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First and Goal – It’s Another “Reunion” Week in the NFL

November 2, 2013

It’s Another “Reunion” Week in the NFL

It seems like we have had a few meaningful “reunions” in the NFL this season. If you notice, they all seem to involve Peyton Manning. Early in the season we had the “Manning Bowl,” which was a duel with brother Eli, and something was not suspenseful. Then there was the “homecoming” game for Peyton as he returned to Indianapolis and Lucas Oil Stadium, and that didn’t turn out too good for him at all.

Last week Mike Shanahan came back to Denver, this time on the sideline with the Washington Redskins. Manning probably doesn’t know Shanahan too well, so he did him the courtesy of allowing him to dream about a win, as the Redskins (are we allowed to use that name?) took a 21-14 lead into the fourth quarter. Well, that was pretty much the end of that, as Manning threw for three touchdowns, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie helped out with a pick six.

What the Broncos (-300 to win the AFC West in the futures odds at Bovada, even though they’re a game behind in the standings) demonstrated was that you may hang around for while, but they have the capacity to blow right by most teams at any time. NFL bettors will keep that in mind when Denver comes back to action after its bye week. Washington will also have that in mind as it plays host to San Diego (making its third east coast trip of the year) on Sunday at FedEx Field, where they are one-point underdogs in the pro football betting odds.

Okay, now we have some more of these reunions, and thankfully they don’t have ANYTHING to do with Peyton Manning.

Jeff Fisher spent all or part of 17 seasons coaching the Tennessee Titans; so long that when he got the job initially, they were the Houston Oilers. He got the franchise to the playoffs six times and led them to their only Super Bowl appearance. Now he is coaching the St. Louis Rams, and the Titans come to town on Sunday.

It’s got to be kind of bittersweet for Fisher, especially since Bud Adams, the original owner of the Oilers (since 1960) recently passed away. Fisher had the longest tenure of any coach in the NFL at the time he departed, after the 2010 season. What was unusual is that originally he was going to be retained to coach the final year on his contract, but problems started to arise about “the direction of the team.” what this meant was that Fisher had signed defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil to a contract extension although Adams fired him, and was exceedingly slow in being able to hire coordinators and other assistants for the next season because he was in a “lame duck” year. Ultimately, after Fisher voiced his desire to hire his own son as a quality control assistant, and that was not really welcome.

The two sides gave the impression of an amicable parting of the ways, and Fisher sat out the next season before resurfacing in St. Louis.

The Titans’ current head coach, Mike Munchak, is a real “lifer” with the organization, and had been Fisher’s offensive line coach for fourteen years. So needless to say, the men know each other very well. Munchak, incidentally, is the only Pro Football Hall of Famer in a head job in the NFL. This Sunday, his Titans are three-point favorites over the Rams in the pro football odds that are posted at Bovada.

Rex Ryan and Rob Ryan are twins, although the two have not achieved the same level of success. The sons of legendary defensive coordinator (and former head coach) Buddy Ryan have both had notable careers as defensive coordinators, but Rex got the opportunity to be a head coach, with the New York Jets, and took the team to consecutive trips to the AFC title games in his first two seasons. His team is now 4-4 and still in the playoff hunt, but the Jets are smarting from a 49-9 shellacking they took at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals last weekend and are chomping at the bit for the chance to take aim at the New Orleans Saints, who visit the Meadowlands in a game where the NFC South leaders are favored by six points in the NFL betting odds.

The Saints have improved on defense, and that is one of the reasons they come into this game with only one loss. And the change in the defense can be attributed largely (and we DO mean “large”) to Rob Ryan, who had been jettisoned by the Dallas Cowboys after last season.

The Saints gave up more yards than any team in NFL history last season. This year they are 11th in the league. Right now one would have to say that Rob has more job security than Rex. And Rob is in the precarious position is having the ability to push Rex a step or two closer to the door. Yes, the Jets are at .500, and Rex may indeed be a viable candidate for coach of the year for doing this with a rookie quarterback (Geno Smith). But Rex unquestionably is on a short leash. He could easily have been sent packing along with general manager Mike Tannenbaum. He almost hired his brother as the defensive coordinator after the Dallas firing, but he had already decided to give Dennis Thurman the job.

This game brings up an interesting proposition involving those handicapping the NFL odds. Both of the brothers are unique in that they run a defense that is a variation of Buddy’s “46” look that was so successful for several teams, namely the Chicago Bears who won Super Bowl XX. Would that afford one of these teams the edge?

Certainly Rex knows the approach Rob is going to take against his offense. Does he have the personnel to exploit the cracks in the New Orleans armor? Rob knows his brother’s style, but Rex’s fingerprints are not all over the Jets’ offense the way Rob’s are on the Saints’ defense. You can try to figure that one out all day.

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About the author

Eric Roberts
Eric Roberts

Sports Journalist

Eric has been a sports journalist for over 20 years and has travelled the world covering top sporting events for a number of publications. He also has a passion for betting and uses his in-depth knowledge of the sports world to pinpoint outstanding odds and value betting opportunities.