - squandered draft picks, wasted potential, late-game heartache, moments of overwhelming accomplishment, off-field problems, and misplaced loyalty.
- How can anyone bet on St. Louis? Since Aaron Brooks and Jim Haslett left New Orleans, there hasn't been a worse bet on a team that's always supposed to be good each season. I mean, Arizona, Oakland and Detroit are worse teams, but people expect their incompetence. The Rams are always someone's sleeper pick and they are always one of the shakiest teams in the NFL.
- Derek Anderson just threw another TD pass.
- Shaun Alexander has absolutely no heart. Watch that guy run, and watch how he dives like a 160-pound quarterback when he gets to the second level of a defense. The guy avoids contact like the plague. Watch him, and then watch Marion Barber run and you'll get an idea of why these teams are headed in opposite directions.
- The Bears are averaging 3.7 yards per play and have two touchdowns: one by an offensive lineman and one on a punt return. However, Love Smith is so ignorant and stubborn that he won't admit that he's made a gruesome mistake. Must be a Texas thing. The shame of it is that he's wasting a Super Bowl team on a guy who is not an NFL quarterback.
- Minnesota has 11 TDs on defense over the past three years, most in the league. Is there a more underrated defense? However, they now may be riding the Tav Jackson train due to a groin injury.
- At this point, 14 teams have fumbled the ball four or more times, and four teams have fumbled the ball six or more times. St. Louis has lost all five of their fumbles, and the Bears have lost four of five.
- Once again, the Jaguars couldn't run the ball. After a 29-yard gain on their first carry they managed just 84 yards on 33 carries (2.5 ypc). They are really missing center Brad Meester.
- The NFC is still a mess. Only one playoff team from last year has a winning record (Dallas) and both of their wins have come against winless foes. As for the rest of last year's NFC playoff crew, the group is a combined 2-8 SU and 1-9 ATS.
Also, if you want your AFC vs. NFC update, thus far the AFC is just 4-3-1 ATS against their counterparts. That's a notable improvement for a league that's dropped over 60 percent of its interconference tilts over the past three years.
For more information about Robert's member's picks, check out his Insider Page here.