Posted 09/10/2012 at 07:10 PM
The focus of the opening NFL weekend was on the five rookie quarterbacks. Only Robert Griffin III emerged as a winner in an impressive debut but he benefited from facing a very weak defense in New Orleans. Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson made some good plays against excellent defensive teams but ultimately there will be a learning curve. Brandon Weeden and Ryan Tannehill certainly had forgettable debuts. Overall sloppy play was the norm on Sunday as there was not a turnover free game and only the 49ers/Packers game had fewer than two turnovers heading into Monday night. Philadelphia and Cleveland played one of the ugliest games in recent memory with both QBs throwing four picks. Matthew Stafford and Drew Brees both had turnover filled games as well coming off record shattering numbers last season. The debut of Peyton Manning in Denver stole the spotlight Sunday night and Denver looks like they may be able to survive what is a brutal early season schedule.
While the officials will take some heat for a couple of major mistakes, the errors were more technical procedural errors. The overall quality of the in-game calls seemed mostly seamless as there were no more questionable calls than there would be with the regular officials as for the most part the crews stayed out of the way. There were some mistakes in the process however, most notably Seattle getting an extra timeout in what could have proved to be a game-changing mistake had the Seahawks converted. In the Sunday night game there were mistakes with allowing a challenge to be called after a play was run and also calling for the 2-minute warning before a conversion attempt but those are mistakes that can be easily fixed with more experience and did not impact the game. The picked up flag on the Green Bay punt return was the most egregious on-the-field mistake but there is a controversial subjective call of a similar nature made every single week no matter who is calling the games.
For the second straight week college football delivered a 30-point underdog winning outright as Louisiana-Monroe stunned highly ranked Arkansas. Arkansas along with three other ranked teams dropped deep out of the rankings with upset losses for Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Oklahoma State as well. The Big Ten had a rotten Saturday with six teams losing, including going 0-3 vs. the Pac-12. Only one of the six Big Ten winners was playing a major conference team (Northwestern) and Michigan did not exactly impress in sneaking by Air Force. Just two weeks into the season and there are already only five teams that made to 2-0 from the conference. The SEC has eight 2-0 teams and two of the one-loss teams lost to fellow conference foes.
FCS teams had another strong week as North Dakota State, Sacramento State, Illinois State, and Northern Arizona all won over FBS teams. North Dakota State was actually favored and is the #1 FCS team in the rankings so it was not a big surprise and Illinois State was only a field goal underdog. Upset alert this week for Iowa and Baylor as they both play two strong FCS programs. Favorites did poorly in college football last week, particularly the big favorites as chalk over 30 went just 4-13 ATS.
Don’t underestimate the impact of a tumultuous off-season as teams like Arkansas and the New Orleans Saints that had a lot of distractions and were forced into coaching changes and both had ugly losses last week. Best of Luck, on to this week’s slate…