Mike Carlson checks in on NFL after the lion's share of week one action and ahead of the Monday night football. There were plenty of impressive performances but Mike urges you not to jump to conclusions quite yet...
"For football watchers the most impressive thing was the way the Jags won doing exactly what they said they wanted to do: controlling the ball on the ground, making the game easier for Blake Bortles, and playing great D."
Do you want the good news or the bad news? The good news for the Chiefs was they got a huge win in New England, a game I stayed away from even though giving KC 8.5 points was tempting. The bad news was Eric Berry, who made a crucial stop early on when the Pats were stuffed on a fourth and one, and who blanketed Gronk all day, was lost for the season with a torn achilles. Or 'with a heel' as Al Michaels would say.
The Pats were hit by further injury (Hightower, Amendola) and the problem for them is that their main losses have all come at two positions, wideout and edge players. They need to regroup, but they were realised that the KC game, until the Pats uncharacteristically ran out of gas in the fourth quarter, was one they could have put away early. It was also one where the Chiefs played more physically, and basically gave away 14 penalties in return for being allowed to. Teams that can beat on the Pats can beat the Pats, especially when Brady is trying to figure out who his security blanket receiver is going to be.
The good news was that if you bet BOTH my best bets you will have broken even on the week. While Houston failed to cover the handicap, LA Rams most certainly did not, trouncing Indanapolis 46-9.The Rams have discovered offense, and the Colts were much worse than advertised. The bad news was the Packers managed to beat Seattle by more than six, and the Jags dominated Houston.
Jags impress on both sides of the ball
For Jacksonville fans in the UK the latter was great news, for football watchers the most impressive thing was the way the Jags won doing exactly what they said they wanted to do: controlling the ball on the ground, making the game easier for Blake Bortles, and playing great D.
Ten sacks, four by new boy Calais Campbell, got the attention, but it was ex-Texan AJ Bouye and Jalen Ramsey, the Jag cornerbacks, who were superb, making DeAndre Hopkins' life miserable as Tom Savage and DeShaun Watson were given a fine view of the skies over Houston after failing to find open receivers.
A few conclusions not to draw from week one's action
Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders dubbed week one 'National Jump To Conclusions Week' and I hate to join that herd of claim jumpers, so I'm not crowning KC Super Bowl favourites, putting Bill Belichick on the hot seat (we're on to New Orleans, anyone?), or handing the Jags the AFC South, a division that is there for the handing.
Nor will I hand the Bills the AFC East, though this is the first time since 1776 the Pats haven't been in first place there. Someone pointed out that the last three times the Pats lost their season opener, they went on to win the Super Bowl, which will be disappointing news for Bills fans, despite their win over the Jets.
The Cowboys held the Giants (without Odell Beckham) in check while the Eagles won in Philadelphia. Detroit came back to beat Arizona, with rookie Kenny Golladay making a couple of great catches. It was a good week for road warriors. Two hot Super Bowl favourites just squeaked by in away games: Pittsburgh winning 21-18 in Cleveland and Atlanta 23-17 in Chicago, while the Ravens shut out the Bengals in Cincinnati and Oakland sent a message with a win in Tennessee. And did I mention the Chiefs ruined New England's undefeated season in Foxborough?
And some Monday night football thoughts to finish...
Most weeks I'll hold off and try to give you tips for Monday Night Football in today's column, but this week MNF is a double-header and on Thursday I suggested the Chargers to win in Denver at 7/5 for my value bet (the odds have shortened slightly since then) and taking the Saints with 3.5 points in Minnesota (the spread is down to 3, and I might move away from that one now). I still think the Chargers are good value; but you can also get them +3 at 5/6. Alternatively, you might test the over/unders in these games, going under 48 at 17/20 in Minnesota and over 43 at 20/21 in Denver.