Aging gracefully is not easy, although Tom Brady makes it appear so. A week ago, Brady took the field for the Buccaneers and made more history by becoming the oldest quarterback to start a game in the NFL at age 45.
While every news organization reported that as fact, doubts should be emerging: Are we sure Matt Ryan is not really in his 50s?
Some men age like wine and others age like milk, and Ryan is falling into the latter category. Ryan, reported to be 37, was picked up from a used-car lot in the offseason and the Colts forgot to check for a banana in the tailpipe. Buyer’s remorse must be setting in, because Indianapolis’ new quarterback is getting old fast.
Ryan threw three interceptions and was sacked five times Sunday as the Colts were clowned 24-0 by the Jaguars. Indianapolis, the preseason favorite to win the AFC South, was lucky to tie the Texans in Week 1 and is 0-1-1 after facing two of the worst teams in the league.
After Brent Musburger hosted his VSiN show Sunday morning, we watched the early games with Circa owner Derek Stevens in his box overlooking the sportsbook. Musburger reflected on Week 1 of the 2020 season when he used the Colts as his pick in the Circa Survivor contest. The Jaguars upset Indianapolis 27-20 as 8-point home underdogs, immediately eliminating Musburger and many others.
Considering how poorly the Colts played last week -- and knowing they have not won in Jacksonville since 2014 -- it was surprising to see an unlucky 13 contestants used Indianapolis as a Survivor pick.
“If you used the Colts in the Survivor contest, you deserve to get knocked out,” Stevens said.
The Jaguars are 6-30 in their past 36 games, with four of those wins against the Colts. As far as the Survivor contest is concerned, the bigger losers of the day were the 358 who picked the Browns, the 192 who picked the Bengals and the 77 on the Raiders.
In their latest embarrassment in Jacksonville, the Colts totaled only 218 yards and nine first downs. Ryan does not appear to be an upgrade from Carson Wentz, who was made the fall guy and traded to Washington after Indianapolis’ bellyflop in Jacksonville ended their playoff hopes last season.
But it’s early, obviously, so I asked VSiN host Jonathan Von Tobel, a Colts fan since he grew up watching Peyton Manning, if he sees hope for Ryan turning it around.
“No chance,” Von Tobel said. “He’s toast.”
It should be noted Indianapolis was without two of its top players in Week 2 — No. 1 receiver Michael Pittman and All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard — and can lean a little on the shorthanded excuse. Next up for the Colts is their home opener against the Chiefs, so the schedule is getting much tougher.
The heat will be on Ryan and coach Frank Reich. As always, time will tell if all of this is an overreaction to the Colts’ underwhelming start.
I bet the Jaguars + 3.5 on Sunday, so that was a positive. But I made only one Super Bowl futures bet this year — the Colts at 25/1 odds — and already have learned that was one Super Bowl futures bet too many. My bet on an old quarterback has led to buyer’s remorse.
After another wild Sunday, here are nine more things to know from Week 2:
Tua Tagovailoa is not terrible in the new-look Miami offense
With the Dolphins trailing the Ravens 28-7 at halftime, someone in the Circa sportsbook yelled, “Tua is terrible.” It seemed that was the case, and not much had changed when the score was 35-14 going to the fourth quarter. And then, all of a sudden, everything changed.
Tagovailoa passed for three touchdowns in a stunning seven-minute span, hitting Chiefs castoff Tyreek Hill for scores of 48 and 60 yards. With 14 seconds remaining, Tagovailoa connected with Jaylen Waddle on a 7-yard touchdown pass to lift the Dolphins to an improbable 42-38 win. Hill and Waddle each finished with 11 receptions, two touchdowns and more than 170 yards.
It was as if Tagovailoa was back at Alabama and throwing to wide-open receivers against the Vanderbilt defense … but this was in Baltimore. Tua was terrific, finishing 36-for-50 for 469 yards and six touchdowns. Some will claim it was a fluke, but you now must respect the Dolphins’ newfound firepower.
“Broadway” Joe Flacco and the Jets proved anything is possible
After the Browns went ahead 30-17 with 1:55 to go, Next Gen Stats showed the Jets had less than a 1% chance of winning. Of course, the NGS win probability model does not take into account the Browns’ history of bad luck or the magic of Flacco.
Cleveland’s missed PAT opened the back door for the Jets to cover as 6.5-point dogs. It took only 33 seconds for Flacco to find Corey Davis for a 66-yard touchdown pass that trimmed the deficit to 30-24. One minute later, after the Jets recovered an onside kick, Flacco threw the 15-yard game-winner to Garrett Wilson and the 31-30 final proved no NFL underdog is hopeless.
The Lions are worthy of being favorites in the future
A week ago, Detroit opened as a 1.5-point favorite against Washington, seemingly ending a 24-game streak of the Lions being underdogs. But the Lions did not close as dogs. The line closed pick’em at Circa and South Point, and Washington went off -1 at the Westgate SuperBook.
Stevens, a diehard Detroit fan, boldly said this before the game: “I think the Lions are going to kick their ass.”
Jared Goff passed for four touchdowns and the Lions led 22-0 at halftime en route to a 36-27 victory over the Commanders. There is a different feel about this Detroit team, and the Lions will be favored when they host the Seahawks in Week 4.
Derek Carr still pulls costly disappearing acts
This one should have been easy money for Las Vegas. With touchdown passes to Davante Adams and Darren Waller, Carr steered the Raiders to a 20-0 halftime lead against Arizona and its league-worst pass defense. But this one turned into a brutal, gut-wrenching defeat for the Raiders and their betting backers.
Carr was a no-show in the season-opener against the Chargers, leading the offense to only three points in the first half. This time he vanished in the second half as the Raiders held the ball for less than 10 minutes and Carr threw for 42 yards after passing for 210 before the half. Carr and coach Josh McDaniels got too conservative with a lead, and when you play not to lose, you usually lose.
McDaniels paid for a lack of play-calling creativity in the second half, when the Raiders had a few too many first-down runs up the middle. Carr failed to execute and played with no poise. There was plenty of blame to go around as Las Vegas’ defense completely broke down.
While Carr was asleep at the wheel, Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray went crazy by producing two touchdown drives and a pair of 2-point conversions in the final nine minutes of regulation. Arizona escaped with a 29-23 win in overtime when defensive back Byron Murphy Jr. scooped receiver Hunter Renfrow’s fumble and raced 59 yards for a score. The Raiders are 0-2 in a sour start to the McDaniels era.
“The three huge comebacks by the Dolphins, Jets and especially the Cardinals were all really good for us,” Red Rock sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “A really good day overall.”
Russell Wilson is not cooking and it’s a reason for concern
The Broncos, who have scored 16 points in each of their first two games, made it look ugly in a 16-9 victory over the Texans, who were 10-point underdogs. Wilson was 14-for-31 passing for 219 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Aside from first-year coach Nathaniel Hackett’s dubious game-management decisions, Denver’s biggest concern must be Wilson’s nonexistent running game at age 33. Wilson was always most dangerous and dynamic when using his mobility to make plays outside of the pocket. He did not run much last year in Seattle, and his slower feet are still showing. Wilson has completed only 59% of his passes and has a total of five rushing yards.
The Saints might be a talented tease
Brady now has a 1-4 regular-season record against New Orleans as the Tampa Bay quarterback only because the Buccaneers’ defense is elite. Brady was ordinary for the second straight week, but the defense intercepted Jameis Winston three times in a 20-10 win.
While the Saints seem to have most of the pieces to the puzzle, Winston’s weakness is his decision-making and frustrating penchant for throwing picks. It’s tough to bet on a quarterback who constantly turns it over. New Orleans will continue to be a tantalizing team for bettors because of its sturdy defense and variety of offensive playmakers. The Saints are 0-2 against the spread, however, and Winston is trending in the wrong direction.
Aaron Rodgers owns the Bears, so lay the points
Sometimes the handicap is simple. Rodgers is 24-5 in his starts against Chicago, which is why even the sharpest bettors who typically avoid big favorites were laying the 9.5 or 10 points with Green Bay on Sunday night. After a Week 1 loss, Rodgers is now 5-0 in Week 2, so the bounce-back angle paid off again.
The Packers do have plenty of concerns, though, starting with their inexperienced receivers and a defense that surrendered 180 rushing yards to the Bears. Rodgers, who passed for 234 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, opened as a 3-point road dog against Brady and the Bucs in Week 3.
The 49ers will be better off with Jimmy Garoppolo at QB
Second-year quarterback Trey Lance will not be taking the league by storm anytime soon. Lance is done for the season with a broken ankle and, although no one in the San Francisco organization would say it, the 49ers are more of a Super Bowl threat with Garoppolo as their leader. San Francisco’s Super Bowl odds actually improved at one sportsbook after the injury.
Garoppolo passed for 154 yards and a touchdown in relief to help the 49ers beat the Seahawks 27-7. San Francisco’s elite defense was on display, and it no longer has a looming quarterback controversy.
Dak Prescott’s absence was overrated, at least for a day
The speculation was brief, but for a day or two last week it seemed Dallas might be tempted to make a deal for Garoppolo to plug the hole left by Prescott’s hand injury. The Cowboys decided they could win with Cooper Rush, and Jerry Jones was right about his backup plan this time.
The overreaction in the betting market meant roughly an eight-point adjustment in the Bengals-Cowboys line, with Cincinnati getting as high as a 7.5-point favorite. Rush was good enough, passing for 235 yards and a touchdown in Dallas’ 20-17 win.
Rush was better than Joe Burrow, who was sacked six times behind an offensive line that was supposedly improved yet looks worse than last year. The hangover that hits so many Super Bowl losers is hitting Burrow and the Bengals.