Home Sports Four NFL questions to ponder entering Week 2 of 2020 season

Four NFL questions to ponder entering Week 2 of 2020 season


LAS VEGAS — What happens in Week 1 of the NFL season stays there, for the most part. In a month or two, the season’s opening Sunday will be all but forgotten and many of the hot takes — Tom Brady looks his age, for example — will be wrong in retrospect.

There were blowouts, stunning comebacks, upsets and all sorts of big bets as the NFL returned from a seven-month absence. The coronavirus-era action did not disappoint, on the field or in the books.

The South Point sportsbook wagering handle Sunday topped $1 million, despite $30,000 being the largest single wager. BetMGM reported at least nine wagers of more than $100,000, including a $525,000 winning play on New England -7.

“It just goes to show you what football means,” said Jimmy Vaccaro, a Las Vegas bookmaker for more than 40 years. “There were just a lot of people. The number of tickets was unbelievable.”

Several times during the day, Vaccaro took the mic and made announcements in the South Point book to remind everyone to stay socially distanced and wear face masks.

“The mechanics of what we did went very well. There were no holdups, and no screaming,” Vaccaro said. “It’s all a little bit different than what I’ve been used to all these years. I’m worried about people wearing masks.”

Vaccaro also was pleased with the bottom line. Three upsets — Arizona over San Francisco, Jacksonville over Indianapolis, Washington over Philadelphia — made the day difficult for the betting public and helped turn a profit for a majority of books.

“The final numbers are really good,” Westgate SuperBook director John Murray said. “A lot of people tried to chase at the end of the day on the Cowboys, so that was a good result for us.”

It was not the desired result for BetMGM, which took two $100,000 moneyline wagers on the Rams and a $150,000 wager on Under 52. The Rams beat the Cowboys 20-17, and all three of those big bets were winners. Dallas opened as a 3-point favorite and the line closed pick ’em.

The day after — known as Overreaction Monday — is a handicapping challenge in itself. As always, there are plenty of popular opinions to entertain.

Tom BradyAP

Brady, who turned 43 in August, is too old to lead an overhyped Tampa Bay team to the playoffs.

Judgment: Overreaction.

While his performance in the Buccaneers’ 34-23 loss at New Orleans was uninspiring, it should not be that surprising. Brady completed 23 of 36 passes for 239 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, including a pick-six that brought back memories of Jameis Winston. But miscommunication and timing problems should be expected in a new offense, especially when there was no preseason. The Saints are NFC title favorites for a reason and did what they were supposed to do as 4-point home favorites. Brady had plenty of zip on his throws and actually looked better than Drew Brees. The Bucs just need some time and will be fine.

Cam Newton will be a good replacement for Brady.

Judgment: Right Reaction.

Newton, with a base salary of $1 million, was a low-risk signing for the Patriots. He’s not an MVP candidate, but he’s got enough left to keep New England in playoff contention. Newton ran 15 times for 75 yards and two touchdowns while hitting 15 of 19 passes for 155 yards. The new offense fits his strengths. Still, the Dolphins, 7-point underdogs in a 21-11 loss, were so disappointing that it’s too soon to get too excited about Newton and the Pats.

Sam DarnoldAP

The Jets are suddenly in the hunt for next year’s No. 1 draft pick.

Judgment: Right Reaction.

This is a tough call, and maybe an overreaction. Jacksonville and Washington remain co-favorites to be the league’s worst team and probably would be smart to tank for Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, but the Jets are throwing their hat in the ring. Until quarterback Sam Darnold shows improvement — and running back Le’Veon Bell’s hamstring injury hurts Darnold’s cause — the Jets will struggle to win. Adam Gase is a candidate to be the first coach fired this season.

Darnold, the No. 3 pick in the 2018 draft, was outplayed by Josh Allen, the No. 7 pick in that draft. Allen passed for 312 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 57 yards and a touchdown. BetMGM took a $200,000 bet on the Bills -6.5 in a game the betting public got right. Buffalo led 21-3 at halftime in a 27-17 win.

“Everybody was on Buffalo, and that was our biggest loss,” Murray said. “Josh Allen looked like a rock star in the first half.”

The Lions are still losers.

Judgment: Right Reaction.

Pity the poor bettor who put $175,000 on the Lions -2.5 at BetMGM. It was the right side and wrong result. It’s lazy analysis to put the blame on quarterback Matthew Stafford, who staked Detroit to a 23-6 lead entering the fourth quarter. Lions coach Matt Patricia’s defense collapsed, allowing the Bears to escape with a 27-23 win on Mitchell Trubisky’s three fourth-quarter touchdown passes. It was Trubisky, not Aaron Rodgers, and it’s inexcusable.

“When a team keeps losing close games or blowing big leads,” Murray said, “you have to look at the coach.”


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