Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, August 17, 2015 at 2:00 PM
You longtime students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping know that I always try to keep the coursework topical. With that in mind, today will be a “read and react” discussion regarding what we saw this past weekend in the first full week of 2015 NFL Preseason play.
Personally, I was particularly focused on how a few offenses would be performing out of the gate. There were four teams on my radar who posted some very ugly numbers. Let’s take them in the order they took the field…
NEW YORK JETS
Given the drama last week about Geno Smith’s injury…I was wondering how the offense would perform under the guidance of newcomer Ryan Fitzpatrick and rookie Bryce Petty out of Baylor. This is a franchise that’s struggled on offense for years…and just made a head coaching change that brought in a former defensive coordinator rather than an offensive guru. Things looked bleak even before the Geno Smith injury because Smith had performed so badly in the NFL. Thursday night in Detroit…a disaster! The Jets managed just 2.8 yards-per-play while gaining only 123 yards in a 23-3 loss to Detroit. Now…Fitzpatrick will play better than THAT going forward just because there’s a baseline for how low it can go in this league. But…students of the game have to expect that the Jets will continue to struggle on offense through August and the early part of the new season given all the elements in play.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Honestly, I’m not concerned about New England’s offense long term. Well, not as long as Tom Brady and Gronk are on the field together. But…the Pats are dealing with their own off-the-field soap opera right now…one that will likely keep Brady off the field for the first month of the regular season. Obviously, I had a 50-unit play on Green Bay +2.5 over the Pats last Thursday night. So, I was pessimistic about Jimmy Garappolo hitting the ground running with this distracted team. That pessimism was justified as New England gained just 211 yards in a 22-11 loss to the Packers (a two-touchdown cover for my clients!). The Patriots threw 34 passes for just 117 combined yards! Because the public tends to overrate the Patriots as a general rule, I’ll be monitoring this situation closely for the foreseeable future.
Much like the Jets, the Browns have had a sluggish offense for years. They thought Johnny Manziel would be the answer. As of now….both Manziel and the whole offense are still so bad that it’s hard to know who to blame! Maybe nobody could move this offense as it’s constructed, and Manziel would shine somewhere else. To the naked eye though, Johnny Football doesn’t even look like an NFL player in terms of poise and footwork. Manziel did run for a TD on a scramble last Thursday vs. Washington. But, Cleveland’s offense as a whole only managed 3.1 yards-per-play and 170 total yards in a home loss to the Redskins. The Jets and Browns still look to be in very bad shape on this side of the ball.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
This is a very interesting story because the team melted down last year under then-coach Jim Harbaugh. He’s gone, and his offensive expertise went with him. The new coach is a defensive guy, which could be very bad news for quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Sharp handicappers have noticed that Kaepernick has been slow to develop in terms of his decision-making and playmaking vs. quality defenses. Harbaugh protected him, keeping the reigns tight accept against the worst defenses. Can Kaepernick win on his own? The early returns weren’t good for him or the offense as a whole in a 23-10 loss to Houston Saturday night. The Niners only gained 199 yards, and were a disappointing 1 of 9 on third down tries. They passed for less than 100 yards on 20 attempts! Definitely a developing story in my view. Remember when ESPN’s Ron Jaworski was saying that Kaepernick could develop into the best quarterback EVER?! This coming season may put an end to that kind of talk for good. His safety net is gone.
There were some other poor offensive performances this past weekend. But, there’s no reason to be worried just yet about the proven attacks in Seattle (3.1 yards-per-play and 171 total yards vs. Denver) and Indianapolis (3.6 yards-per-play and only 10 points in Philly). It’s the combination of bad stats AND context that gets my attention in August. Seattle and Indy are still very strong bets to reach the playoffs because of their high quality quarterbacks. Though, I should point out that the Seahawks have some offensive line issues that merit concern. Neither Dallas nor San Diego looked sharp in their game against each other. Probably means nothing about what’s ahead in 2015 for Tony Romo and Philip Rivers.
My point today is that the struggles of NYJ, Cleveland, and San Francisco probably DO mean something…as does the sluggishness of the Patriots under Garappolo.
A new week of NFLX action will be here soon. If you’d like some help finding the best plays on the NFLX board each week, my personal service selections can be purchased right here at this very website with your major credit card. Questions about extended service can be answered personally by one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155. Take some time this week to get your ducks in a row for the coming season.
The Dean of Sports Handicapping returns later this week for more football. I’ve given you plenty of homework in recent days regarding the Preseason. Keep watching games and studying boxscores. The prepared gambler is the winning gambler!
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