The term “Bulletin Board Material” has always stuck in my craw.
Why can’t a player be confident enough in himself and his team to say things like, “I don’t think they have anybody to stop me - for real” and not be held over the coals for it?
If I were a coach, I’d want my guys feeling like no one can stop them. And if I’m a bettor, I’d want my wager riding on a dude with that much bravado.
The above quote comes from Buffalo Bills WR Stevie Johnson, and the “they” he’s talking about are the New England Patriots.
Johnson might even be right. New England may not have anyone that can stop him. But the tricky thing about receivers is that they first need someone to throw them the ball. And that’s where Johnson’s comments and the 50-point total for Week 1’s matchup get a little confusing.
The Bills will hand the ball to a rookie passer versus the Patriots, either undrafted free-agent Jeff Tuel or dinged-up first-round pick E.J. Manuel, who is questionable with a knee injury. Neither player is striking fear in the cold, dark heart of Bill Belichick.
If these teams are going to top that 50-point total – the third-highest number on the Week 1 board – New England is going to have to do all the heavy lifting.
The Patriots were the best over bet in football last season but are without four of their top five receivers from 2012. And if the preseason is any indication, Tom Brady could have his work cut out for him this year.
Fifty-point totals could be a thing of the past for the Pats.
Perhaps the one Week 1 spread that has kept NFL bettors up at night the most is the 9.5-point line for Thursday’s season opener between the Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos.
It’s the exact same spread bettors tangled with when these two teams played in the AFC Divisional Round back in January, with Baltimore winning 38-35 in Denver.
Sure, the Ravens lost some key components and the magic from that Super Bowl could be all dried up, but a championship should buy a little respect from the bookmakers. Bettors certainly have had their say with the early line, taking it as low as a touchdown at some spots.
A let’s not forget the crappy offseason the Broncos had: Numerous black eyes for the front office, injuries to the offensive line, and a six-game suspension for the team’s top pass rusher.
If you don’t think these dark clouds can disrupt an entire season, talk to the New Orleans Saints.
The Northwestern Wildcats came back from a Week 1 trip to California with a lot more baggage, in the form of ice packs and crutches.
The Wildcats took an ugly 44-30 win over Cal last Saturday, needing two long INT-return touchdowns from Collin Ellis to overcome injuries to starting QB Kain Colter (concussion) and RB Venric Mark as well as CBs Matthew Harris and Daniel Jones, who is out for the year after suffering a knee injury.
Colter is questionable for Saturday’s home showdown with Syracuse but oddsmakers have still tabbed banged-up NU as a 12-point favorite in Week 2.
The Orange gave Penn State a good fight in Week 1, losing 23-17 but covering as 8-point dogs at MetLife Stadium, and looked solid on defense. This spread will surely move up or down depending on Colter’s status.