There is a common school of thought that if a good team loses their opening game they will come back with a big effort in second week action.
It can be, but it doesn’t have to be.
In my first year with the Oakland Raiders, 1973, we opened in Minnesota and lost to the Vikings. In second week action, we hosted the defending Super Bowl Champion Miami Dolphins who had opened with a win to extend their winning streak to within one game of the all-time NFL record. In 1972, the Dolphins completed the only modern day perfect season.
In other words, without ending the Dolphins two seasons winning streak the Raiders would open their campaign with back-to-back losses. The point spread had the Dolphins favored over the Raiders in that second week game.
What we have here is perfect motivation for the Silver and Black. They were not coming off their opening day loss with ideas that winning their second game was in the bag. With that spike in motivation, the Raiders did beat Don Shula and his Dolphins to end their long winning run and even their season record at one game up and one game down.
Now, what happens to a good team that loses their opener and is confident that a win in second week action is as secure as the vault at Fort Knox?
This is horrible motivation … that is a loser that thinks they have an easy win on the horizon based on playing what they consider an inferior opponent.
We are going to get a firsthand view of this factor on Sunday when the defending National Football Conference Champion San Francisco 49ers bounce off their home loss to the Arizona Cardinals with a road game against the New York Jets.
The talk after the 49ers lost their home opener was not how poorly the 49ers played, but rather how improved the Arizona Cardinals are this season. Arizona’s second-year quarterback, Kyler Murray, looked every bit the star that he was projected to be when the Cardinals selected him first overall in the 2019 draft.
Last Sunday, Murray made good decisions in the pocket, kept his focus down-field even when pressured by the 49ers powerful defensive front, and beat the Niners with both his arm and legs.
While the Cardinals prospects for this season were heightened after their win against San Francisco, not too many people in the Bay Area were yet overly criticizing their home team.
That could change after this week’s visit to the East Coast.
The Jets lost their opener in Buffalo, the Bills beating them by double-digits. Now they open their home season while looking down the gun barrel of opening the 2020 season oh and two. They know they need to play their best to survive getting blown out by the highly regarded 49ers, while the 49ers, who also could open defense of their NFC title with a pair of losses, don’t fear that prospect.
In fact, it might now sink in until they are on their quiet plane ride home.
Qoxhi Picks: New York Jets (+7) over San Francisco 49ers