Cam Newton / Plus New NFL Coaches

Handicapping News: Cam Newton

One of the trickiest challenges for NFL handicappers this year will be making proper assessments about potent second year quarterback Cam Newton. Newton takes the field for the first time in 2012 TONIGHT when the Carolina Panthers host the Houston Texans in a Preseason game that will be televised nationally by the NFL Network.

Last year Newton took the league by storm with an opening month that will never be forgotten.

422 passing yards in the season opener at Arizona
432 passing yards the next week against Green Bay
A win in a torrential downpour vs. Jacksonville where nobody had good stats
374 passing yards on the road at Chicago

Passing for over 300 yards is a big game...and passing for over 350 yards is a monster. Newton had three monsters in his first three games in real football conditions! Fantasy players went crazy. All the highlight shows went wild with talk of the game's newest superstar. Oddsmakers adjusted on the fly as Carolina kept covering most of their early spreads. Longtime sportsbook veterans had seem high quality rookies before....but never something quite like this.

The buzz stayed around Newton all year because he always had fantastic "season to date" stats even though his production slowed way down. He wouldn't throw for 400 yards again, or even 300 yards again. He had seven games where he threw for less than 225 yards. Instead of suffering through growing pains at first then exploding once he got the hang of things. He exploded early but then suffered the growing pains when defenses finally respected him and adjusted to his tendencies.

The decline was partly hidden by a soft second half schedule. Carolina beat Tampa Bay twice after the Bucs had quit on their head coach and blown off the season. Carolina beat Indianapolis when the Colts were losing every week to lock in the #1 draft pick. That was three GIFTS in the second half of the season. When not accepting those gifts:

Carolina (-3.5) lost to Tennessee 30-3 (Newton passer rating 61.7)
Carolina (+7) lost to Detroit 49-35 (Newton passer rating 50.2)
Carolina (+3) lost to Atlanta 31-23 (Newton passer rating 67.9)
Carolina (+4.5) beat shorthanded Houston 28-13
Carolina (+7) lost to New Orleans 45-17 (Newton passer rating 75.1)

That's 1-4 straight up against teams who would finish with winning records. And, the win came against Houston with T.J. Yates as the opposing quarterback. Not much for the media, fantasy players, or even handicappers to buzz about there unless they were fading Newton vs. quality. 

Which Cam Newton will we see this year? Will he adjust now that the league has adjusted to him? All in all, he still seems right on track for a solid career. Carolina was better than the bad teams in 2011, and could put a scare into most good teams they faced even if they were destined to fade at the end. You start from 6-10 with a young team...and that puts you in the neighborhood of .500 and maybe Wildcard contention if key players mature.

All THAT is why you should be paying close attention to Newton in Saturday Night's TV game with Houston. If you get a read on him, and how he's adjusting to defenses, then you will be in position to best Vegas expectations when the regular season begins. Oddsmakers underestimated him at first, but then overestimated him when he was facing decent opposition down the stretch. That can happen with electric talents (as we saw with Kordell Stewart and Vince Young, two quarterbacks with similar styles to what Newton brought to the table right out of college).

 

Coach Ron Meyer: Studying New NFL Head Coaches

It's very important that you pay particularly close attention to new head coaches during the NFL Preseason slate. You can make big money by getting in synch with teams who are trying to get results right now because of a new coach. And, you can profit on Over/Unders as well if you know which side of the ball the new coach is going to be emphasizing (particularly in the dress rehearsal games in the third week).

I noticed when the exhibition schedule was first posted that opening weekend featured TWO matchups where new coaches were set AGAINST EACH OTHER. I made a note then to highlight these games as important opportunities for serious study.

The first was Friday Night's"Battle of Florida."

Tampa Bay: Greg Schiano (former Rutgers head coach)
Miami: Joe Philbin (former Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator)

The second will come up on Sunday in a game that will be nationally televised live by the NFL Network.

St. Louis: Jeff Fisher (former Tennessee Titans head coach)
Indianapolis: Chuck Pagano (former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator)

I'll talk about some of the other new head coaches in future articles. For now, let's focus on those four men. We have a very interesting mix that spans both sides of the ball, both ends of the experience spectrum, and even both college and pro football! As a former head coach myself (with SMU during the Pony Express years in the colleges and then in the pro's with New England and Indianapolis), here's what I'm looking for from these four men in August.

GREG SCHIANO
I'm one of the few guys myself who made a successful transition from college to pro football on the sidelines. I have to tell you, it was a tougher transition than I expected...and it took me awhile to adjust. I think Schiano is going to be in for a big surprise, particularly in his preferred role as a disciplinarian. You can do that in the colleges when kids don't have many other options. In the pro's, the players are much less likely to tolerate dictators at the head coach position. Schiano may help bring focus and attitude to the franchise. Over time, this style just doesn't work in the NFL. Plus, handicappers know Schiano was often a"bet against" coach in the colleges! I had a dominant team at SMU and it was a big adjustment for me. Schiano largely had mediocre teams in terms of the national scale while at Rutgers.

In the Preseason? Well, the team did play well in their exhibition opener, which suggests that Schiano DOES have everyone's attention right now. I'll remember that next week when they host Tennessee. And, their dress rehearsal at home against New England might get interesting.

JEFF FISHER
This man is such a known quantity that there's not much to say. He established a track record with Tennessee. You know his teams will be physical...will try to run the ball...and will break your heart if they make the playoffs! Because the Rams are about to take the field Sunday, I'm NOT going to go into many details here. What I've learned from Fisher during his past years coaching exhibition games is one of the key factors behind the selection I've posted for customers.

JOE PHILBIN AND CHUCK PAGANO
Mirror images. A great offensive mind who's going to create a wide open style in Miami...then a great defensive mind who's going to create a smash mouth style in Indianapolis. It's not hard to figure out what the points of emphasis are going to be this month for these teams. This will loom large over my dress rehearsal picks for these teams. Right out of the gate...it's tougher because each coach is trying to figure out what he's got.

Miami DIDN'T look very good on offense vs. Tampa Bay. But, they were also giving a lot of pass attempts to rookie Ryan Tannehill out of Texas A&M. I know this is going to frustrate Philbin because the last thing great coordinators want to do is try to win with rookies at key positions!

Pagano will be dealing with a bad defense in Indy, but I've always believed that it's easier to build a good defense quickly in the NFL than it is a good offense. Schematics and attitude play a bigger role. And, it's not hard to find athletes who can tackle. It's a lot harder to find skill position players who can truly have a big impact. The media will be all over the Andrew Luck story with the Colts. Yes, he's the #1 pick and is supposedly on the path to superstardom. Right now, you need to focus on what Pagano is doing with the defense, and then what Luck can do in terms of ball control and smarts on offense.

You'll be able to purchase my pick in St. Louis/Indy Sunday morning here at the website. Remember that's a DAY game, so take care of business before lunch. Game day releases always go up a few hours before kickoff in football and first pitch in baseball. Please check out my very affordable rates for the rest of Preseason or all of football. If you have any questions about my service, please call my handicapping office at 1-877-540-8787. Be sure to check on baseball offers when you call. Nobody thinks of using a football coach for baseball picks...but KNOWING HOW TO WIN works for handicapping ALL SPORTS!

If you've been struggling with your Las Vegas betting, it's time to put A COACH IN YOUR CORNER. Hook up with RON MEYER today!

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Nov

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