Welcome back to another NFL season!
This year, it just feels like it is going to be a great one. The draft came and went with lots of quality depth for the running back and wide receiver positions. Fantasy draft season hits and you’re suddenly thrown into the conundrum of taking a seasoned vet or one of the 4 rookie backs that could start and make huge impacts? And talk about depth at receiver! Outside of the top crop of players guaranteed to vie for the 200-250 point mark in most PPR leagues, there is some amazing depth there for your WR2-4!
Then pre-season hits. You’re excited, waiting for the first big crack of pads and game action regardless if they are guys who will be cut in 4 weeks (and Hardknocks). Football is back! A couple key injuries here and there and then you’re wondering why Greg held the damn draft so early in the pre-season…….but you don’t care because it gives you an excuse to play GM for your team and scour stats of the waiver wire players for that undrafted diamond in the rough stud!
Man, what a time of the year…
Fast forward to the first game of the season, Chiefs @ Patriots. Pats -9, O/U 48.5:
Rule of thumb for the past 15 years or so has been, don’t bet against the Pats at home, EVER! Chances are, out of 8 games, you’ll be in the black, handedly, every year. Their ATS coverage at home since 2003 is amazing (75-54-4, 58.1% covers). The only team better than them is Seattle 73-46-4 (61.3% covers), and those figures include playoffs. Needless to say, SHOCKER! I mean, the only thing not shocking about that game was that the Chiefs were going to cover the 9 points Vegas gave them. They had to have been reminded by that fact all week and possibly helped create a “chip on the shoulder” mentality that they weren’t being respected coming into this game. Let’s be honest though, we know the Pats are REALLY good at home especially when it’s a feature game, but 9 POINTS!?!?! That’s a spread you reserve for the Pats/Jags or the Pats/Browns, not the Chiefs. I figured they’d cover but still lose…..because, well…..it’s the Pats at home. I couldn’t have been more wrong about the final score.
Covers.com had the game at Pats -9, O/U of 48.5. I figured that the Pats secondary would make it difficult for Smith to be relied on solely, so I planned on his usual 1 maybe 2 TD’s through the air and maybe 250 yards, effectively like a pro vet QB, managing the game well. I expected Hunt to make a small impact in his first game, maybe 70 yards and a score. I expected the Pats to have their run game stall because of the Chiefs stingy defensive front and I expected Tom would exploit the defense on a handful of plays to keep the Pats ahead with his numerous air attack weapons.
Not once could I have predicted Hunt tearing off 148 yards on the ground with another 98 through the air along with 3 TD’s, (dramatic pause), ALL after losing a fumble on his first ever carry! Nor did I see Smith tossing for 368 and 4 scores while completing 80% of his passes. No one, however, could’ve seen this coming, Tom Brady completing just 44% of his throws and end up with 0 TD’s, (another dramatic pause) 0!!!! They only averaged 3.5 yards rushing as a team, mostly thanks to Gillislee and White (side shocker no one saw coming, Gillislee having 3 rushing TD’s).
So the Chiefs defense did what I thought they’d do but the pass rush against Brady was alive last night! Brady had a bunch of time in the pocket for most of the night despite the 3 sacks but he felt the pressure amount the longer he held the ball (which was evident on a play where no one was all that close to him and he flinched in the pocket, ducking down as if to brace for a sack and quickly stood straight back up to fire an incompletion). The Chiefs did all of this while amassing 15 penalties for 139 yards to which the Pats got 4 first downs from and set up a few close TD’s at the Chief’s goal line.
First game, in the books, complete shocker. Expect a big bounce back next week since that usually happens when the Pats lose bad.
Check back Sunday morning for a preview of Sunday’s games complete with spread and over/unders from Covers.com along with my predictions for each game along with Colin Cowherd’s Blazing 5.