My pick was Tennessee -3. It was an unlucky push when Buffalo scored a safety. I thought it might be interesting to some of you to see how i interpreted the facts in this blog to arrive at the selection. Below is the analysis published in my Hall of Fame pick package:
The line in this game has been skewed by three factors.
1. All they hype about the presence of WR Terrell Owens in the Buffalo lineup.
2. The fact that Buffalo is 3-0- in Game 1 with Dick Jauron coaching in the preseason, which some are saying indicates that he gets the team ready to play. Buffalo is on a 5-0 run overall in Game 1, which means nothing at all.
3. Buffalo is 7-0 as an underdog in the preseason over the past 3 years, which is probably supposed to mean that the team looks at the line and only tries to win when they are an underdog. More nonsense.
Were it not for the above three factors, however, Buffalo would probably be a 6-point dog.
The Terrell Owens hype is great for selling newspapers and getting hits to websites, and getting the public all excited, but Owens is likely to have a minimal effect on the game. In fact, don't blink or you'll miss him on the field. Even if he were going to get enough playing time to make a difference in the game, the connection between Ownes and Buffalo QB Edwards has not exactly had the time to ripen and become intuitive yet.
As for the 3-0 trend in Game, it is too short term to say it was caused by anything except luck, or the quality of the teams that Buffalo happened to meet in Game 1. Of more significance is the fact that Dick Jauron is a coach who treats the preseason with disdain when it comes to trying to win. He is just 12-20, a hideous 37.5% straight up in the preseason.
Jauron's job is likely on the line this year after another losing season last year, but his job has been up in the air before, and that hasn't caused him to put up an effort in the preseason. Performing in the Preseason won't save his job. Performing in the regular season will.
While it is true that Buffalo could use some good publicity in this rare National TV appearance, winning is not essential. Disillusioned or not, the Buffalo fans are going to sell out the stadium. What else is there to do in Buffalo in the winter? The city is the country's left armpit, although it is suprerior to the right armpit -- the city of Detroit.
The only knock on Tennessee here is that they started camp on July 31. That's a full six days later than Buffalo. In fact it's later than many of the teams that don't play for another week. There was only one practice in pads. Titans coach Jeff Fisher has decided to go very lightly on the team before the season starts. That plan has been tried before by other coaches, and has not worked well.
Despite the light physcial preparation, however, Fisher spent the entire day with his team on Friday going over a speicific game plan for Buffalo. Normally, in the preseason teams don't make a game plan spefically for the opponent. They plan, instead, around the things that they as a team want to look at or work on. When a team prepares a game plan specifically for thie opponent in the preseason, it usually means they want to win, and the preparation also usually means they do win..
If Fisher wants to win, he has the personnel to do so with or without extra physical conditioning. Edwards and the starters will only play 1-2 series for Buffalo, and Collins and the starters will play the same amount for the Titans. After that, for Buffalo we'll see Ryan Fitspatrick and Gibran Hamdan split the rest of the game, withg Baker appearing in the 4th quarter. .
As you may know, the Crowne Club is an information network. One of our members, a journalist in upstate New York, attended the Buffalo practices. He reports that the play of both Fitzpatrick and Hamdan has been horrible. The passes of both were weak, low, wobbly and errant.
By comparison, for Tenessee we'll see Vince Young play for an antire half. Young was the starter last year before being injured. He will be motivated by a desire to take over the starting spot again, as well as by the fact that if he doesn't perform after his injury he could be replaced by Patrick Ramsay in the #2 spot. Ramsay will be motivated to keep the #2 position he held last year, and will also play hard.
One of the most important factors in the preseason is the depth of each team. In this case there is just no comparison. You can be sure that the three QB's for Tennessee will be playing hard and have gotten themselves ready no matter what the general attitude of Fisher. Buffalo has had six extra days to prepare, but the information we have is that their backups probably need six extra weeks if they even have the talent to be ready then. Combine that with the fact that Fisher has worked on a specific game plan and is 29-26 striaght up in the preseason while Jauron is 12-20 and the porbabilities lie with Tennessee to cover the 3 points.
Tennessee's starting Center is out, which does not mean as much as it might in a regular season game.
It will be nearly 90 degrees in Canton, which means conditioning may make some difference. We will give Buffalo's better conditioning enough respect to keep this play small.
Go with Tennessee -3 as a one-star play.