Friday, September 13, 2013

NFL: 5 Hail Mary's - Week 2

by Sean Coffey

Number 7 celebrates another Eagles touchdown

It was a huge first week in the NFL. 12 out of the 16 games were decided by 7 points or less. Offences DOMINATED this week! Peyton Manning had 7 TDs! SEVEN!! 12 QBs had over 300 yards passing; that's nearly half the league getting over what used to be the bench mark for a great game by a QB! Philip Rivers, who had 4 touchdowns, is not on that list. More surprisingly, neither are Tom Brady, Michael Vick nor Andrew Luck.

The Philadelphia Eagles were a joy to watch in the first half of MNF. They instantly became one of the most entertaining, if not the most, entertaining offenses in the NFL. The Eagles put up 26 points in the first half, something they only managed that once last year. They also ran 53 plays in the first half, the second most ever in a half in the NFL. Michael Vick was the second highest rushing QB of the week.

You’re probably curious as to who the highest rushing QB of the week was, huh? It wasn't Colin Kaepernick. It wasn’t RG3. Not Russell Wilson either. And it sure as hell was not the Oakland Raiders Quarterback! It was actually...

looking at rushing stats...

highest RB LeSean McCoy...


second highest “Terrelle Pryor, QB”.

Oh, Terrelle Pryor, he’s the quarterback for... wait, WHAT THE FUCK?!

Terrelle Pryor, quarterback of the Oakland “I can’t believe we are still considered an NFL team” Raiders.

Pryor rushed for 112 yards as the Raiders nearly defeated the Colts...that is until they realized that they were the Oakland Raiders and threw away the game. With the exception of Pryor and McCoy, only the Patriots Shane Vereen (who was put on injured reserve after their game and will be out till week 8 at least) broke 100 yards rushing. 78 of 93 Adrian Peterson yards came on the Vikings' opening play against the Lions.

The game is changing. Benchmarks for quarterbacks are getting higher. It has become a passing game, except now, quarterbacks have an option to run. We know this from the rushing record Kaepernick set last year in the playoffs against the Packers. So what did Harbaugh and the Niners do against Green Bay in opening week? The complete opposite! They kept Kaepernick in the pocket for the most part (he only rushed seven times) while they unleashed Anquan Boldin. The Packers could not adequately prepare for that. Nor could they prepare for the chemistry that Kaepernick had with Vernon Davis. Especially since that chemistry was questioned by ex-49er Randy Moss.

Boldin looked so incredible that I see him back flipping out of this, landing on his feet, running in for a TD (after somehow making a bum of Clay Matthews) before being greeted by an Olympic torch from Jerry Rice! Yes, editor @AMTRick, I know it’s a long caption for a pic but fit it in damn it. It’s important and necessary! 

My point is simple: it is next to impossible for defences to prepare for an offense that they do not have film for in the opening week. As great as the Eagles were on Monday, teams are going to be more prepared from now on. Stalling tactics, like the rumors of fake injuries, are going to become apart of the game as teams try to slow down no-huddle offenses. Teams are going to be more prepared for read option plays. 12 out of the 16 games were close games. One big defensive play could have/did change each one. How defenses react and adjust to the changing game will sort out the contenders from the pretenders as the season progresses.

Whether the read option becomes more like the wildcat formation or the West Coast offence will only be decided in time. But with how offenses are clicking right now, it sure is an exciting time to watch the NFL!

Onto my 5 Hail Mary picks of the week.

Side Note: I am ashamed to admit that I have not taken a team that are +6 against the Raiders! +6! Even if it is the Jags. That pick has castrated me.

(HOME TEAM in Caps):

RAVENS (-6.5) over Browns

I know what you’re thinking: this is not the same Ravens team that won the Superbowl last year, and they were destroyed by the Broncos. Well the game against the Broncos was a pretty close game till the refs wrongly ruled a third down pass to Wes Welker as a catch. The Ravens failed to challenge. As the announcers questioned John Harbaugh’s decision not to challenge, Peyton Manning and the Broncos got a TD and never looked back. It was harsh on Harbaugh and the Ravens in my opinion as that is the ref’s job to make the right call there, though I’d say Harbaugh still chewed out his staff for not pointing out this game changing play to him! Only once in their last 10 meetings have the Ravens not defeated the Browns by more than 7 points. Baltimore Ravens finally return home, as champs, and with a point to prove!

Saints (-3.5) over BUCCANEERS

The Bucs threw away a W against the Jets after a stupid personal foul. However, they didn’t look great against a poor Jets team who have been the laughing stock of this offseason. Meanwhile, the Saints beat divisional rivals, Atlanta Falcons, and should be feeling good to get back to winning ways under Sean Payton. They'll need a little more production from running backs Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles to avoid Brees making too many passes in the direction of Derrell Revis and Dashon Goldson in doing so, though.

Broncos (-4.5) over GIANTS

The two highest Fantasy QBs of week 1, and brothers, go head-to-head this week in the Manning-bowl. Peyton passed for 462 yards and 7 TDs while Eli had 450 yards, 4 TDs and 3 INTs. The difference is obviously the interceptions. However, the Broncos were clearly more happy with their offensive display last week. Peyton passed because it was working and he was unstoppable. Eli, on the other hand, had no choice. Hence the interceptions and the fact NYG have re-signed free agent Brandon Jacobs to try and improve their rushing woes. Giants could have won the gameSunday after committing SIX turnovers, which is ludicrous! A part of that has to be attributed to playing the Cowboys who could not finish them off. Peyton won’t have that same problem. 

49ers (+3.0) over SEAHAWKS

There’s a reason this blog is called the 5 Hail Marys, because there’s always that one pick that I’ll back the second I see it and it will either look spectacular or a complete flop. Interesting to note: this was the exact same line as last year after the Niners had a hard fought W over the Patriots, only for them to be trounced by Seattle. The Seahawks also beat the Panthers by a low score last year (16-12) so we shouldn’t read too much into last week’s 12-7 victory. However, I believe this Niners team is fresh and possibly even better than last year so I’m going to go with this line every single time! San Francisco have a point to prove and this rivalry is fast becoming one of the absolute intense in the NFL. As (recently retired WWE commentator) Jim 'J.R' Ross would say, “it’s gonna be a slobberknocker folks.”

Yep, that’s my argument on the line. 

Steelers (+7.0) over BENGALS

All four AFC North teams lost their opening game. The Steelers had no offence at all against the Titans while Cincinnati lost to a decent Chicago team. The Bengals blew a 3rd Quarter lead. A Steelers team that has a 2-time Superbowl winning head coach and QB team in Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger can not put up two absolute stinker of performances like Week One in a row. They were Black and Gold. Not Black and Silver. I think this will be a close division match up and could be decided by a late drive. Enough to cover the line. Yeah, this is actually the Hail Mary Pick of the week! (Editor's Note: Thank god you said it, backing the Steelers didn't work out well for you last year) Cue the “Fail Mary” line if Roethlisberger doesn’t perform.

So if my first 4 bets come in, I guess I’m going to be staying up for the MNF on Eurosport where they randomly flick over to golf during drives and have stupidly long commercials for half time. Knew I should have backed the Ja... actually, I can’t even finish that sentence.

Happy Football People!! 

Sean Coffey (formerly Angry Andy) is a former pro-wrestler, turned radio host/podcaster, turned sports gambling addict. He's a die-hard San Francisco 49ers and Miami Heat fan, is dying hard being a Villa fan this season and his favourite film is also, unsurprisingly, Die Hard. Follow him on Twitter @Coffey_23.

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