Luca Bercelli looks ahead to Sunday night's NFL action and previews two games in which he feels we can make a profit...
This is an interesting match-up of week one losers featuring two quarterbacks who both threw for over 300 yards but ended up drawing big fat blanks. Unlike most observers, including the QBs in question(!), I thought both played okay and I'm forgiving them these early season defeats.
It's a sign of the times that both clubs seem to have given up completely on rushing: the Panthers and the Saints rushed for a combined 42 yards...yes you read it correctly, 42 yards COMBINED (Panthers 10yds - worst in the league, Saints 32yds - third worst in the league). That is woeful, pitiful, pathetic - in fact it's a total I'm pretty sure I shatter regularly, rushing from sofa to fridge and back during the course of a single game on TV!
Either they can't run, don't want to, or came up against world-beating defences. With option b the most likely explanation don't expect to see much in the way of 'ground and pound' at Bank of America Stadium in uptown Charlotte on Sunday. No, this will be a moon-ball job with plenty of bombs being thrown and hopefully...caught. Market-makers have factored this into the total points market and pitched it high at (50.5 points), but I still make that a definite bet at around the even-money mark 1.9720/21.
With no ground game to speak of the Saints were well in contention and had plenty of chances even in the face of a Robert Griffin III-inspired 'Skins' onslaught. The rookie quarterback put in one of the best debuts of all time and the poor old Saints have another young stud to deal with in week two. Cam Newton makes his second-season home debut and he'll be keen to back up some of the big claims he's made for himself to anyone who'll listen.
It's tricky to call the winner of this match-up but the terrible hangover from the bounty scandal cannot be helping the New Orleans coaching staff. Add to that an almost unplayable box of tricks going by the name of Cam Newton and I just take the Panthers to nick it. A 2.5 point handicap start seals the deal so I'll take them at 2.021/1 in a close one.
I must be missing something here because I just don't see how a Rams' loss to the Lions roughly equates to a barnstorming away victory against tough opposition for the 'Skins. That's what the current 3-point handicap suggests, and to be honest, the Skins (-3) is a tastier proposition than a pint of Ben and Jerry's 'Phish Food' on a summer's day. (Google it and salivate if you're not in the loop!)
Rookie sensation Robert Griffin III inspired the 'Skins to rack up 40 points when upsetting the Saints in a wild one last weekend: he completed 19 of 26 passes for 320 yards, ran for 42 yards, had zero interceptions and to cap it all, chucked in an 88-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. Something of a contrast with a lacklustre Rams' performance in which they propped up the league offensively with a paltry 251 total yards.
St Louis coach Jeff Fisher took a 'cup half full' view of events but it might soon be half empty if the 'Skins tear them apart on their own patch. To be fair, they were a timekeeping balls-up (I think that's the technical term) away from victory last weekend but they'll have to be defensively on point with RG III on the rampage. He hasn't got Megatron to aim at (a luxury that the Lions' Matthew Stafford utilised for 111 yards against the Rams), but he has got a range of targets and if none of them are open, he'll do it all himself.
The roller-coasting hype-machine is nailed on to spin out of control if the rookie strings a few more performances like his debut together, and with a far from brutal schedule this is not impossible. If you can't get an early price on him running for president (I've snapped up most of the 1,000,000-1 already) try a piece of the 1.9210/11 Washington (-3pts) this weekend and throw in a bean or two on a Superbowl win at 70.069/1.
Put it in perspective; Jessica Ennis is a quarter of those odds to win Sports Personality of The Year and she'll be having a blinder just to get a sniff of the podium, let alone win it.