We’re starting something new. Every Tuesday during the football season we are going to do a look ahead at what the coming weekend has to offer – the highs and lows, the betting intrigue, the clear stay-aways, the fun stories. Without further ado…
Worst game of the week (and perhaps ever) – There is absolutely no contest here. Kansas City is a four point favorite at home against the Raiders. I could spend every minute between now and kickoff trying to come up with a single nice thing to say about each team and I couldn’t do it. Terrible, awful, thoroughly irredeemable game. The sad part is that this used to be such a classic rivalry. Pathetic.
Best NFL game of the week – The obvious choice would be the Monday night Philly-Dallas game, but choosing that wouldn’t be very original, and I’m not sure it will live up to the hype. Pittsburgh and Cleveland has promise, but I am justifiably scared of Cleveland after the Dallas game. That leaves me with my choice – Buffalo at Jacksonville. Buffalo played one of the three best games of the first week (along with Dallas and Pittsburgh). Jacksonville was embarrassed by Tennessee and will be looking to bounce back strong. This one could be a classic. Jacksonville is favored by six.
Games with teams with most to prove – San Diego at Denver. The Chargers were should be disgusted by how they started and ended their opener against Carolina. They have a clear chance to be the class of the AFC now, but they have to be much, much better to do so. Denver looked surprisingly complete on Monday night, but that probably doesn’t mean much since it only came against Oakland. They will be looking to prove that they are legitimate, and nothing would do that better than a win here. San Diego is only favored by one.
Ridiculously over-hyped – The Jets – Pats game is still five days away and already I am sick of hearing about it. I will obviously watch the game, but likely with the sound off – the announcers will be tripping over themselves finding new ways to describe the Brady situation.
Oddest line – At first glance it seems odd that Seattle is favored by nine over the Niners. San Francisco has all sorts of troubles, but so does Seattle. The Hawks have more receiver problems than seems possible, and now the story has come out that Hasselbeck has a bulging disk. On top of that they are coming off a truly awful performance on both sides of the ball. It’s hard to see a reason I would want to trust them to win by 10.
Mildly interesting stat – The Patriots are currently underdogs against the Jets. They were never underdogs last year. It only happened three times the year before, and they covered all three times.
Truly strange – I have started as many football games in my life as Matt Cassel has since he graduated high school. I have never played football.
Best college game of the week – A no-brainer, obviously. I truly believe that the winner of the USC – Ohio State game will be in the BCS championship game. The public clearly thinks that that will be USC – they are favored by 10.5. If it weren’t for that one then my vote would be for Wisconsin – Fresno State. The Bulldogs are for real, and this is their chance to prove it against a very good team in their home stadium. Kansas – South Florida is another interesting one between two teams that have to prove that last year was no fluke. I’m also ver interested to see if BYU looks better this week, and how UCLA comes back from a huge upset win.
Filling me with dread – I watched Notre Dame play San Diego State. It was a painfully inept, thoroughly disgusting display of shoddy football. Awful. But now the Irish play my beloved Wolverines. If Michigan can’t beat that hopeless team it will be very hard to take. I’d probably even cry. Sadly, the odds reflect the reality of the situation – the game is currently a pick ’em.
Four interesting games between unranked teams – Florida Atlantic (+17) at Michigan State. The Spartans have been surprisingly solid, and Florida ATlantic’s QB Rusty Smith is an underappreciated talent. Georgia Tech (+7) at Virginia Tech. The Hokies have a lot to prove after losing to East Carolina, and they have to do it against a team riding high under a new coach and a new system. Southern Miss (+2) at Arkansas State. Southern Miss scored 51 in their first game. Arkansas State racked up 83 last week. This one could be a shootout. Rice (+7) at Vanderbilt. A battle of the upstarts.
Biggest line – LSU is favored by 41 over North Texas. They last met in 2005, and the Tigers won by 53. The trick here will be to get the game in. For the second straight week a hurricane is impacting LSU fotball. They had to cancel last week, and they may have to move the game this week. The next biggest is for Texas Tech, which is favored by 36.5 over SMU. SMU isn’t good (obviously), but June Jones is in his first year on the job there, and you can guarantee he’ll have his team at their best (for what that’s worth). If they can disrupt Graham Harrell like Nevada dd last week then this one could be mildly interesting. I’m not suggesting a possible upset, or even a likely cover by the dogs, but at least this one is vastly more interesting than the North Texas one.