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Dublin: 10 °C Thursday 15 November, 2018

Vampires, Bill Belichick and your NFL week 2 preview

The Patriots head coach does not have a great record of producing quality coaches, writes Steve O’Rourke.

Bill O'Brien and Bill Belichick
Bill O'Brien and Bill Belichick
Image: UPI/PA Images

Updated Sep 16th 2018, 9:32 AM

BRAM STOKER NEVER played in the NFL. It’s unlikely he even played flag football, to be honest. But the Dubliner could write, even if he was something of a one-hit wonder.

That hit, of course, was Dracula.

While Stoker obviously didn’t invent vampires, his work has defined the genre ever since. Everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Count Duckula and Twilight to True Blood can trace their roots back to Stoker’s story.

It’s not just on-screen either: countless authors have also sought inspiration in Transylvania. The best of them is Justin Cronin whose trilogy, The Passage, will soon to be made into a big-budget TV series with Zack Morris from Saved By The Bell.

While Cronin’s work isn’t so much about counts or castles or maidens sleeping in just the right way to leave their neck exposed, it does share one characteristic with Stoker’s work — namely, kill the master and you also take care of all the vampires he helped produce.

Thankfully for NFL coaches, it seems the apprentice doesn’t always live up to the master so you can leave your stakes and garlic at home.

This is especially true for the greatest coach of them all, Bill Belichick. In week one, all three of his former assistants who are currently head coaches in the NFL lost.

NFL: JUL 26 Patriots Training Camp Source: Fred Kfoury Iii

Belichick himself was responsible for one of the defeats as New England cruised past the Houston Texans while their AFC South rivals, the Tennessee Titans — coached by Mike Vrabel — played the longest regular season game in NFL history only to lose to a poor Dolphins team.

Finally, Matt Patricia, on whom much of the blame for the Patriots’ Super Bowl LII loss was placed, saw his side destroyed by the New York Jets on Monday Night Football.

Following last weekend’s games, here are the head coaching records of Belichick apprentices:

  • Bill O’Brien 31-34 (.477)
  • Nick Saban 15-17 (.469)
  • Eric Mangini 33-47 (.413)
  • Josh McDaniels 11-17 (.393)
  • Romeo Crennel 28-55 (.337)
  • Matt Patricia 0-1 (.0)

Combined, Belichick’s proteges have won less than 35% of their games as head coaches in the NFL and, as you can see, not a single one has a winning record.

Yet, year after year, Patriots assistants remain in high demand. Both coordinators nearly went this season.

It’s almost as if NFL teams don’t know what they’re doing.

Week 2 picks (season record 10-5-1)

Sunday – 6pm

Cleveland Browns @ New Orleans Saints (-10)

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns Winless Cleveland have already guaranteed a better season than 2017 Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Only Cleveland could have a tie and gain a better record than they did all of last season but the game against the Steelers shows how well they can compete this year.

Though this spread is way too high for a New Orleans’ defence that played like they never met each other before last weekend, they should get back on track in this one.

Pick: Saints

Indianapolis Colts @ Washington (-5.5)

NFL: SEP 09 Bengals at Colts Colts QB Andrew Luck returned in Week 1 Source: Zach Bolinger

Andrew Luck missed more than 600 days through shoulder injury and, for some reason, the Colts had him throw the ball 53 times last week. That’s not good for Indianapolis long term.

There’s something a bit ‘Dad’s Army’ about Washington but they got the job done last weekend and should find themselves 2-0 this Sunday.

Pick: Washington

LA Chargers (-7.5) @ Buffalo Bills

NFL: SEP 09 BILLS AT RAVENS Josh Allen of the Bills Source: Icon Sportswire

It’s a long, long time since I watched a team as bad as Buffalo. And they’ve already made a quarterback change.

What a shame they can’t change the entire offensive line or defence.

Pick: Chargers

Kansas City Chiefs @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-4)

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

If we were basing this match-up purely on last weekend, you’d expect the Chiefs to be 15-point favourites — especially if Ben Roethlisberger is so careless with the football again.

However, Andy Reid is just 1-4 against Mike Tomlin since moving to Kansas City, never winning at Heinz Field, and that means something.

Pick: Steelers

Philadelphia Eagles (-3) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Falcons Eagles Football Philadelphia Eagles' Jay Ajayi scores a touchdown on opening weekend Source: Matt Rourke

It certainly wasn’t pretty as the Eagles began their Super Bowl defence, especially at quarterback and, let’s be honest, had the Falcons a half decent offensive coordinator they’d be 0-1.

Tampa Bay pulled off probably the shock of the opening weekend but are we in for more Fitzmagic in week two? Probably not.

Pick: Eagles

Carolina Panthers @t Atlanta Falcons (-6)

NFL: JUL 27 Panthers Training Camp Greg Olsen is out 'for a few weeks' after refracturing his foot Source: Jay Anderson

Injuries to tight end Greg Olsen and right tackle Daryl Williams could be a big problem for Carolina who made light work of the Cowboys last weekend.

Atlanta’s defence played well in the season’s opening game but there’s no disguising their problems on the other side of the ball.

Pick: Panthers

Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets (-3)

NFL: New York Jets at Detroit Lions Sam Darnold recovered well from throwing a pick-6 with his very first NFL play Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Two teams that perhaps surprisingly won last weekend find themselves with a chance to gain a beat on a divisional rival this week. Sam Darnold throwing a pick-six with his very first NFL pass wasn’t ideal, but he recovered well.

The problems both sides had to begin the season haven’t gone away, though.

Pick: Jets

Arizona Cardinals @ LA Rams (-13)

UPI 20180911 Source: UPI/PA Images

Remember what I said last week about avoiding big spreads in divisional games? It holds true again in this week, even if Arizona is demonstrably a terrible football team.

The Rams only had the Raiders to beat in week one’s final game, but they didn’t look like world beaters in the process. Still, it’s the Cardinals.

Pick: Rams

Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers (-)

Bears Packers Football Aaron Rodgers is hurt after being sacked by the Bears Source: Morry Gash

I’ve already written this week that we don’t deserve Aaron Rodgers, and we might not get him this Sunday as the star quarterback has had to sit out most of practice with a sprained knee.

The Vikings impressed last weekend and will look to make a statement in their division.

Pick: Vikings

Sunday – 9.05pm

Detroit Lions @ San Francisco 49ers (-6)

Lions 49ers Football Jimmy G Source: Jim Mone

Jimmy Garoppolo finally lost an NFL game last weekend but there’s a huge difference between that Vikings defence on the road and Patricia’s Detroit defence.

My worries about Garoppolo’s weapons remain, but they should get back to winning ways in the first of the late games.

Pick: 49ers

New England Patriots (-1) @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Patriots Ramsey Trash Talk Football Source: AP/PA Images

Fun fact to impress your mates with in the pub before this AFC Championship Game rematch; the Jacksonville Jaguars are the only AFC team never to beat Tom Brady (0-8). I say you need to use it before the game because it won’t be true afterwards.

Pick: Jaguars

Sunday – 9.25pm

Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos (-6)

NFL: AUG 10 Preseason - Lions at Raiders Ah, for the love of... Source: Samuel Stringer

The Raiders resigned Martavis Bryant this week, despite the fact he is possibly facing a year-long suspension so, you know, they definitely know what they’re doing.

Pick: Broncos

Monday – 1.20am

New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys (-3)

NFL: SEP 09 Jaguars at Giants Eli Manning and rookie running back Saquon Barkley Source: Rich Graessle

Fair’s fair: Eli Manning didn’t look awful last weekend but he was lined up across from Blake Bortles where even I’d look good at quarterback.

Dallas were woeful in their season opener and a loss here could make it a long last season for Jason Garrett.

Pick: Giants

Tuesday – 1.15am

Seattle Seahawks @ Chicago Bears (-3.5)

Seahawks Bears Football Khalil Mack ran amok in Wisconsin in Week 1 Source: Jeffrey Phelps

The Bears learned two valuable lessons last week against the Packers. The first is that Khalil Mack — three tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and a pick six — is priceless.

The second is that you can’t play not to lose in the NFL, especially against Aaron Rodgers.

Pick: Bears

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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