Monday Morning Couch Potato: NFL Week 1/NCAA Week 2 Betting Recap
by Alan Matthews - 9/12/2011
Welcome to the Monday morning coach potato, a recap of the football weekend that was. Why the title? Everyone does “Monday morning quarterback” so what fun is that? I’m not a quarterback and I simply sat on the couch and watched as much football as humanly possible over the weekend. So that title seems more apt.
Here, then, are five things that stood out to me over the weekend.
--Notre Dame is poorly coached: The Irish were three-point favorites heading into the first night game in the Big House despite coming off a home loss to South Florida. And that line looked solid for a while as the Irish really did dominate Michigan for about three quarters. But it’s clear that coach Brian Kelly needs to work on three things: 1) Turnovers; 2) Penalties; and 3) Having his defensive backs actually look for the ball.
Have you ever seen anything like what UM’s Denard Robinson did? He literally just threw up the ball on about every play in Michigan’s rally and every time the Wolverines receiver would come down with the ball. The guy had 11 completions but 338 yards passing and four touchdowns.
Still, I would say don’t be fooled yet by either team. Yes, Michigan is 2-0 (and ATS) but the Wolverines have been pushed around in both games. And while the Irish are 0-2 (and ATS) they have had no problems moving the ball. The Irish simply won’t turn the ball over five times in every game so you might get some good betting value on them for a few weeks – for example, they opened as three-point home dogs this week to Michigan State.
--The Big Ten isn’t very good: Yes, Michigan got that miracle win. And Michigan State stomped a bad Florida Atlantic team. Ditto for Wisconsin (which does look awesome so far) against what is clearly a down Oregon State team. But Iowa, as a 9.5-point favorite, allowed 44 points to a mediocre-at-best Iowa State team in losing in overtime. Minnesota was a 23-point favorite over New Mexico State and lost, 28-21, at home. Purdue was -2 at Rice and lost, 24-22. Indiana actually did cover at home vs. Virginia, but still lost to one of the ACC’s worst teams. Ohio State (-17.5) could have well lost its first game ever to a MAC team. And Penn State (+10) was utterly dominated by Alabama for the second straight year.
I recommend leaning against Big Ten teams in their final few nonconference games.
--The Packers look insanely good: The NFL season kicked off in epic style with Green Bay’s 42-34 win over New Orleans (+4.5) on Thursday night in a matchup of the past two Super Bowl winners. One of Green Bay’s weaknesses last year was in the kick-return game, and rookie Randall Cobb brought one back from 108 yards in that one – not to mention also scoring on a reception.
That offense that mostly diced Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl looks that much better with Ryan Grant and Jermichael Finley back. But is there reason to worry about a defense that was shredded by Drew Brees? I would say no. And it shouldn’t have been a shock that New Orleans was stuffed on the goal line on the game’s final play. Last season, the Saints finished as the worst rushing team in the NFL against short-yardage defenses.
--The Colts look insanely bad: Peyton Manning doesn’t play defense, right? Once No. 18 went out, the Colts dropped to nine-point dogs at Houston and they looked like dogs in losing, 34-7. And the Texans didn’t even have Arian Foster, last season’s NFL rushing leader. The Indy offense mustered only 236 yards and 15 first downs against Houston's 3-4 defense guided by new coordinator Wade Phillips.
Only one other time in the last 10 seasons (regular season) had the Colts been held to seven points or fewer. That was Jan. 3, 2010 (Week 17) when they lost 30-7 to the Bills. Manning played just three series in that game, which meant nothing to Indy.
I caution reading too much into this result, however. The Colts were probably a little thunderstruck that Manning wasn’t in there. They will probably be undervalued now for a while – for example the Colts opened as one-point home dogs to Cleveland for Week 2. Jump on that.
--The Chiefs look worse: My personal opinion on a team likely to take a step back this year was the Kansas City Chiefs, and probably no club looked worse in Week 1. K.C. was crushed as a 3.5-point home favorite by Buffalo, 41-7. It was the most lopsided season-opening loss in Chiefs history and their worst home loss since a 45-0 defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers 35 years ago.
K.C. rushed for only 108 yards against the NFL’s worst run defense a year ago. Matt Cassel threw 36 times and still managed only 119 yards. And therein lies the problem with the Chiefs in that teams are going to gear up to stop Jamaal Charles and the running game because Kansas City doesn’t have any major threats in the passing game to stretch the field other than Dwayne Bowe.
You may want to bet against the Chiefs when they are at home (at Detroit this week and already +9). They have lost their last three home games, including playoffs, by 34, 23 and 21 points, respectively.
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