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Edge for football defenses fading away

Sep 23, 2008 7:06 PM

Feist Facts by Jim Feist | In September itís more likely that defenses are ahead of the offenses in pro and college football. This might not seem the case when you watch the Packers roll up 48 on the Lions, or Oklahoma put up 55 at Washington.

Donít forget that offenses arenít in midseason form yet. The Colts were expected to come firing out of the gate with their high powered offense healthy after an injury-plagued 2007 season. Yet, the Colts averaged 15 points the first two games. Offenses generally take some time to get rolling.

In fact, the first week of the NFL season the under held the edge 9-7, following a 2007 opening week when it was 11-5. This is nothing new. In 2006, the under was 11-5 in Week 1. Preseason doesnít offer much time to practice as coaches are more concerned with keeping starters healthy than getting the offense finely tuned.

Coltsí QB Peyton Manning didnít even play in preseason while recovering from offseason surgery, so his slower than normal start should not be a shock. All of which makes another interesting year for sports bettors who play totals.

Two seasons ago, the over had a slight edge of 25-19-1 in Weeks 3-4. Part of it is that oddsmakers adjust their lines based on what happened the previous week, but also offenses begin to mesh together better.

Another factor to keep in mind is that the NFL changed the rules a few years to aid the offense, outlawing the "horse collar tackle." The league also enforced the 5-yard rule, which was designed to help wide receivers get downfield faster.

A year ago the Browns had all kinds of offensive line problems and averaged just 221 total yards at home against the Steelers in Week 1, merely 2.9 yards per rush. By midseason they were a dynamite offensive team, going on a 9-0-1 over the total run.

The biggest offensive disappointment has been the Jacksonville Jaguars. They were a potent offense in 2007 under first year offense coordinator Dirk Koetter, but struggled badly the first two weeks of 2008. They had 189 yards and 10 points against Tennessee and 243 yards and 16 points against the Bills.

Perhaps patience is best. A year ago in the opener, the Jaguars scored just 10 points in the opener against a Tennessee defense that was dead last in the league in 2006.

Jacksonville soon got a lot better on offense. After starting 4-2 under the total, the Jags ended last season with 12 straight games over. Keep a close tab on yardage and totals in September and early October.

Scoring and unders can rule early in the season, but that can change when the offenses begin to get more in sync.