Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, September 18, 2011 at 9:20 AM
Here's a strange-but-true factoid as we head into the National Football League Week #2 card ...
There are only four NFL games (out of 16, of course) that pit teams with winning records against one another on this third Sunday in September - that's Oakland at Buffalo, Jacksonville at the New York Jets, Arizona at Washington and San Diego at New England.
Now here's another:
Only half of last year's dozen NFL Playoff teams came out winners in Week #1 as the likes of Atlanta, Indianapolis, Kansas City, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Seattle all tumbled right out of the starting gate and - come to think of it - isn't it funny how fates/fortunes can change in a relative heartbeat as it was just two years back when the New Orleans Saints started off 13-0 SU (straight-up) en route to a Super Bowl title while the then-led Peyton Manning Indy Colts started off the 2009 campaign at 14-0 SU before finally stubbing their collective toe in the S-Bowl.
Now here's both of 'em looking to avoid an 0-2 SU start in 2011!
Okay, so that's one reason why he highlight the Saints here in today's Jim Sez as - according to our calculations - they are one of three NFL teams that sure enough consider this "must-win Sunday" even if it's just the second week of play.
We've added the aforementioned Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys to this short list here.
Enjoy ... and now hear this:
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Now, here are Sunday afternoon's "must-win" subjects - the Saints, Steelers and Cowboys:
CHICAGO (1-0) at NEW ORLEANS - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Were the aforementioned 2009 N'Orleans Saints just "one-year wonders"? Okay, so you're allowed to think that after last year's one-and-done NFC Wild Card Playoff loss in Seattle and this year's 42-34 Week #1 setback in Green Bay - a game in which the Saints' defense didn't stop a soul and that included poor tackling, bad pass coverage and blown assignments all over the joint. If New Orleans wishes to square its 2011 record and get back into the swing of things here, than that stop unit better get in gear.
There was nothing wrong with the Saints' offense in G-Bay as QB Drew Brees (419 yards passing and 3 TDs) powered the NFC South team to a 477-yard total output but remember no WR Marques Colston (broken collar bone) here or for the foreseeable future but look for Brees to target oncoming star TE Jimmy Graham here and especially if the Saints can get Graham matched up against one of Chicago's less-speedy LBs and that could mean picking on grief-stricken 'backer Brian Urlacher.
Spread Notes - New Orleans is 8-17-1 ATS (against the spread) overall dating back to late in the 2009 Super Bowl season and did you know that the Saints are 5-10-1 ATS as betting favorites since late '09?
SEATTLE (0-1) at PITTSBURGH (0-1) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS
It's not like the Pittsburgh Steelers to enter an NFL season all fat and complacent but the fact of the matter is the defending AFC champions did not make a whole lot of personnel moves in this lockout-affected off-season and did not appear real hungry in last week's 35-7 loss in Baltimore.
The Steelers committed seven turnovers in suffering their worst loss in 14 years and - even though they're listed as solid two-TD betting favorites for this clash at Heinz Field - there is some question as to whether Pittsburgh's already-tattered offensive line can hold up for an entire season (note that RT Willie Colon was placed on IR with a torn triceps muscle).
The upset-minded Seahawks - who surrendered a pair of last-game special team returns for touchdowns against San Fran's Ted Ginn Jr. last week - need QB Tarvaris Jackson to steer clear of hard-charging LB James Harrison and move the chains with some third-down runs/scrambles. If Jackson can rush for 50-plus yards here and/or keep Seattle's offense on the field for long periods of time than the Steelers likely won't be able to swat the Seahawks into submission despite that bloated pointspread.
Spread Notes - Pittsburgh covered 7-of-10 home games last year en route to the team's third Super Bowl appearance in the past six years and the Steelers are a collective 2-5 versus the vig as twin-figure betting favorites dating back to the start of 2009.
DALLAS (0-1) at SAN FRANCISCO (1-0) - 4:05 p.m. ET, Fox
Sure, the Cowboys have won only one playoff game in the last 15 years (see 34-14 triumph over Philadelphia two years ago) but just the general mindset is that Dallas is a perennial playoff team or contender and yet a loss here at Candlestick Park could have "America's Team" - and their oft-annoying fan base - in a real tizzy here.
Last Sunday Nite's painful 27-24 loss to the 6 ½-point favored New York Jets had Cowboys fans reaching for the hard stuff this week but no time to look back now and so QB Tony Romo (see fourth-quarter lost fumble and late-game pick) must spread the wealth here but WR Dez Bryant could be far less than 100 percent healthy - he missed Wednesday's practice after suffering a thigh injury and that means TE Jason Witten (6 catches for 110 against the Jets) might have to be an occasional deep threat here.
One note on the Niners: RB Frank Gore (22 carries for just 59 yards rushing in last Sunday's 33-17 win/cover versus 6-point dog Seattle) showed major rust after coming back from last season's year-ending hip injury - if 25 carries doesn't net him at least 110 yards here than San Fran's going down!
Spread Notes - Dallas is a money-toasting 11-18 versus the vig away while tracing back to late in the 2008 season and note the 'Boys have failed to cover seven of their eight games when placed in the road favorite's role? Yikes!
NFL SUNDAY NITE PREVIEW
PHILADELPHIA (1-0) at ATLANTA (0-1) – 8:25 p.m. ET, NBC
Let's just say the 'over/under' count on how many times the NBC-TV cameras show former Atlanta Falcons-now-current-Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick is probably in the 'hundreds' here as these media guys can't get enough of Vick vs. old team here.
Still, while everyone's checking out that angle, how about what Falcons QB Matt Ryan does – last week was not his finest hour as Chicago slammed Atlanta 30-12 as Ryan didn't throw a single touchdown pass but winged one interception. If Ryan here cannot get the ball in the hands of long-time Vick friend WR Roddy White, than it could be a long night for the home team.
Spread Notes – Since the start of the 2009 season, Philadelphia is a rock-solid 8-4 ATS (against the spread) in its last dozen pointspread decisions when in a position of laying road points and that includes last Sunday's efficient 31-13 win at 4-point home pup St. Louis. The Eagles are 5-2 ATS in head-to-head spread verdicts against Atlanta since the '03 season and that includes the 27-10 win/cover as 5 ½-point favorites in the 2004 NFC Championship Game. On the flip side, Atlanta's covered 16 of its 25 games at home since the start of the Mike Smith Era back in 2008 and note the Falcons are 21-12 vig-wise when playing non-NFC South teams during this very same time period.
One final note here heading into NFL Week #2:
Last week 'totals' players witnessed a one-sided weekend as 'over' bettors cranked out a 12-3-1 ATS mark. Will the 'under' bettors have their day in the sun in Week #2 … we shall see. Here's the game-by-game results totals-wise of the NFL Week 31 games:
| WEEK #1 MATCHUPS |
| LAS VEGAS |
| ACTUAL TOTAL POINTS |
|New Orleans at Green Bay||47.5||76 (+ 28.5)|
|Pittsburgh at Baltimore||37||42 (+5)|
|Detroit at Tampa Bay||44||47 (+3)|
|Atlanta at Chicago||41||42 (+1)|
|Buffalo at Kansas City||39||48 (+9)|
|Indianapolis at Houston||44||41 (-3)|
|Philadelphia at St. Louis||44||44 (0)|
|Cincinnati at Cleveland||36.5||44 (+7.5)|
|Tennessee at Jacksonville||38||30 (-8)|
|NY Giants at Washington||41||42 (+1)|
|Carolina at Arizona||37.5||49 (+11.5)|
|Seattle at San Francisco||38||50 (+12)|
|Minnesota at San Diego||44.5||41 (-3.5)|
|Dallas at NY Jets||41||51 (+10)|
|New England at Miami||46.5||62 (+15.5)|
|Oakland at Denver||42.5||43 (+0.5)|
NOTE: Get our NFL Week #2 wrap-up report plus the Monday Night Football Preview – that's the St. Louis at the New York Giants – in the next edition of Jim Sez.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S 'ROAD TEST WEEKEND'
IS A THUMBS-UP SATURDAY FOR
#1 OKLAHOMA AND 'GOOD BUDDY' TEXAS …
EXTRA, EXTRA …
MORE NFL WEEK #2 GOODIES AS
WE PREVIEW SUNDAY NIGHT TILT
BETWEEN MICHAEL VICK & THE EAGLES VS. THE
FALCONS IN ATLANTA …
THE NFL TOTALS QUESTION:
WILL 'OVER' PLAYERS ROMP AGAIN HERE IN WEEK #2?
The College kids are alright …At least they were from #1 Oklahoma and #23 Texas when packing a bag on Saturday as the 'Road Test Weekend' featured a slew of high-profile teams that were away from home and yet that didn't stop the Sooners or the Longhorns from striking up a key early-season winning pose.
First things first and that means a few words about the first team in College Football right now:
The Oklahoma Sooners were – without a doubt – given a nice little scare in sold-out Tallahassee last night but even a third-and-28 play that resulted in a Florida State game-tying touchdown didn't rattle Bob Stoops' crew. Oklahoma's athletic WR Kenny Stills hauled in a high-flying 37-yard touchdown pass from Heisman Trophy candidate QB Landry Jones with 7 minutes left in the game and than OU's defense did the rest against a backup quarterback for the Sems and so #1 left the Sunshine State with an impressive win/cover as 3 ½-point favorites but the question looms could the Sooners have won this game if forced to face Florida State slinger EJ Manuel (left shoulder injury) in the game's final 20 minutes … we'll never know.
As far as Oklahoma's 'good buddy' – the Texas Longhorns – they delivered big-time as 4-point road favorites in Pasadena as the dual-quarterback look of Case McCoy and David Ash won out in a 49-20 triumph against struggling UCLA. The younger McCoy threw for 168 yards and two TDs in his first-ever career start while Ash kicked in three completions in three pass attempts while serving as '1A' to McCoy '1'.
Meanwhile, things didn't go quite so well for some other road teams including #15 Michigan State (a no-doubt-about-it 31-13 loser at Notre Dame) or Big 10 playmate #17 Ohio State (a definitive 24-6 loser at 2 ½-point home fav Miami). Let's just both of these guys 'failed' their Road Test Weekend but the day's biggest road loser was defending national champion Auburn who blew a 14-0 lead en route to a 38-24 loss at Clemson.
Guess playing with fire all these weeks finally did catch up to Auburn who still has road tilts left at South Carolina, at Arkansas, at LSU and at Georgia … awww, the War Eagle gang wasn't gonna win another national crown anyway!
Lots more to say about the just-completed College Football weekend in the next edition of Jim