As the smoke clears from a wild opening week, a few story lines pop their head up in the NFL.
The New England Patriots are a whopping 19-point ROAD favorite against the beleaguered Miami Dolphins, who lost their home opener by an ugly 49 points against Baltimore last week.
If the Patriots cover, it would be the largest achievement by a road favorite in history. There have been bigger spreads laid down by visiting teams, with the 49ers giving 23 points in Atlanta in 1987 and the Patriots giving Baltimore 18.5 in 2007. Neither team covered. But the early sentiment from our Beat the Degenerates crew is all riding on New England.
I host Beat the Degenerates with Scott Cronick, director of entertainment publications for The Press of Atlantic City, 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays on Newstalk 1400 AM, WONDRadio.com and 92.5-FM. Several local personalities like Brian Cahill from Shore Medical Center and Press of Atlantic City Eagles beat writer Dave Weinberg add some depth to our insights and all the depth this week has been saying New England covers the 19.
A second angle from that game concerns Antonio Brown, who was an unhappy Raider when you read this piece last week. Suddenly, he’s a Patriot. He did everything to get out of his contract with the Raiders. Did not come to practice. Threatened to beat up his coach. He supposedly hired social-media experts to orchestrate his campaign to leave. It worked, he was let go and then picked up by New England. Now he’s accused of rape by a former trainer. If you live outside of New England, you bemoan the reprehensible lack of moral fiber shown by the Patriots. It shows an absence of principle. If you are a Pats fan, you dream of Brady-to-Brown, reminding you of Brady to Randy Moss in 2007. If the team keeps his attitude in place, the defending champions will be a juggernaut. I think they will and he will give them a Randy Moss-like look at wide receiver. New England won’t hesitate to give him the boot if Brown gets out of line, as they won’t disrupt Tom Brady’s comfort level.
This week also features the rematch between the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints, who vied for the NFC championship last post-season. The Saints were denied near-certain victory by a helmet-to-helmet infraction that was not called in the final moments of a game the Rams eventually won. Players may say this is just another game, but there is more riding on this one. History suggests the revenge motif favors the Saints but if you like the Rams, giving only 2.5 is great number for them at home.
Can the Eagles, who showed vintage form during the second half of their win against Washington last week, avoid the road jinx that hit them last year in Tennessee when they travel to Atlanta Sunday night? It already looks like the Eagles and Dallas will decide the NFL East. Oh? This is only Week 2? So be it. By the way, Sunday night home teams often cover.
Because of the teams that did fire from the gate, some week two games are loaded with intrigue.
Did you ever think the Cardinals at the Ravens would be compelling? It is now after the Ravens scored 59 points and the Cardinals pulled out a tie from a 24-6 fourth-quarter deficit.
Can the Bills do the improbable, go 2-0 to start the season by winning two road games in the same place on back to back weeks? They return to Met Life stadium, where they just beat the Jets. This time they play the Giants. They have never beaten Eli Manning. Is this the first time?
This Week’s Mid Week Lines (Draft Kings)
Over-under in parentheses
Carolina -7 Tampa Bay (49)
Buffalo -1.5 at NY Giants (43.5)
Pittsburgh -4 Seattle (43.5)
Tennessee -3 Indianapolis (44.5)
LA Chargers -2.5 At Detroit (48)
Green Bay -3 Minnesota (44)
Dallas -5.5 Washington (46)
Baltimore -13 Arizona (46.5)
Cincinnati -1.5 San Francisco (45)
Houston -8.5 Jacksonville (43.5)
New England -19 at Miami (48)
Kansas City -7.5 Oakland (53.5)
Chicago -2.5 at Denver (40.5)
LA Rams -2.5 New Orleans (52.5)
Eagles -2 at Atlanta (51)
Cleveland -3 at NY Jets (46)
Given the widening circle of participants in our fearless selections department, we’ve allowed everyone to pick their top game, even if it duplicates others.
My pick: Cleveland -3. There’s something eerie about the first teams ever to play Monday Night Football, in 1970, hooking up again. The Browns won that one … Maybe, (hah) this is the carryover effect.
Cronick, Weinberg: Falcons + 2.
Tom Sullivan, GM of McCullough’s Pub, which sponsors a $25 weekly winner gift certificate for Beat The Degenerates: Green Bay -3
Mike from Egg Harbor Township, call-in contestant: Falcons +2, he also likes them to win outright.
Cahill: Pittsburgh -4. He wore Seattle regalia into the radios station on Wednesday and is a known Seattle lover, but Cahill smells a rat, so he took Pittsburgh. It’s the misdirection angle on the thought that the line should be smaller given Pittsburgh’s awful game against New England.
Ky Carlin, WOND sports correspondent: Seattle +4. Somebody smelled the rat, somebody didn’t.
Pickett Russell, AKA DA KIPSTER, GM of Tennessee Ave. Beer Hall: Carolina -7.
Dan Skeldon, meteorologist: Colts….and a mostly dry weekend.
Takeaways from Week One:
THE AGONY AND THE ECSTACY
The Bears and Packers looked to be in pre-season form for the season opener. Quarterbacks did not play the exhibition season for fear of injury, so it looked like summer camp when the Packers won a 10-3 snoozer on Thursday night. But the Saints-Texans game was an absolute thriller Monday Night with Deshaun Watson throwing two downfield bombs to get Houston in front with 37 seconds left. But then Will Lutz drilled a 58-yard field goal as time expired to give the Saints the win. Houston played too loosely and should have squibbed the final kickoff to eat up a few more seconds.
The Ravens scored a franchise record 59 points against Miami. Every one of Lamar Jackson’s five touchdown passes eclipsed the ENTIRE output of Pittsburgh against New England. The mighty Steelers got three points. Looked like the Bears and the Packers.
WELCOME HOME AND BACK DOOR COVER
The Eagles were happy to have DeSean Jackson back as he took in two long touchdown passes for the Eagles, helping them come back from 17-0 to beat Washington. But bettors obtained a bad beat when the Skins scored a “meaningless” touchdown with six second left to cover the spread. Top-level teams don’t give up that score.
CHOKE ON IT
The Jets and the Lions. New York had a 16-3 fourth-quarter lead at home against Buffalo and coughed it up in a 17-16 loss. Its defense stopped playing for a quarter and a half. Their field goal kicker was awful, missing an extra point and field goal. He was cut this week and the Jets are now on their fifth kicker in the last two months…Detroit shared the choke spotlight with a 24-6 fourth-quarter lead that vanished in Arizona and it ended 27-27. People who had the Lions - 2.5 figured that game was in their pocket. And then their pocket was picked.
A BAD BREAK
Nick Foles suffered a broken collarbone in his first game with the Jags and is out for a long time. Tough blow to a class act.
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS
Winning selections: I picked the Rams giving 2.5 and they won by three in Carolina. Weinberg, rumored to be getting the key to the city of Miami after saying he’d pick against the Dolphins every week, enjoyed Baltimore in a 59-10 laugher in Miami. Ky Carlin had Indy plus 6.5 against the Los Angles Chargers and covered by half a point.
Losing selections: Cahill with Jacksonville against Kansas City, Cronick with Cleveland against Tennessee, Warren with Tampa Bay versus San Francisco, Dan Skeldon and our listener picking Pittsburgh, which lost to New England.
On The Chin: Bad Beat for Da Kipster, who had Detroit winning 24-6 and was robbed of a cash-out. He was last seen filling out a police report.
EXTRA POINTS: Cronick reported that his $100 investment onto his phone app last year produced roughly 600 bets. He re-upped last week and made 19 bets, winning $10.75. The message? Keep the bets small and keep them fun.
Scott and his lovely wife Larissa were with me at the brand-new Book at Bally’s on Sunday. It featured tremendous overhead screens, action from every game, substantial legroom in leather seats and a Man Cave, a-la-a-Super box, for those who want to reserve a spot to host family and friends. It has a grand feeling of luxury and will entice people to come.
While this goes on, the industry observes a potential big play very soon. It will be interesting to see what happens in Atlantic City if Miosks (mobile kiosks), offered by IGT, become a bigger presence. The product is brand new and word is just getting out about it, but the Miosk is a device that can go on the armrest of a chair and let someone bet right on their phone. It can provide sports-book luxury without the betting lines and I figure this will eventually go into the playbook of several properties.
But that’s later.
For this week, I hope you get the bounces. Good luck.