Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, September 8, 2013 at 7:00 PM
The intense “Fast Break Football” approach mastered at the college level by Chip Kelly of Oregon is either going to take over the NFL by storm…or it’s going to show why the approach can’t possibly work at the professional level. Exhibit A in the debate will come Monday Night when Kelly and his Philadelphia Eagles take on the Washington Redskins in a huge NFC East battle.
We’ve seen speeded up football for years in the NFL. The two-minute drill goes back forever. Turning the two-minute drill into your normal offense has been approximated by Tom Brady and Peyton Manning for much of their careers. What’s different about Kelly’s approach is that he’s asking his quarterback to RUN the ball in addition to throwing it. And, he’s really emphasizing playing QUICKLY so that the opposing defense runs out of gas in the fourth quarter.
If it works…then “Eagles and Over” is going to make a lot of money for backers this year. But…if playing that fast just leads to zillions of mistakes by your own team…a team that had big turnover troubles the year before at a slower pace…then “Opponents and Over” is going to cash in quite a bit. And, if Vick suffers an injury on one of his runs…who knows what’s going to happen with backups that aren’t particularly well-suited to this style?
During the Preseason, Philadelphia had a lot of yardage, and a lot of turnovers. You can see why this style is so dangerous when it’s hitting on all cylinders. If it rarely hits on all cylinders, what’s the point.
A lot for handicappers to think about as they ponder the first Monday Night game of the season. Let’s provide a quick backdrop for the Eagles tradition, while reminding everyone why the Redskins were a playoff team in 2013.
Philadelphia: 4-12, -24 turnovers, #7 ranked schedule
Washington: 10-6, +17 turnovers, #11 ranked schedule
See what we mean about turnover troubles?! You’re going to ask THAT team to play faster?! Washington was very conservative last year with rookie quarterback RGIII. That allowed them to win the risk/reward elements while sneaking into the playoffs. Let’s check the other indicator stats to see if they were as good as that 10-6 record suggests.
Philadelphia: 5.3 on offense, 5.5 on defense
Washington: 6.2 on offense, 5.9 on defense
That’s at least Wildcard caliber in terms of YPP differential. Washington was on the right size of zero while also winning turnovers. Philadelphia wasn’t as bad as that 4-12 record would have suggested. They were basically a 7-9 caliber team that posted a worse record because of all the turnovers.
Third Down Conversions
Philadelphia: 37% on offense, 41% on defense
Washington: 36% on offense, 44% on defense
Big troubles here…particularly on defense. We saw this in our Sunday Night preview for the Giants and Cowboys too. NFC East defense need to get much better on third downs. This is why Washington settled in at 10-6 even with a positive YPP differential and a huge turnover edge. They couldn’t move the chains…which means they weren’t maximizing their offensive yards. And, that 44% on defense could turn out to be a real headache for Washington if Chip Kelly can get his engine running. Washington needs to get stops or their defense will be huffing and puffing all night.
Current Line: Washington by 3.5, total of 52
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Back with you tomorrow to review important developments in college football from this past weekend (there may be too many to review!). We’ll talk more football Wednesday…then pick back up with TV game previews Thursday Night when the New York Jets visit the New England Patriots in a battle of undefeateds. Friday will bring an early look at the Alabama/Texas A&M game that everyone’s been waiting months for.
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