Could the New England Patriots actually cut loose future Hall of Famer and GOAT Tom Brady this offseason? Seems preposterous but Brady is 40, and his highly-regarded backup, Jimmy Garoppolo, is entering the final year of his contract. One of them likely will be gone in 2018. Owner Robert Kraft said this week he not would stand in Coach Bill Belichick’s way if he wanted Brady gone. The NFL odds and lines for Week 1 are looking very interesting, but not all of them are safe. With that in mind, here are two games from NFL Week 1 to check out if you’re looking to bet on the losers.
When: Sunday, Sept. 10, 1 PM ET
Where: New Era Field, Buffalo
Radio: ESPN New York 98.7 FM (NY) / WCMF 96.5 FM (Buffalo)
Opening NFL Week 1 Lines: Bills -9.5
Taylor Will Play
I actually gave the Jets a chance here if Buffalo starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor was going to miss the game due to a concussion suffered in the preseason. Apparently that won’t be the case. Taylor has cleared the NFL’s concussion protocol and will start. If Taylor hadn’t been able to play, starting duties likely would’ve fallen to Nathan Peterman, the Bills’ fifth-round pick.
Taylor is entering his third season with the Bills. Though they have just a 14-14 record in games he started for them, he has done plenty of good things, at least statistically. Taylor’s stats with the Bills: 37 touchdown passes, 12 interceptions, and a 94.2 quarterback rating. He is also always a threat to run, and he has 10 rushing touchdowns with the Bills. In Taylor’s four games against the Jets, the Bills are 3- 1. Taylor’s stats in those games: four touchdowns, one interception, 95.0 rating, and one rushing touchdown.
Expect to see new Jets receiver Jermain Kearse start for the team – that’s how weak they are at the position. Acquired from the Seahawks over the weekend, Kearse is still learning the playbook, but the Jets do not have the luxury of letting him take it slow.
“Obviously, he can catch the ball,” Coach Todd Bowles said of Kearse. “He has to get up to speed on the offense some so we can find out what he can do more of. We know he’s made big catches in big games. He’s very intelligent, good blocker, good team guy. [We] just have to see what his favorite routes are and things that we can do with him, and get a feel that way.”
Josh McCown will start at QB, but if he’s hurt then it will be Bryce Petty. Petty has been officially named the Jets’ No. 2 quarterback. Christian Hackenber’s stinker of a summer left the Jets no choice. Petty was excellent in the preseason, completing 32-of- 48 passes (66.7 percent) for 426 yards (8.9 YPA), three touchdowns and an interception. The Jets swept Buffalo last year but I take nothing from that.
Carolina Panthers at San Francisco 49ers
When: Sunday, Sept. 10, 4:25 PM ET
Where: Levi’s Stadium
Radio: WBT 1110 AM (Carolina) / KSAN 107.7 The Bone (San Francisco)
Stream Option: NFL Live
Opening NFL Lines: 49ers +5.5
How Healthy Is Newton?
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Cam Newton (shoulder) is “ready” for the season opener. Newton had surgery on March 30 to repair a partially torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. The 2015 NFL MVP was limited in throwing much of the first four weeks of training camp and played only one series — a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive — during the four preseason games.
“You wish he’d had a few more snaps and played a little bit earlier in the preseason so we’d have more to go on,” Rivera added. “But what we saw, we liked.”
Rivera doesn’t want Newton sitting in the pocket getting clobbered like he did during a difficult 2016 season that included a phone conversation with Roger Goodell in which Newton lobbied for the same protections from officials that other quarterbacks enjoy.
Thus the Panthers figure to employ more play-action passes and rollouts to slow down opposing rushers. Likewise, expect to see fewer zone-read option runs with Newton and more screen plays and draws to Christian McCaffrey and quick hitches and bubble screens to rookie wideout Curtis Samuel. While it’s only the third time the Panthers have opened the season on the West Coast, Carolina’s meeting with San Francisco marks the sixth time in Rivera’s seven years that the Panthers have started on the road.
The 49ers made one of the biggest splashes this summer hiring Kyle Shanahan as their new head coach. Last year he was Atlanta’s offensive coordinator. And in one game under him vs. Carolina. quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones totaled the most passing and receiving yards ever allowed by the Panthers and became the first teammates to have 500 yards passing and 300 yards receiving in a single game.
When Shanahan moved to San Francisco, he swapped the Falcons’ Pro Bowlers for quarterback Brian Hoyer and wide receiver Pierre Garçon. Garçon totaled a career-high 1,346 receiving yards under Shanahan in Washington in 2013 while Hoyer is a serviceable starter that excelled in Shanahan’s scheme
After missing every preseason game and only participating on a limited basis in a few practices recently, San Francisco 49ers free safety Jimmie War’s status for the regular-season opener remains up in the air. He is a projected starter.
The 49ers were bombed in Charlotte last year, 46-27. Newton threw for 353 yards and four touchdowns, and the Panthers overcame four turnovers. The Panthers racked up 529 yards on offense. Newton threw two TD passes to Kelvin Benjamin and one each to Greg Olsen and Devin Funchess.
Expert NFL Week 1 Predictions
Frankly, I’ll rarely pick a sure loser in a home game – home field is too important in the NFL and worth a good 3 points. But San Francisco loses. Buffalo will easily beat the Jets.