Don’t put much stock in NFL preseason performances

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Every year when the NFL preseason starts, I always tell myself not to put too much into what I witness so I don’t severely alter three-months of work already done for each team.

I already have my personal rating for each team on where they stack up and opinions on who should do well and who won’t. So why let three weeks of action in games – where players and coaches don’t care about winning – change what I think I already know?

I always try to make it a point not to be too influenced by what I see with only minor upgrades or downgrades on a few categories that make up a team’s rating.

So here are a few I made some final adjustments to based on preseason:

San Francisco

I had them with the Broncos just behind the Seahawks atop my ratings chart. After watching their sluggish offense in preseason, they have some things to work out. Through three weeks of preseason they had the worst offense and averaged only eight points a game. HC Jim Harbaugh was 8-4 in his previous three preseasons and doesn’t like to lose at anything. Even though QB Colin Kaepernick didn’t play too much, I’m dropping the Niners a notch. Might be some value in the first two weeks of the regular season by going against them.

Cincinnati

Rated them higher than most just because of the improvements Andy Dalton made in the offseason. He validated that trust during preseason. Dalton worked out with Las Vegan pitching coach Tom House to strengthen his arm following his third consecutive one-and-out playoff appearance. House helps pitchers coming off Tommy John surgery and others who want to build strength in their arm so they better themselves with velocity and help avoid injury.

The workouts have transformed Dalton into a much better QB with some zip on his out passes he never had before. He completed 70 percent of his passes in preseason and should be ready to take the next step during the playoffs. The Bengals are only a half-point behind the Patriots in my rating, which puts them just outside the top-5.

Jacksonville

The Jaguars are expected to win just five games and are considered the lowest rated team in the NFL. I can see them winning 7 and being very good ATS until the sports books’ rating catches up. QB Chad Henne had all summer to work with the first team offense and comes in way ahead of the game over last season when the Jags were strapped with Blaine Gabbert. Second year coach Gus Bradley has a lot of nice new pieces to work with and should be extremely tough in the weak AFC South.

Philadelphia

I love their offense, but their defense is another story. If they had just an average defense, they would be a top-10 team, but they don’t. Even though it’s just preseason, their defense looked worse than had been expected. They gave up 396 ypg last season and came back this preseason to allow an NFL-worst 425 ypg in three games. I’ve got them right there with another bad defense, the Bears, almost 7 points lower than Seattle.

Green Bay

I initially placed them in the top-5 and have increased their rating by a half-point based on the way Aaron Rodgers looks. He’s been so sharp in camp that he’s shaved off about 30 minutes from each practice because he doesn’t make mistakes. There’s still an upward hill to climb to get to the Seahawks’ level, but they’ll have a chance to show what they’ve got next week right out of the gate at Seattle.

Sunset Seminar

I just want to apologize for having the wrong date associated with the Sunset Station handicapping seminar that I wrote about last week. The event takes place this Thursday from 6-7 p.m. inside the race and sports book. It really does, believe me this time.

ESPN’s Hammerin’ Hank Goldberg, sports book radio’s Brian Blessing, along with host book director Chuck Esposito, will review all the main storylines for the football season and give great advice that should help pick some winners this season. Esposito will also be giving out free pizza and soft drinks to all who attend.

Texas A&M +10½ at S.C.

I’m real curious to see how the Aggies fare in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. A&M coach Kevin Sumlin had three players drafted by the NFL in the first round while Gamecocks’ coach Steve Spurrier has had three consecutive 11-2 seasons. Sumlin had the benefit of Johnny Manziel his first two seasons as coach and now he begins life without him. But is it really going to be that difficult?

The thing about Sumlin is he was producing great offenses way before Manziel. In five of his six seasons as a head coach between Houston and Texas A&M, he’s produced offenses that averaged over 500 yards a game. The system can make a player a star and we’ve seen it with Case Keenum and Manziel. So why not sophomore QB Kenny Hill, the son of former major league pitcher Ken Hill.

A&M led the SEC in total offense the last two years. Sumlin recruits players who can run the system at all positions and then lets the system fly. It’s almost fool-proof.

Look for the Aggies to start out fast, like they always do, and give Carolina a game, which makes taking +11 on the game sound nice. Despite losing a lot of players, the Aggies do return four starters from last year’s offensive line, which will help the young QB stay protected.

Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].

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