Eddie Lacy well on his way to 2013 NFL Rookie of the Year

eddie-lacy-rookie-of-the-yearWhen the 2013 NFL season began, Montee Ball and Tavon Austin were the favorites in terms of betting odds for the Rookie of the Year award. We at GTBets.eu had both players at 9/2 odds of winning the award. Eddie Lacy, on the other hand, was only in the middle range as far as odds went.

Nevertheless, the bruising running back from the Green Bay Packers is well on his way towards the 2013 Offensive Rookie of the Year. With two games remaining in the season, Lacy has 1,048 rushing yards on 248 carries (4.1 YPC). He’s also reached the end zone 8 times and has added 31 catches for 236 yards. But while Lacy’s stats may be impressive, what really sets him apart from other candidates is his performances in big games.

Last Sunday’s contest against the Dallas Cowboys was a perfect example of this. With the Packers needing a win to stay in the NFC North title race, they got a giant boost from their rookie ball carrier. Lacy racked up 141 rushing yards and a touchdown on just 21 carries. What’s especially noteworthy about this game is that the 230-pounder was playing on a tender ankle.

eddie-lacy-rookie-of-the-year-1Thanks in large part to Lacy’s gritty performance, the Packers are now just a half game behind Chicago for the NFC North title. Seeing as how they get a crack at Chicago on the final week of the season, it’s entirely possible that Green Bay could win the division and go to the playoffs. But even if they don’t, Eddie Lacy is still looking like the favorite to win the 2013 Rookie of the Year.

So who’s his main competition at this point? Well, it appears that San Diego wide receiver Keenan Allen is the only player who can capture the award. Allen has hauled in 63 passes for 923 yards and 7 TD’s, which is no doubt an impressive campaign. Plus his team still has a shot at the postseason since San Diego is sitting at 7-7.

With both players fairly similar in terms of offensive production, what may ultimately set these two apart is how they rank relative to their positions. Lacy easily wins the battle here because he’s ranked 7th among running backs in rushing yards. Meanwhile, Allen’s 923 receiving yards only place him 21st among the league’s wideouts.

It’s also worth mentioning that Lacy has had to shoulder his team’s offensive load in the absence of Aaron Rodgers. Sure Matt Flynn has had his moments, but it’s Lacy creating for his fill-in quarterback, not the other way around. Contrast this to Allen, who’s often overshadowed by the guy throwing him the ball, Philip Rivers.

Of course, the ROY race could easily be determined by which one of these teams makes the playoffs too. But for the moment, it looks like Lacy has the inside track towards being the league’s best offensive rookie.

Terrelle Pryor: All Hype or for Real?

terrelle-pryor-raidersGoing into the 2013 NFL season, the Oakland Raiders were once again expected to be one of the league’s worst teams. Their previous tack record certainly didn’t project success onto this season, considering that they haven’t had a winning record since 2002. And with a roster full of holdovers from last year’s 4-12 squad, there was little enthusiasm entering 2013.

But here we are two games into the regular season, and there’s plenty of excitement surrounding the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The reason why is third-year QB Terrelle Pryor, who, before the preseason, was merely projected to be Matt Flynn’s backup. However, the 24-year-old distinguished himself by showing flashes of brilliance and, combined with Flynn’s poor play/injuries, grabbed the starting job.

Since taking over the starting reigns, Pryor has led Oakland to a 1-1 record, which may not immediately look impressive – especially when their lone win comes from the atrocious Jacksonville Jaguars. However, a narrow 21-17 loss at Indianapolis says more about this team than anything. After all, Indy made the playoffs last season and should battle for a postseason berth this year too.

As for his stats, Pryor has compiled 343 passing yards, 162 rushing yards, a touchdown pass and two interceptions. Obviously the passing stats leave something to be desired, however, the 81 rushing YPG stat is what has everybody’s attention. But is a quarterback with great legs and a developing throwing ability enough to help the Raiders compete with the league’s elite teams? Looking at the immediate future, do they have any chance to beat Denver on Monday night?

terrelle-pryor-raiders-1Well if you’re looking at the sportsbooks, the odds aren’t good. We at GTBets.eu have Denver as a -15 favorite, which is the widest spread in the league this week. And it’s hard to bet against Peyton Manning and Co. when you consider what they did to the Ravens and Giants. Few people would even put Oakland in the same class as these teams yet.

However, Pryor seems to have his head on straight going into this matchup and seems pretty focused. “Peyton’s great and I can’t let that get into mind,” he stated. “I have to play my game and focus on my team. He’s going to make big plays and I can’t go in there and say, ‘I’m going to fire back too, because he is.’ I need to go down for down, one play at a time, and take my time. That will be a lot better than going in and trying to match back to back and force some things.

“I don’t want to get too excited about a stage or anything like that. At the end of the day, I still have to drop back and play quarterback and help this team win. I don’t want to get too excited. I know there’s a big task ahead against one of the greatest quarterbacks ever; Peyton’s a Hall of Famer. I just have to go handle my business as 1/11th of the offense and get us in good position to score.”

Pryor makes a good point about only being part of the offense. After all, he does have a rejuvenated Darren McFadden helping him out in the backfield. Through the first two games, McFadden has 177 yards and a TD on 36 carries, along with 7 receptions for 46 yards.

Of course, most eyes will be on Pryor rather than McFadden this Monday. And while nobody’s really picking the Raiders to win, they’ll be expecting another entertaining performance by the Raiders new QB. Now the only question is if Pryor can live up to the hype that’s been set ahead of him.

NFL Power Rankings for September 17th, 2013 (Week 3)

russell-wilsonIt’s always hard gauging how good certain teams are following the first week of the NFL regular season. And while two games aren’t a perfect barometer either, this at least provides a little more information on who some potential playoff teams are. This being said, you can expect to see two woeful teams from last year, in the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs, make big jumps in our Week 3 NFL power rankings.

1. Denver Broncos (2-0); beat New York Giants 41-23, retains same ranking – It’s much harder picking a number one this week than last, due to Seattle’s stellar play. But for our money, Denver is still top dog after another dominating victory. And what’s amazing is that this defense doesn’t even have Champ Bailey or Von Miller yet.

2. Seattle Seahawks (2-0); beat San Francisco 29-3, moves up 2 spots – After a narrow win over Carolina, Seattle came out and destroyed their NFC rivals. Marshawn Lynch powered the offense with 98 rushing yards, 37 receiving yards and three total touchdowns. And the defense stifled Colin Kaepernick despite not having CB Brandon Browner, DE Bruce Irvin or SS Chris Clemons.

3. New Orleans Saints (2-0); beat Tampa Bay 16-14, retains same ranking – It took a late Garrett Hartley field goal, but the Saints were able to pull off this tough road win. Jimmy Graham continues to impress after piling up 179 yards on 10 catches. The defense is also playing well after allowing just 31 points in the first two weeks.

4. Houston Texans (2-0); beat Tennessee 30-24 (OT), moves up 3 spots – Houston finally seems to have found a solid receiver to play deandre-hopkins-texansopposite Andre Johnson. DeAndre Hopkins grabbed eight balls for 117 yards and a touchdown in just his second career game. As usual, the run game was strong with Ben Tate and Arian Foster combining for 182 yards on just 28 carries.

5. San Francisco 49ers (1-1); lost to Seattle 29-3, drops 3 spots – You could make a case for San Francisco falling even further. However, Seattle is a tough place to play, and the Niners did just beat Green Bay last week. You can bet that this early season blowout loss will fire them up over the next few games.

6. New England Patriots (2-0); beat New York Jets 13-10, drops 1 spot – It’s hard to move this team down because A) they’re the Patriots, and B) they’re undefeated. However, the offense is going through some obvious growing pains with a completely new lineup of receivers.

7. Green Bay Packers (1-1); beat Washington 38-20, retains same ranking – This was even more of a blowout than it looked on paper thanks to Aaron Rodgers’ 480 passing yards and 4 TD tosses. But the pass protection wasn’t ideal as Rodgers was sacked four times. We’re still waiting to see what Eddie Lacy can do too since he had a subpar first game and was knocked out on his first carry against the Skins.

8. Atlanta Falcons (1-1); beat St. Louis 31-24, retains same ranking – Atlanta got pretty banged up in this one after seeing several players, including Stephen Jackson, head for the locker room early. But Matt Ryan (374YDS, 2TD) and Julio Jones (182RYDS, 1TD) were able to do enough to hold off a scrappy Rams team.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1); beat Pittsburgh 20-10, retains same ranking – The Cincinnati defense is as good as it was advertised this past aj-green-footballoffseason. And the Bengals offense is filled with weapons, including AJ Green, Tyler Eifert and Giovanni Bernard.

10. Chicago Bears (2-0); beat Minnesota 31-30, retains same ranking – The Vikings kept it close with a kickoff return score and a returned-fumble TD. But once again, Chicago got some late-game heroics from Jay Cutler after he found Martellus Bennett for a TD with 10 seconds left. We still need a few weeks though to see if the Bears pass protection keeps holding up like this (just 1 sack allowed).

11. Miami Dolphins (2-0); beat Indianapolis 24-20, moves up 5 spots – The Dolphins leap up our rankings thanks to a win over a playoff team. Ryan Tannehill is definitely showing why the Dolphins drafted him in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft while WR Mike Wallace and TE Charles Clay look like potent receiving threats.

12. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0); beat Dallas 17-16, moves up 7 spots – It’s still early to tell, but Kansas City looks like a team capable of grabbing a Wild Card spot in the AFC. Alex Smith has provided steady quarterback play while Jamal Charles and Dwayne Bowe are explosive weapons who could turn any play into a touchdown.

13. Baltimore Ravens (1-1); beat Cleveland 14-6, moves up 2 spots – In a week where a lot of mid-range teams lost, Baltimore won and moves up…simple as that. The offense wasn’t anything to brag about, but the defense did sack Brandon Weeden five times, eventually sending him to the locker room in the fourth quarter.

14. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1); lost to San Diego 33-30, drops 3 spotsmichael-vick-1There’s no denying that Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense is putting points on the board. And it seems to have rejuvenated the careers of Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson. Vick threw for a career-high 428 yards, while Jackson hauled in 10 catches for 193 yards last game. But the question is, what’s this fast-paced offense doing to the defense?

15. Detroit Lions (1-1); lost to Arizona 25-21, drops 4 spots – After a ton of hype surrounding Reggie Bush and the Lions, the buzz was deflated as they lost to Arizona. When Bush went down with a left knee injury, this turned into the same Detroit team from last year. The Lions’ fortunes may totally hinge on how healthy their star running back can stay.

16. Dallas Cowboys (1-1); lost to Kansas City 17-16, drops 3 spots – Dallas really failed to take control of the NFC East after losing this close one. When looking at the passing stats, it’s almost hard to figure out how the Cowboys scored just 16 points. Tony Romo threw for 298 yards, 1 TD and no interceptions while Dez Bryant burned KC for 141 receiving yards and a TD.

17. Indianapolis Colts (1-1); lost to Miami 24-20, drops 3 spots – With everybody losing around them, Indianapolis avoids a freefall. The Colts did sack Tannehill five times, which is a definite positive. Also, Andrew Luck piled up 321 yards and a TD through the air. But it’s tough to see this team making the playoffs again with the improvements made by Wild Card candidates like Miami and Kansas City.

18. St. Louis (1-1); lost to Atlanta 31-24, retains same ranking – Last week’s game looked like it was going to get out of hand when Atlanta went up 24-3 early. But St. Louis stormed back thanks to Sam Bradford finding some of his young receivers for scores. Tavon Austin, Chris Givens and Austin Pettis are going to be one formidable receiving trio to deal with.

19. Arizona Cardinals (1-1); beat Detroit 25-21, moves up 6 spotscarson-palmer-arizonaCarson Palmer is the QB solution that Arizona was searching for all of last season, while Rashard Mendenhall is providing something of a running game. If this team stays healthy, it could finish over .500 for the first time in years.

20. San Diego Chargers (1-1); beat Philadelphia 33-30, moves up 8 spots – Did Phillip Rivers just decide to take a couple years off, then come back strong in ’13? He’s thrown for 714 yards, 7 TD’s and just 1 INT through two games. The latter stat is a huge turnaround from last year.

21. Tennessee Titans (1-1); lost to Houston 30-24 (OT), drops 3 spots – There’s no shame in losing to the Texans in overtime. But it’s still a loss nonetheless and so the Titans drop in our rankings. There’s reason for optimism since Jake Locker showed some surprisingly good accuracy late in the game as he threw for a pair of touchdowns.

22. New York Giants (0-2); lost to Denver 41-23, drops 5 spots – As a team that usually comes in with Super Bowl aspirations, this is a tough position to be in. Eli Manning has thrown an alarming seven interceptions already. David Wilson has failed to solve the running game, while veteran Brandon Jacobs doesn’t appear to be anything more than TD vulture.

23. Buffalo Bills (1-1); beat Carolina 24-23, moves up 2 spots – Rookie ej-manuelQB EJ Manuel played like a 10-year veteran as he engineered a game-winning drive – capped off by a 2-yard TD throw to Stevie Johnson. If he keeps playing like this, Buffalo will have a complete offense.

24. Washington Redskins (0-2); lost to Green Bay 38-20, drop 2 spots – The Skins have been largely non-competitive in their first two games. Robert Griffin III has only managed to play well when the dogs have already been called off.

25. Minnesota Vikings (0-2); lost to Chicago 31-30, drops 2 spots – Had the defense held Chicago on the game-winning drive, we might be talking about Minnesota being a team in the 14-18 range. But as it is, they’re 0-2 with a below-average quarterback.

26. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2); lost to Cincinnati 20-10, drops 2 spots – This is a shame since the defense is so good. Pittsburgh might want to abandon the running game altogether.

27. New York Jets (1-1); lost to New England 13-10, moves up 2 spots – The Jets have been very competitive on the road, with both games being decided by a combined 4 points. When New York returns home, they could be somewhat surprising.

28. Oakland Raiders (1-1); beat Jacksonville 19-9, moves up 3 spots – Oakland’s 6-point loss on the road to Indy last week says more than their win over the Jaguars. Still, head coach Dennis Allen has brought some respect to this organization.

29. Carolina Panthers (0-2); lost to Buffalo 24-23, drops 8 spots – The pass protection has looked pretty bad for Cam, and he’s been sacked seven times already. If it wasn’t for his elusiveness, this figure would be in the double digits.

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2); lost to New Orleans 16-14, drop 3 spots – The Bucs have their running back of the future in Doug Martin. If things keep up like this, they could turn to their quarterback of the future, Mike Glennon, earlier than expected.

31. Cleveland Browns (0-2); lost to Baltimore 14-6, drops 1 spot – Time to start worrying about Brandon Weeden at quarterback? Trent Richardson has really been bottled up (31CAR, 105YDS) due to a serious threat from the passing ame.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2); lost to Oakland 19-9, retains same ranking – This is shaping up to be one of the worst offensive teams in NFL history. At least backup QB Chad Henne can advance the ball past the 50-yard line though.

Ravens, Broncos kick off 2013 NFL Season Tonight

broncos-ravensThe 2013 NFL season is here as the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens kick the season off tonight (September 5th) at 8:30 ET. Last year saw the Ravens pull of a shocker after they beat Denver 38-35 in a Divisional Playoffs round. And this was only a prelude to Baltimore’s even more surprising run to the Super Bowl title.

But this is a new year, and the Ravens are a very different team. We recently broke down their chances of repeating as Super Bowl champions, and we think that it’s going to be a long shot. This especially the case when you consider that their team changed so much over the summer. For this reason, GTBets.eu has the betting line on tonight’s game as follows:

Baltimore  (-115)  Over 48.5 (-110)
Denver -7.5 (-105)  Under 48.5 (-110)

With Denver being over a touchdown favorite tonight, they are definitely expected to win. But before you make a bet, you might want to check out our analysis of the matchup.

Preview of Denver for Tonight’s Game

peyton-manningThe Broncos are fairly large favorites on our line mainly because they’re playing at home, and this team returns so much talent. In regard to the latter, quarterback Peyton Manning headlines the returners after a season in which he threw for 4,659 yards with 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

His receiving corp is going to be a huge factor tonight as well. Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker are coming back after finishing 1-2 on the team in receiving. Wes Welker is a new addition to Denver as he came to them via New England in the offseason. After posting numbers of 1,354 yards and 6 touchdowns, he’s ready to step in and contribute immediately.

The Broncos running game is more of a question mark entering this year. As a team, they averaged 114.5 rushing YPG, which ranked 16th in the league. In an effort to boost their ground attack, Denver drafted Wisconsin standout Montee Ball in the second round, but he’s going to share touches with Ronnie Hillman and Knowshon Moreno to open the year. So it’s anybody’s guess as to how things will turn out in this first regular season contest.

This team will have more questions on the other side of the ball after losing DE Elvis Dumervil to a delayed fax in the offseason and LB Von Miller to a six-game suspension. These players combined for 29.5 sacks last year, so their absence will really hurt Denver’s pass rush tonight. Plus cornerback Champ Bailey will miss this game too. However, they still have interior lineman Terrance Knighton and Kevin Vickerson plugging the middle as well as new addition Shaun Phillips rushing the outside.

Preview of Baltimore for Tonight’s Game

joe-flaccoJoe Flacco returns under center after inking a massive 6-year, $120 million deal this past offseason. Flacco’s incredible playoff run earned him this money, as he tossed 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions in the postseason. Now everybody wants to know if he can look just as impressive in the regular season.

He won’t be helped by the fact that receiver Anquan Boldin went to the San Francisco 49ers. But at least Flacco will still have Torrey Smith to throw to, who collected 98 yards and two TD’s in the last meeting between these squads. Running back Ray Rice will be a huge key to this game as well. He picked up 1,143 rushing yards and 478 receiving yards in 2012.

Most of the uncertainty regarding Baltimore stems from their losses on defense. Safeties Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard, linebackers Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe, and cornerback Cary Williams all went to other teams through free agency. Plus franchise linebacker Ray Lewis retired after winning his second Super Bowl.

But the Ravens did do their best to reload by picking up Dumervil, Chris Canty, Marcus Spears, Daryl Smith and Michael Huff during the offseason. This group will have to gel fast if they want to stop Manning and the Broncos vaunted passing game tonight.