Mailbag – Volume 1

Published on Aug. 8, 2012, at 11:36 a.m. Eastern.

By Brian Edwards

David (Las Vegas): Brian, I’m looking at several big underdogs in Week 1 like Ark St. and Hawaii? Any thoughts on those or any other dogs in Week 1 college?

BE: David, I don’t have either of those games on my radar. As for ‘dogs, I’m strongly considering La. Tech and Ohio and might have Western Michigan on my radar if that number moves to double digits.

Thomas (Iowa City): Thoughts on my Hawks and any UFC 150 plays??? What’s next for Chael Sonnen? I hope he moves to 205 and fights Rampage!

BE: Thomas, I really don’t think Iowa is going to be that good, BUT the schedule is beautiful! The Hawkeyes will undoubtedly be favored in their first five games and have an excellent chance to be 5-0 going into East Lansing off an open date. No. Illinois and Iowa St. are capable of pulling moderate upsets in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively, but that won’t happen unless Iowa plays poorly and loses the turnover battle(s). I like QB James Vandenberg a bunch (25/7 TD-INT ratio last year) and the stud LBs (Morris and Kirksey), but RB Marcus Coker and WR Marvin McNutt will be sorely missed. I like Iowa’s win total ‘over’ 7.5 as it should be favored in eight of 12 games, possibly nine if it gets the nod from oddsmakers at Northwestern.

As for your UFC questions, I like Melvin Guillard at +240ish odds (as of Wednesday) against Donald Cerrone in Saturday’s co-main event. That’s a toss-up fight that should be a stand-up war. I think Chael has a lot of options and going up to 205 appears attractive. However, I don’t think we’ll see Rampage in the Octagon again after he gets beat by Glover Teixeira at UFC 153. Rampage has plenty of cash and I just don’t think he has the hunger anymore. This is the last fight of his contract and unless something changes (which is always possible), he’s going to be done in the UFC. If Jackson trains hard and finds a way to beat Teixeira (I don’t see that happening!) and then mends fences with Dana White, I do think a trash-talking war with Chael and/or Rashad Evans would make for interesting fights and, most importantly, motivate Rampage to prepare the way he needs to succeed.

Roger (Destin, Fla.): Brian, love your new radio show but haven’t heard it on the last few days. Is it not daily? Who do you think wins the SEC divisions and how many games do the Gators win?

BE: Roger, thanks for listening to my show. For those unaware, The Brian Edwards Show has started recently on WNWF Fox Sports Radio (1120 AM) from 3:30-5:30 Central. And yes, Roger, it is daily Monday through Friday. But you are correct that we weren’t on the air several days last week because one of those thunderstorms (they’ve been daily recently) damaged a bunch of equipment. We’re now back on the air and I’m hoping we’ll be streaming the broadcast live on before the end of the month.

I think we’ll see LSU and South Carolina in the Ga. Dome. The Gators are such a mystery because the quarterback position is such a major question mark. I have no doubt that Florida is going to have one of the nation’s top-five defenses. If QBs Jeff Driskel and/or Jacoby Brissett can provide decent production, I think the Gators go at least 8-4. Now if one or both develop into a good QB, then 9-3 or even 10-2 are possibilities. On the flip side, if both look like they did last year as true freshmen, then the Gators are going to be awful for a third straight year. But to judge those guys on last year would be unfair – neither should’ve been playing but the injuries to John Brantley forced Will Muschamp’s hand.

Sonny (NJ All the Way!): B, how is Frankie getting these underdog odds, are u kidding me?? Should I pounce on him now or are the squares going to keep taking Henderson and get the odds even better for Frankie? And what’s your take on Tebow/Sanchez?

BE: Sonny, I had Henderson for a winner in their first meeting but that was basically a pick ‘em. I do think Henderson prevails again but the price is too expensive for me. I would think, if anything, the late action would be on Edgar so if you can get +180ish right now, I think you go ahead and get that now. But that’s total speculation on my part.

As for the Jets, I think the criticism by the likes of Boomer Esiason and just about everyone at ESPN is ridiculous. Tebow is pushing Sanchez and that’s a great thing for Sanchez and the Jets. Remember, he was too comfortable the last few years with an over-the-hill Mark Brunell as his back-up who was ZERO threat to get him benched. And Tebow will be outstanding in short-yardage situations and in the Wildcat down in the red zone. And if Sanchez gets hurt, you’ve got a guy with experience and leadership abilities who has proven he can win in the NFL. This scenario has been in place once and the result was the Gators winning the 2006 national title with Chris Leak playing well and Tebow dominating in short-yardage/red zone situations.

Todd (Atlanta): Is this the year the Falcons get to the Super Bowl? Are they the team from a futures standpoint to back? Does Mike Smith get fired if they don’t win in the postseason?

BE: Todd, I think Atlanta is going to have a dynamite offense with Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez and Michael Turner, but I have questions on the other side of the ball. Asante Samuel needs to have a big impact, Sean Weatherspoon has got to have a big year. How much does John Abraham have left in the tank? Is Peria Jerry finally going to live up to the potential he showed during a dominant senior year at Ole Miss? I think there’s the potential for this team to make noise in the playoffs, but I don’t have a ton of confidence in it. Before Mike Smith arrived, the Falcons had never had back-to-back winning seasons in franchise history, and now they’ve gone 4-for-4 in terms of winning seasons with Smith. So I think he’s safe after this year but zero postseason success in 2012 could have him on the hot seat in 2013. I think the Ravens are the team with the most generous future odds. I got on them at 17/1 a few weeks ago.

Ron in Reno: Is there a college or NFL team that you think is under the radar? Not exactly for future or win total bets but just a team you think could be a big surprise.

BE: I don’t know if the Bears are under the radar but I think they’re poised for a monster season. Jay Cutler finally has great talent around him and it’s going to show. In college, let’s not forget who the head coach is at Boise St. Chris Petersen lost a lot of talent, but the Broncos are still going to be very good. I like Joe Southwick as Kellen Moore’s replacement and let’s not forget about a talented RB in D.J. Harper who will thrive with more touches. Plus, BSU returns two outstanding wideouts in Matt Miller and Mitch Burroughs, who combined for 111 catches for more nearly 1,200 receiving yards and 10 TDs last year. And I’ll give you one more non-BCS team to watch and that’s La. Tech. I touched on them in my Week 1 Upset Alerts column.

Seminole Steve (Pensacola): Brian, are the Noles a true national-title contender? What type of year does E.J. Manuel have?

BE: Steve, I’m not drinking the E.J. Manuel Kool-Aid. I think the ‘Noles are overrated for about the 12th straight year. They haven’t had solid QB play since Chris Weinke left after the 2000 campaign. FSU will have an outstanding defense and since it plays in a mediocre league, 10-2 is a possibility, but that’s not close to national-title contention. I think the ‘Noles lose at Va. Tech and will stumble either at South Florida or at N.C. St. (more likely against the Wolfpack, but USF’s B.J. Daniels did light them up in Tally a few years ago.) And home games against Clemson and Florida will also be tough.

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