Leans from the Desert


With no preseason games to consider and very little information coming out of NFL camps from qualified sources, the guys in Las Vegas made some peculiar choices, in my opinion, last week with favorites, point spreads and totals. I equated it to early- season betting in a normal year of college football. To that end, I was able to go 3-3 by picking the Rams +3, the Cardinals +6.5 and the Saints -3.5. Here’s hoping it just wasn’t the blind squirrel effect heading into Week 2.  

I like the Colts and their 2nd round pick RB Johnathon Taylor (as a fantasy play) this week. Taylor now fills in for an injured Marlon Mack. I can see them getting back to basics after the butt kicking in Jacksonville. Having Philip Rivers throw 40+ passes in a game is a formula for disaster. It was a situation I saw and watched too often when I was with the Chargers over the last 10 years. Sure, he needs to make better decisions and take care of the ball, but a steady diet of running behind their talented offensive line is really the identity GM Chris Ballard had in mind when building this team. 

The QB run game that New England employed last week vs Miami will be hard to sustain this week vs Seattle. Week 2 is all about adjustments in the NFL and defensive coaches are too good not to figure out and design ways to stop one dimensional offenses. I see Pete Carroll making adjustments and using his new toy, SS Jamal Adams, to spy and add numbers in the box vs Cam Newton and their designed QB runs. 

It will almost be like defending an option/RPO attack in college. I don’t see enough options as weapons in the passing game for the Pats to shift gears. I think Seattle matches up well on the outside and will attempt to make the New England WR’s get away from contact and tight coverage. Seattle will also employ more blitzes than normal vs play-action tendencies. It’s very hard to adjust routes and have hot reads when your passing game is based on a high percentage of play-action passes. Miami was able to get to Newton from his blind side off play action fakes before he even knew it was coming. Needless to say, I like Seattle giving the points (which should come down later in the weekend).

Having been a part of many early season games in Miami, I have seen first hand the effect the heat and humidity can have in September on a visiting team from the north. I actually thought that helped contribute significantly to Jacksonville’s upset win over the Colts in Florida last week. That, and the fact that Miami is very hungry to achieve tangible results for GM Chris Grier and HC Brian Flores. I’m leaning toward taking the underdog Dolphins and the points. I believe the Bills are still trying to perfect dealing with prosperity. Believe me, this is “a thing” in the NFL. I also think the fact that Miami had to defend the QB run game of Cam Newton last week gives them an advantage in their preparation and game planning for a similar style with Bills QB Josh Allen. Obviously, the Bills have upgraded their weapons on the outside but the Dolphins have a secondary, especially at the corners, that I think can match up. The Dolphins don’t want to go 0-2 so I see some early intensity in this divisional matchup. Buffalo has been the off-season flavor of the month so I think that motivates the Fins even more. 

The most impressive coaching job in Week 1 was turned in by Rams coach Sean McVay. In my opinion, he methodically put together a good game plan and stuck with what he believed to be the best chance to beat the Dallas Cowboys. I loved the plan and thought he showed discipline and maturity to execute it. I feel McVay has a chance to duplicate the results this week as the Rams travel to Philadelphia. We all know Philly squandered a 17-point lead last week to a mediocre, at best, Washington Football Team. 

Eagle QB Carson Wentz was sacked eight times. Do we not think Aaron Donald is smiling watching that tape from last week? This game is about matchups and I feel the Rams have the superior personnel matchups on both sides of the ball. In fact, I think the wrong team might be favored in this one. The Eagles have so many injuries to deal with that currently, it’s really a patch-work roster. If Wentz doesn’t realize the ball has to come out quickly, he may not survive Sunday, however their problem is two-fold. Sure, their offensive line struggled to protect, but the Eagles’ receivers did not get open and really struggled to separate from tight coverage. 

These issues are not going to get easier vs the Rams this week. I thought the Rams secondary did an excellent job shutting down any big-play opportunities against the Cowboys last week. I just see too many matchups favoring the Rams in this one. 


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