Thursday, September 10, 2009
Week 1 Upsets and Surprise Teams
by Mike T.
Every year starting week 1 we always see some surprises. Teams like Mia, Atl, and Balt come to mind when thinking about teams that most wouldn't expect much from in '08. This happens every year and will again this year. The Dolphins went 1-15 in the '07 season and turned it around in '08 finishing 11-5. The '07 Falcons(4-12) and the 5-11 Ravens both finished 11-5 in '08.
The first few weeks of the year is a great time to look for upsets, money lines, dogs that can cover or simply surprise teams. I do this every year and more often than not do pretty well.
Who will it be this year?
Two teams that seem to stick out to me are the Seahawks and the Bengals. The Seahawks underachieved in Holmgrens last season but I believe they as well as the 49ers will not let the Cards run away with the division this year. I expect Hasselbeck to bounce back after being injured much of last season. The addition of TJ Houshmandzadeh in FA and draft picks LB Aaron Curry and C Max Unger should all be key contributors immediately. They should have a solid run game behind a good OL and their is still a lot of talent on defense.
As for the Bengals, maybe I watched to much "Hard Knocks" but I believe that this team has a lot of talent. Sure they lost TJ but acquired L. Coles still have #85 (you can say that # in any language you like) and C. Henry tore it up in preseason. They have a stable of RBs and picked up FB B. Leonard. Rookie ILB Ray Maualuga will make an immediate impact on a pretty talented defense.
That said, I won't take either of these two teams in week one as they are both favorites. So let's get to the dogs that I like.
Jacksonville +7 at the Colts
We all know how good the Colts offense is but, the defense goes from slightly above average to poor when Bob Sanders is out. Well, he's out. The Jags like to run the ball and they do it well. The Colts did very little in the offseason and during the draft to beef up the defense. I can see the Jags having a big day on the ground while keeping Peyton on the sidelines. I'm also not ready to write off Tory Holt. I think he has a few more 80+ catch seasons left in him and it may be time for 5th year WR Troy Williamson to have a breakout year.
Jax 27 Ind 24
Tampa Bay +6 vs Dallas
The Cowboys did almost nothing in the offseason.They lost T.O. and picked up Jon Kitna in FA and that's about it. They didn't have a pick in the draft until the 3rd round and while they did have multiple picks in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th, I don't see any of them getting much playing time right away. That's not to say that some of them won't be stars in the near future, just not the first few weeks. Tampa lost a few players in FA but replaced them with better talent in the off season. The addition of Derrick Ward to go along with Cadillac and Graham makes this a great RB rotation. Antonio Bryant had a break out year and new arrival KWII may be enough O for the Bucs. They added two defensive linemen on day one of the draft to an already solid defense. I like the home dog in this one.
Tampa 23 Dallas 21
Miami +4 at Atlanta
I'm kind of torn between a few teams that may pull out a money line win for me. I think the 49ers may have a shot against the Cards. I really want to pull the trigger on Cleveland over the Vikes, but I think I'm going to go with the Dolphins over the Falcons in week 1. These are two teams headed in the right direction. They both had nice off seasons in FA and the draft. For some reason though I have to go with Miami. I think they will try to keep Matt Ryan off the field as much as they can with a strong running game. A lot of new faces on defense for the Falcons may still need a week or two to fully understand the system. I also think Pennington will make fewer mistakes than sophomore Ryan.
Miami 26 Atlanta 16