Sunday, September 07, 2008
TONY SOPRANO OR BRETT FAVRE ...... IT'S ALL GRAVY TO ERIC MANGINI
NFL WEEK 1
NEW YORK JETS @ MIAMI DOLPHINS
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS @ BUFFALO BILLS
ARIZONA CARDINALS @ SAN FRANCISO 49ers
Sopranos actor and part time Jets coach Eric Mangini, not only kept his job after going 4-12 last season, but was given a blank chequebook and spent $140m signing Brett Favre (!), Alan Feneca (in possession of the biggest contract ever given to an offensive lineman) , Calvin Pace, Tony Richardson and Kris Jenkins. Jets are right to give Mangini more time, he learnt the game from Bill Belichick from the bottom up and is a coach of unlimited potential.
Actually, he is over a year younger than Favre, who game out of the shortest retirement in history, to join New York, in the most talked about trade of the off season.
The schedule has thrown up an incredible opening day meeting with the Dolphins, who snapped up Jets QB Chad Pennington, after he was ditched in favour of Favre. No doubt he will be fired up, to prove his former employers were wrong to let him leave, but not only will he have to get to know his team mates, but they will have to get to know each other ! Amazingly, over 50% of the 53 man Dolphins squad are newcomers. Surely they will take a little longer to gel.
Jets have won 7 of the last 8 meetings and will know Pennington's game inside out. I am happy to give up just three points on the handicap.
Seattle coach Mike Holmgren has announced his retirement and will depart at the end of this season. I never like it when such decisions are made public, it always seems to back fire and should be kept to the boardroom. Long time quarterback Matt Hasselback will start, but has barely practiced, or taken a snap in pre season. Offensively they will be much changed and are without Engram, Branch and Obomanu, one time star running back, Shaun Alexander, has finally departed.
I want to oppose the Seahawks and am happy to do so with a Bills team that look on the "up". They had the 7th ranked defence last year and that has been improved upon in the off season , but were woeful offensively. Having said that, rookie quarterback Trent Edwards went 5-5 and showed immense promise. He has a decent RB in Marshawn Lynch and in Hardy and Evans now has a pair of receivers to go to and suddenly, the offense has a balanced look about it. Home win.
Finally, the 49ers offense is expected to improve big time this year, it will have to,after being ranked the worst in the NFL last year! Offensive genius Mike Martz has been drafted in as coordinator, he brought with him JT O'Sullivan and in a matter of weeks, JT has earned himself the starting quarterback position. Two quality receivers in Bryant Johnson and Isaac Bruce, who worked with Martz for many years, have been signed and SF have scored quite freely in pre season.
Arizona have Kurt Warner at the helm and he worked for 5-6 years with Martz in St Louis, the pair winning a Superbowl together. MM probably knows Warner's game better than Warner and this gives a big advantage to the 49ers, who look attractively priced to get off to a winning start.
6 points New York Jets -3 points 2.09 Vegas Line.
5 points Buffalo -1 point 1.88 Vegas Line.
5 points San Francisco +1 point 2.14 Vegas Line.