It’s been a weird NFL season already and we’re just two weeks in. We’ve seen crazy upsets, last minute performances and officiating that would get a Pop Warner referee banned from his local Applebee’s for life.
But what’s really been nuts is the performance of underdogs. The dogs are certainly having their day and after 32 NFL contests over two weeks, the underdogs are 21-11.
That opening week was full of speed of lightning, roar of thunder and fighting of all who rob and plunder because “Underdog” was here and he went 12-4. It was best NFL version of the Westminster Dog show in 38 years. This had never happened before in the Super Bowl era.
In Week 2, the cry went out far and near for Underdog and he delivered, going 9-7 against the spread. Straight up (winning outright), dogs are 14-18 on the season. The American Kennel Club is killing it.
Sunday, it took the form of what should have been a game-winning Kansas City Chiefs drive that ended with a lost fumble. Or it was a Los Angeles Rams punt team member getting in the way of the snap before it could reach Johnny Hekker. That one was returned for an Indianapolis Colts touchdown.
We were a dropped fourth down pass from Jared Goff that should have been a touchdown from getting another one Monday night in Green Bay.
By the way, lots of enticing underdogs on the board at MaximBet this week…I’ll be back with my fearless picks on Friday.
What’s Happening With NFL Underdogs?
I have some theories, mainly because I’ve picked plenty of these correctly. I think that last season’s playoff teams are being perceived as stronger than they are. Teams like the Las Vegas Raiders, Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals are in make-or-break years and they’re already leaning to the “make it” side.
I think everyone is too in love with the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills and sleeping on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans. I think you can’t count on the Seattle Seahawks to show up and play four quarters of football without something completely insane happening multiple times, good and bad. At this point a UFO could land at the 50-yard line of Lumen Field in the third quarter and my only reaction would be to go on Twitter and post, “Called it!”
Ultimately, this will right itself as it always does. We’ll all, as an industry, get it figured out, or at least think we have until Zach Wilson posts a 158.3 passer rating in a 42-10 curb stomp of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 17.
But, hey, this is what makes it fun.
Thursday Night Football
Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans (+7.5, 44)
Plenty of football teams at every level can thrive on the “Nobody believes in us” mantra. They use it to motivate themselves, stay fired up and prove the doubters wrong.
I am here to tell you right now, today, I believe in neither of these teams.
I don’t care that the Panthers are 2-0 with Sam Darnold appearing to live up to his original 2018 pre-NFL Draft hype that got him selected No. 3 overall. I do not give a single solitary shit that the Texans are 1-1 and averaging 29 points a game with Deshaun Watson playing Fruit Ninja on his Microsoft Surface tablet on the sidelines.
I am on team “Nobody” here in the “believing in us” debate when it comes to the Panthers and the Texans. They might as well be fielding rosters of ghosts, Loch Ness monsters and Mothmen. In the preseason, I thought these franchises were two of the three worst teams in the league. I definitely believed in that.
Now you’re telling me Tyrod Taylor is out with a hamstring? Rookie Davis Mills, out of Stanford, is probably getting the start for Houston. That’s supposed to make me believe? Who’s his backup going to be, Bigfoot?
Ultimately, the most difficult thing about this game for me to believe is the Panthers starting the 2021 season 3-0. But here we are.
Panthers 23, Texans 10
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Adam Greene is @TheFirstMan on Twitter.