Monday Night Previews and College Hits and Misses
NFL WEEK 1
Tonight, it's …
HOUSTON at NEW ORLEANS -- 7:10 p.m. ET, ESPN
Here's a really freaky stat for y'all:
The N'Orleans Saints have lost their last five season openers - gotta go back to the beginning of the 2013 season (Saints 23, Atlanta Falcons 13) to find the last time this club won in Week 1 - and now QB Drew Brees (NFL-best 74, 437 yards passing) and Company look to cover the 6.5-point price tag against a Houston Texans' team that has major issues at running back (RB Lamar Miller out for the year with preseason knee injury) and is one key pass rusher short from a year ago (see recent Jadeveon Clowney trade to Seattle).
Major key here is whether Brees can make those sharp / short connections with RB Alvin Kamara - what happens when he's "out in space" against those cat-quick Texans' linebackers?
Hey, you can forget this talk about "hangovers" with the Saints following last year's NFC Championship Game loss to the LA Rams … that ain't gonna happen!
Spread Notes - Believe it or not, New Orleans is a money-losing 19-23-1 versus the vig as hosts the past five years while Houston's just 1-4-2 ATS in its last seven games against NFC opponents.
DENVER at OAKLAND - 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
Whatta mess! The whole Antonio Brown Saga finally came to a boiling point this past Saturday when the Oakland Raiders released the major malcontent as all the while the pointspread for this AFC West battle went from Raiders - 3 to Broncos - 2.5 points, and that's a major swing in an NFL game no matter how you slice it!
The bottom line is now Jon Gruden's Raiders' team will look to toss aside all the distractions and open the '19 season with a bang but O-line questions could well mean QB Derek Carr spends a lot of time on his back - the combo of OLBs Von Miller and Bradley Chubb will be comin' hard here - and tonight we'll start to see if Joe Flacco (late of the Baltimore Ravens) can solve the long-running issues at quarterback for a Broncos' franchise that's 11-21 SU (straight-up) the past two years.
Might want to eyeball the Flacco-to-WR Courtland Sutton combo here as this could be a tandem to pay attention to this season.
Spread Notes - Denver is a rotten 5-11-2 against the odds in divisional games since the start of the 2016 season; Oakland's an ugly 8-17-1 ATS as underdogs the past two-plus seasons.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL - HITS & MISSES
Let's take a quickie tour 'round the College Football world for what were the weekend's "hits" and "misses" …
THE HITS -
The Maryland Terrapins - who have not won more than seven games in a single season since 2010 - raised more than a few eyebrows with their 63-20 win against Syracuse last Saturday in College Park. How about 642 total offensive yards on the day with transfer QB Josh Jackson throwing for 296 yards and 3 TDs? …
LSU's 45-38 shootout win at 6-point home dog Texas had a little bit of everything including four more TD throws by Bayou Bengals' star Joe Burrow but maybe the real hero here was freshman PK Cade York who nailed three field goals …
Nothing could be finer … The North Carolina Tar Heels - led by "Welcome back, Mack" as in Mack Brown - turned back 5.5-point fav Miami on Saturday night as 4th-quarter comebacks are becoming all the rage with this Tar Heels team. Hats off to frosh QB Sam Howell (274 yards passing, 2 TDs) who's helped make football fun again along Tobacco Road.
THE MISSES -
Gotta go all the way back to 1988 to find the Tennessee Volunteers started off a season at 0-2 SU as last weekend's stinging 29-26 twin-OT home loss against 3-point dog BYU was a rough one in Rocky Top. How about an 80-yard TD toss by BYU with just 20 seconds left in regulation? Ugh …
UCLA also has started off this season at 0-2 SU following that 23-14 home loss against 7.5-point dog Fresno State and - safe to say - Chip Kelly's job is very much on the line these next few weeks with the Pac-12 Bruins home to mighty Oklahoma (a 19.5-point fav to open) before venturing out to the road for conference games at Washington State and Arizona. If the Uclans are 0-5 before we ever get to October, Kelly could be a goner …
Finally, boo-hoo to this past weekend's betting favorites that were beaten outright: That's Nebraska, aforementioned UCLA, above-mentioned Tennessee, FIU, Kansas, noted Miami and Washington.