Cam and RGIII in Young QB Showcase

Cam and RGIII in Young QB Showcase

It's an odd NFL Sunday indeed when the most talked about early game amongst sports bettors matches a 1-6 team and a 3-5 team. But, that's what most will be watching on the big screens at Las Vegas sportsbooks when Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers visit Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins.

YOUR MARQUEE QB MATCHUP

  • The Heisman Trophy winner from two years ago visiting the Heisman Trophy winner from last year.

  • A guy you see all the time in Gatorade commercials visiting a guy you see all the time in Subway sandwich commercials.

  • A potential future superstar who's enduring a sophomore slump visiting a potential future superstar who's still in his honeymoon period.

  • Two athletes who can spin off a highlight reel play at the drop of a hat...then pick up the hat and throw it to adoring fans.

  • Two talented starts who have inspired a lot of discussion about whether they're "styles" are truly suited to longterm NFL success.

In Las Vegas, it's not hard to find respected professional wagerers who believe NEITHER of these two will have substantial careers. There's always skepticism about quarterbacks who do a lot of damage with their legs sprinting past defenders. Speed is fickle, and leg injuries are common for speedsters. Vince Young didn't last very long even though he hit the ground running. Kordell Stewart was "slash" for a few months because of his versatility. Even Tim Tebow from last year wasn't allowed to keep a job because you have to THROW to win consistently in this league.

Can Cam Newton and RGIII bust that recent trend and reach true stardom? Or, is what's being perceived as a sophomore slump by Newton already a sign that this style just won't work in the NFL? A year ago September, Newton was setting records that had fantasy football fans in ecstasy. Right now, his Panthers are 1-6 straight up, 3-4 vs. Las Vegas expectations.

RGIII has made some breathtaking plays in his first two months of action. But, his Redskins are 3-5 straight up, and are dead even 4-4 vs. the Vegas numbers. That's not bad for a rookie...but it's not exactly announcing a future Hall-of-Famer either.

Here are keys sports handicappers must think about as they study this early Sunday matchup, where Washington is favored by -3.5 on its home field.

HANDICAPPING KEYS

  • Is Newton starting to meltdown emotionally from the pressure? He's losing his cool on the field and in postgame interviews. Scuttlebutt from team sources suggests he's not as popular as you'd think with his teammates because of his tendencies to blame others for his own mistakes. Everything had always come so easy to him on the field in high school and college. How will he handle his first long stretch of adversity?

  • Is Carolina handling Newton properly? Strong-minded coaches will shield their young quarterbacks from what they're not ready to do yet. You see that a lot already with Washington and Mike Shanahan. Griffin is running a very safe offense that's designed to avoid turnovers and keep things simple as Griffin learns the ropes. Did Carolina throw Newton to the wolves figuring he'd just run away from them?

  • Can Carolina play two good road games in a row? The Panthers led Chicago most of the game last week in the Windy City, and clearly outplayed them in the stats. Losing teams often lose their spirit after dropping a heartbreaker against a playoff caliber team. You certainly don't want to bet Carolina if they left everything on the field last week.

  • Can Washington be trusted as a favorite? It's telling that they've only been favored twice this season, and they didn't win either game!

Washington (-3.5) lost at St. Louis 31-28
Washington (-3) lost at home to Cincinnati 38-31

The Redskins are 0-2 straight up as favorites in 2012, but 3-3 straight up as underdogs! Running a conservative offense helps you hang with good teams, but can prevent you from getting distance from lesser teams. Combine that with Washington's very poor defense this season...and this is a dicey favorite indeed.

What a challenging game for handicappers and bettors! Enjoy watching...but don't force a Las Vegas bet unless you're truly confident of your side (or total).

Delayed Steelers Deal with Sandy

The Pittsburgh Steelers won't be flying into New Jersey until Sunday morning for their late Sunday afternoon showdown with the New York Giants. Hotels were filled as the New York/New Jersey area continues to recover from the tragedy of hurricane Sandy. From the safe confines of Las Vegas, handicappers and sports bettors must determine how ready Pittsburgh will be to play.

An example of what can happen in a situation like this occurred Friday Night in the NBA. The Miami Heat saw the devastation on their lengthy (timewise) trip to Madison Square Garden. They had barely any intensity at all in a blowout loss to the Knicks. Carmelo Anthony and Company were playing for their hard hit home city. How can a visitor bring peak intensity to a road game near so much damage?

Some handicappers believe that Pittsburgh flying in on game day is a big negative for the Steelers. It messes up their normal preparation. Jet lag shouldn't be an issue on that short a flight...but teams do love their game-day routines. Some guys on local radio anticipated a Vegas line move when it was announced that Pittsburgh wouldn't fly in until Sunday.

Well, that line move didn't happen. Professional wagerers didn't bite. And, many are now wondering if flying in that late will actually help shield the Steelers players from what happened to the Heat. Pittsburgh can bring tunnel vision to a game they desperately need in their NFC North race with the Baltimore Ravens.

I can tell you this. The GIANTS are going to show up with a lot of emotion. They made way too many mistakes in a lucky win at Dallas last week. There may be some rustiness because of all the week's distractions...but EMOTIONALLY, I expect the Giants to play for their region the same way the Knicks did.

If Pittsburgh matches that intensity...we're going to see a truly great game that will have a Super Bowl feel to it. If not, then the Giants will win by at least a touchdown and cover the Vegas number. Remember that Pittsburgh has road losses this year to Oakland and Tennessee. The Giants are a lot better than those teams.

Will Pittsburgh play like a Super Bowl contender? Or, will they play like the team that lost in Oakland and Tennessee?

Click here for 3 late plays, my top side, dog, and total.

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