2008 NFL Running Back Situations May 14th, 2008
By: NFL Handicapping Staff
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NFL Furious Football Betting Opinion – Question Marks In Backfield
Yesterday, I analyzed some of the new tag-teams in the NFL and projected on how they would affect the online betting trends heading in to the 2008-09 NFL Season. Still, there are a plethora of teams that have questions at running-back, largely because they have so many. Here are some of the tried and tested tandems that you need to keep your eye on before you go lumping money on the NFL futures we have in our BetUS sportsbook.
You have Young Hugg and Michael Bush waiting in the wings. Add Darren McFadden to a team that 130.4 yards per game and you have a recipe for danger in the AFC West. The Chargers, Chiefs and Broncos all have question marks, and the Raiders could surprise some people with McFadden exploding on to the scene.
Yet the betting faithful of the Black and Silver beware – this team has too many question marks elsewhere (namely rush defense and passing the ball with an unproven quarterback), but one thing you wont’ have to worry about is this rushing attack. Three solid, young backs and an offensive line that is only good at blocking for the run makes the Raiders platoon a dangerous one.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
When Cadillac went down against the Carolina Panthers with a hideous knee injury, the Bucs looked screwed. Michael Pittman is a powerful, bicep-flexing runner, but he was never an every-down guy. Then came Earnest Graham, who rushed for 898 yards, 4.0 yards per carry on 222 attempts with ten touchdowns, rewarding fantasy football waiver wire wizards and the Tampa betting faithful alike.
Everyone was waiting for the bubble to burst with Graham, but it never did, and the Bucs cruised to an NFC South Championship and a playoff berth. With Cadillac likely shelved for most of the upcoming season, Graham will get the start again. Tampa averaged 117.0 rushing yards per game, and will lean on the rushing attack again en route to another NFC Championship.
Overall, I think Tampa is a great sleeper team because they play in such a horrific division. So, at +1400 to win the NFC Championship, I don’t’ see a better value out there.
Holy crap what is going on here? They have LenDale White, a bruising fat boy who proved he can carry the load last season. To spell him, they have the elusive Chris Henry. Now they drafted Chris Johnson for no explicable reason, leaving tons of solid linemen and receiver on the board (they ended up with Lavelle Hawkins…whoop-dee-do). On top of that they have Vince Young, who still runs all the damn time! I’m not even bothering with trends or stats here because the Titans are wheeling themselves in to the dirt way before anybody can hop on this betting bandwagon heading nowhere.
Deuce McAllister / Reggie Bush – New Orleans Saints
Yikes. The Saints may go marching on, but it’s not going to be behind these two. I love Deuce. He’s an outstanding back, but health has been a problem for this guy for four straight seasons. When he’s healthy, he’s insanely productively. In an injury shortened season, he was averaging 3.8 yards per carry but failed to notch a touchdown.
Then there was Reggie Bush, who accumulated 581 yards rushing, 417 receiving yards and six total touchdowns. The problem with Reggie, as always, is that he has learned from the Willie Parker School of Hard Knocks. The mantra is “run for three-yards, instead of losing four trying to break off a big gain”. Maybe if they move Reggie to wear NFL scouts have him projected at, as a slot receiver, the numbers will improve.
But Coach Payton’s gameplans aren’t becoming creative enough to adapt to Reggie’s strengths. Couple that with Deuce’s growing injury concerns and the Saints at +900 isn’t a great bet.
Julius Jones / T.J. Duckett – Seattle Seahawks
Let’s face it – the Seahawks had to get rid of Shaun Alexander. How many times could Seahawks fans bear to watch Shaun run out of bounds instead of taking a hit for two extra yards? For my money, not much.
Enter Julius Jones, the brother of Jets running-back Thomas Jones, a very strong runner who was overshadowed by the insanely violent style of Marion Barber. Now Jones gets a second chance on a team with a very strong focus on the passing game. Seattle barely averaged 101.5 rushing yards per game last year…and now that looks like an impossible task.
Jones is a shifty runner, who has a mountain of beef crashing for small gains to cover the downs in Duckett, but the offensive-line in Seattle has collapsed in recent years, and now Mack Strong is gone. I hate Seattle’s chances in the playoffs to begin with, but at least Jones brings some credibility to a running game that has been a joke for two straight years.
Fred Taylor / Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars
Taylor and Mojo combined to lead Jacksonville to the playoffs in 2008, steadying the team with 149.4 yards gained on the ground. Mojo’s season was highlighted when he lit up “Light’s Out” on a savage block. Taylor is ageless, and until he shows signs of slowing down (which he hasn’t at all…ever), the first-time pro-bowler, Jacksonville will be a punishing ground force.
What’s to like even more about this team is the signs of life the passing game showed last year with steady-eddy, David Garrard, at the helm. Now that he has viable weapons like Jerry Porter and Reggie Williams (finally!), teams can’t stack the line against Taylor or Maurice. A balanced means trouble for opposing defenses, and profit for the Jags’ betting investors at +900 to win the AFC Championship.
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