The opening week of the 2013 season produced both high drama and some very impressive performances.
It started off last Thursday when Peyton Manning tossed a record tying seven TD passes as Denver opened up a close game against defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore in a 49-27 win, which has many observers proclaiming the 2013 Broncos could be one of the most potent offenses of all time.
Not so fast, of course, but a message was sent that we can expect big things from the Denver offense with Manning now in his second season behind center.
Many factors contributed to higher than usual totals lines being posted with much of the speculation related to the decrease in practice time during the preseason and the more restrictive rules placed on defenders as it relates to tackling to avoid concussions to the offensive player.
Yet 8 of the 14 games played through Sunday night stayed UNDER the total with 6 going OVER. Both of the standalone games went OVER – the Thursday night opener and the Sunday night game between Dallas and the Giants.
Home favorites were 5-4-1 ATS (against the spread) and road favorites were 2-2 ATS.
Several games saw significant pointspread movements as game day and kick off times approached. Moves toward Tennessee and Arizona were successful but similar moves toward Baltimore, Cleveland and Indianapolis were not.
There were some great individual performances to open the season, including Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson running for a 78 yard touchdown on the first play of their game against Detroit. In the same game Lions’ RB Reggie Bush had a very strong debut with his new team.
In addition to Manning’s spectacular game against the Ravens, San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick threw for over 400 yards in the Niners’ win over Green Bay and even Manning’s little brother Eli put up some big stats in the Giants’ loss to Dallas. Somewhat offsetting Eli’s 4 TD passes were his 3 INTs.
The NFL is unique among major sports in that its season consists of just 16 games, which attaches great importance to each and every game. Teams cannot afford to take games off as is often the case in the sports of baseball and basketball, which play much longer schedules.
Often one or two plays in the course of a season that turn victory into defeat or vice versa mean the difference between making and missing the playoffs. There is often little difference between a 9-7 team and one that is 7-9. The same can often be said about the difference between 10-6 and 6-10.
The key to successful handicapping is finding those undervalued 6-10 teams and the overrated 10-6 teams. And, most important of all, while we should never overreact to what we have seen most recently, we should also not fail to react either.
A problem that often occurs is that in our efforts to avoid an overreaction we fail to take note of important factors in a team’s most recent game that may indeed play a part in that team’s upcoming games.
Again, the goal is to achieve objective balance in assessing each team, its opponent and the prospects for what might occur in the next game.
Here’s a look at Week 2
Jets +13 at Patriots (44): The talent gap between these teams remains great and New England coach Belichick has made well known his disdain for the New York Jets franchise. PATRIOTS.
Chargers (NL) at Eagles: Both teams played on Monday night and the Chargers have to make the cross country trip. The Eagles, running the up tempo offense installed by new coach Chip Kelly, have the much greater upside. EAGLES.
Browns +6½ at Ravens (43½): Ravens may rely much more on RB Ray Rice to lead the running game and to catch short passes from QB Joe Flacco. The Browns have their own workhorse RB in Trent Richardson with a passing game that will not present anything resembling the Denver attack. UNDER.
Titans +8½ at Texans: The Titans have a decent ground game but a modest passing game back behind QB Jake Locker. Houston does have an above average defense and this game handicaps as one of the lower scoring games of Week 2. UNDER.
Dolphins +3 at Colts (42½): The situation favors the hosts who are playing a second straight home game whereas Miami plays a second straight road game to open the season. Indy also has the edge at QB, which suggests laying a FG can be justified. COLTS.
Panthers -3 at Bills (44½): Buffalo getting points at home for a second straight week is attractive, especially after covering and nearly winning the first such game against a better foe. BILLS.
Rams +7 at Falcons (47): Much is made of a team’s chances of making the playoffs after starting 0-2 but that’s the position Atlanta could be in if they lose here. Atlanta has too many options on offense for the still maturing Rams defense to contain. FALCONS.
Redskins (NL) at Packers: Washington is off of Monday night’s game against Division rival Philadelphia. The Redskins have the better defense, which could make them an attractive underdog. But that temptation is compromised by the Packers seeking to avoid an 0-2 start. OVER.
Cowboys (NL) at Chiefs (46½): Right now the KC defense has the edge but Dallas should show significant improvement as the season progresses. This is Kansas City’s home opener while the Cowboys’ take to the road after their national TV appearance. CHIEFS.
Vikings +6½ at Bears (41): The threat of Adrian Peterson breaking a big run at any time makes the Vikes a dangerous foe and an attractive underdog in this key early season Divisional game. VIKINGS.
Saints -3 at Bucs (46½): While It might be tempting to make a case for the home underdog there is a significant gap in talent, especially on offense. The Saints can be aggressive on defense because of its potent, quick strike offense, and the Bucs are not well equipped to play from behind. SAINTS.
Lions PK at Cards (47): The conditions favor the hosts with the desert heat a possible concern for Detroit. Arizona does enjoy fundamental edges on defense and that should be the determining factor in this game. CARDS.
Jaguars +5½ at Raiders (39): It’s dangerous to lay significant points with a weak team but as bad as both of these teams appear to be, there are more reasons to suggest the Raiders have the greater upside while Jacksonville should be every bit as bad as they showed last week. UNDER.
Broncos -4 at Giants (55½): The Giants are a much better team than they showed against Dallas, with a strong history of rebounding following a poor performance. Would a Giants win really be considered an upset? GIANTS.
49ers +3 at Seahawks (44½): The Seahawks gave a late season 42-13 spanking to SF, a game that did not sit well with intense 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. Add in the rivalry with Seattle coach Pete Carroll, which dates back to their college days in the Pac 10, and this has the makings of an intense battle. One in which the points are most attractive. 49ERS.
Steelers +6½ at Bengals (40½): Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin is old school and he and his staff will have made sufficient adjustments during the week or preparation to compensate for last week’s shortcomings. While not prepared to forecast an outright upset, that line of a FG seems to have been the right line. STEELERS.
Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Contact Andy at [email protected]