The predominant theme for me coming out of the first Sunday of NFL action was the lower scoring nature of Week 1 and some absolutely horrendous QB and offensive line play seemingly across the board.
Unders were 10-2 on Sunday and the reasons for it were very evident. Many skill position players including QB’s, RB’s and WR’s had limited playing time in game action during the preseason and that likely led to quite a bit of the lack of rhythm we saw with the majority of NFL offenses in Week 1 on Sunday.
We also had a very mediocre crop of QB’s playing behind very suspect offensive lines in many of the settings that took place. Houston’s offensive line was horrendous yielding 10 sacks to Jacksonville and not giving Tom Savage or DeShaun Watson much of an opportunity to make plays down the field throwing the football. Green Bay and Seattle had struggles all day long from their offensive line units in what turned out to be a very low scoring duel 17-9 despite two of the better QB’s in the league going head-to-head in Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers.
Arizona with Carson Palmer, NY Jets with Josh McCown, San Francisco with Brian Hoyer, Indianapolis with Scott Tolzien and the NY Giants with Eli Manning all had dismal performances on the offensive side of the football as well. All of those teams I mentioned above with the exception of Green Bay were one of the bottom 7 teams in the NFL on Sunday in terms of total yardage gained on offense.
The question that needs to be asked is whether Sunday’s 10-2 Under run is just a blip on the radar or a sign of the times? It could be the latter. QB play is getting worse not better in the NFL as the majority of the younger crop of QB’s are developing slowly if at all. Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden, E.J. Manuel, Geno Smith, Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel are all examples of early round draft pick QB’s in recent years that have simply not panned out.
Offensive lines in the NFL are simply not as good at this point in time because more players being drafted out of College are less and less prepared to be solid and stout offensive linemen in Pro Football due to the stark differences in offensive scheme, technique and philosophy being implemented in College Football compared to the NFL.
It’s unwise to overreact to one single week of action in any circumstance but this is a situation worth monitoring and evaluating in the coming weeks because I get a sense the pattern of low scoring and pedestrian offensive outputs may not be through. There may be value in regards to totals to continue cashing in betting Unders in the NFL in the weeks ahead because the issues with the stunting of offensive growth for teams with their younger players is a very real one IMO.
Turning to the College Football ranks, we have seen our share of good, bad and ugly in relation to so many teams across the landscape. There may not be a more disastrous and ugly situation in the bunch than what is going on down in Waco, Texas involving the Baylor Bears. Baylor has started the season 0-2 SU and ATS and have lost games outright to Liberty and Texas-San Antonio in which they were favored by a combined 46 points.
Matt Rhule left Temple for a bigger program but he has a very real nightmare situation on his hands trying to clean up the mess left behind by Art Briles and the rape scandal that rocked the program. Baylor has lost many scholarships and their recruiting levels have declined sharply in the last year or so. The offense is undergoing a scheme change going more deliberate and balanced from the uptempo offense that was a staple of Baylor Football under Art Briles.
The defense lacks talent and depth and that stop unit gave up almost 500 passing yards to Baylor in their first game. In their second game against UTSA, their offense was the problem as they were unable to sustain drives and finish them with TD’s. Baylor has lost to the pointspread by a combined 56 points ATS in their first two games. There was some sentiment among some colleagues of mine heading into last weekend that Baylor would fight back in a big way after that Week 1 loss to Liberty.
I was not one of those people. This is a program that is on its way
to rock bottom sooner rather than later and when you are losing to the spread by 56 points in two games combined, the betting markets clearly have come nowhere close to pricing the Baylor situation correctly as of yet.
Buffalo, Tulane and Purdue are three teams worth mentioning as well. All three teams are 2-0 ATS to begin the season. These have been bottom tier programs in College Football for multiple seasons in the span of the last 3-5 years but all three of them had been devalued significantly by the betting markets entering the season and now with their improved and more competitive play on the field, there may yet be chances and opportunities to back them in the weeks ahead.
Buffalo has played solid and stingy defense against Minnesota and Army in the first two weeks keeping them in both contests while dual threat QB Tyree Jackson has shown progress under center. The Bulls may be an under the radar ATS squad to watch for as they look to take a step forward in Year 3 for head coach Lance Leipold at Buffalo.
Tulane’s previously dormant football program has had new life breathed into it by head coach Willie Fritz who is in his second year with the team and continues to gather momentum and the Green Wave’s triple option attack on offense combined with a very underrated defense had them taking a good Navy squad down to the wire last week while cashing wire-to-wire as a double digit dog.
Purdue under Jeff Brohm has already shown plenty of positive signs. Brohm is known for being great at working with and developing QB’s and David Blough in particular is already progressing under Brohm’s tutelage. Blough has thrown 5 TD’s for over 400 passing yards and a 74% completion rate in Purdue’s first two games. The Purdue defense which has been a sieve for years has also stepped up their game a bit.
There is still a ways to go before they can be called a good defense but the Boilers did step up on more than one occasion on that side of the ball against both Louisville and Ohio. I think Purdue’s 2-0 ATS start may not be a fluke. This is a team on the uptick. They finally made a good hire at head coach after the disastrous Darrell Hazell era and the Boilers may only be starting to get their engine revved up at home.
Ian Cameron has been handicapping and betting sports year-round for over a decade. He has been with Sportsmemo.com since 2012, using his knowledge and handicapping techniques to make insightful winning selections