The Great American Passion has returned with the full start of NFL preseason football and there are plenty of reasons for fans across the country to be excited.
The two high profile rookies – quarterbacks Robert Griffin III of Washington and Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck – both looked very comfortable in their debuts. And, although the sample size consists of just a dozen or so snaps, both showed both poise and command and their respective fan bases have reasons to play the “what if” game this season.
Fans of the New York Jets may not have as many reasons to be optimistic based on their first preseason effort at Cincinnati. The offense lacks depth and the QB situation with Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow could be fractious.
After making the Playoffs in their first two seasons, the combination of coach Rex Ryan and QB Sanchez regressed last season. Although built around the defense, the Jets’ “D” is good but not good enough to hold foes under 14 points on a consistent basis. The offense needs help in many areas, not the least of which is at the receiver position. And that would complement only a rather ordinary running game.
The Week 2 lines come from LVH unless otherwise stated.
Bengals +3½ at Falcons (37): Both teams played well in their openers. The Falcons’ starting unit looked sharp before Baltimore did most of its scoring against backups. Cincinnati was effective in its 17-6 win over the Jets. Both teams made the Playoffs last season and should be more interested in developing depth rather than scoreboard results. UNDER.
Browns +4½ at Packers (38): Cleveland has concerns with its offense and needs to be aggressive in play calling. Green Bay is developing depth on both sides of the football and further advanced on offense than on defense. OVER.
Titans +3 at Bucs (37): Tampa Bay showed many good signs in its win over Miami and should build upon the many things that went well. The Titans have edges at quarterback and figure to give their receivers additional work. Titans.
Dolphins +4 at Panthers (36): With QB David Garrard expected to miss the start of the season Miami has to give added work to both veteran Matt Moore and rookie Ryan Tannehill. Carolina is set at the position and thus is less inclined to be as aggressive. Dolphins.
Lions +3 at Ravens (37½): Both teams are set at most key positions although each can use added depth at running back, suggestive of play calling geared more towards the run than the pass and effectively shortening this game. UNDER.
Bills +2½ at Vikings (36): Neither offense did much in its opening game. Buffalo’s defense played well but the Vikings’ unit was yielding against San Francisco’s first and second string. The Vikes have more questions to answer in getting set for the season. Vikings.
Jaguars +6½ at Saints (39): Jacksonville has a developing QB competition between Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne which should result in more focus on the passing game. New Orleans should look to evaluate depth and hope to just stay healthy. Jaguars.
Raiders PK at Cards (no total): Oakland has several fewer days to rest and recover after playing Monday night. Arizona plays its first home game after a pair on the road and is better situated for successful play execution. Cardinals.
Giants +1 at Jets (36½): Although just an exhibition game, this one always draws hype in the nation’s top media market, heightened by the Jets and their utilization of Tim Tebow. The Giants have the more stable roster with their major concern development of running back depth. UNDER.
Chiefs +1 at Rams (35½): KC’s first and second units looked sharp in the win over Arizona. St. Louis’ offense needs more work and is likely to be the more aggressive of the two teams in that regard. Rams.
Redskins +1 at Bears (36): Washington coach Mike Shanahan continues to take these preseason games seriously and should give rookie RG III more experience at QB against a sound defense. Bears treated their opener as a scrimmage but starters should see more action here. OVER.
49ers +3 at Texans (36): Preseason Super Bowl preview? Perhaps as both teams are set at most positions and will seek to repeat last season’s trip to the Playoffs. Both teams were sharp in their openers. In this type of matchup the defense usually has the edge. UNDER.
Seahawks +2½ at Broncos (37½): Denver and QB Peyton Manning were very sharp in their win at Chicago. Seattle has a very competitive QB battle involving the trio of Matt Flynn, Tarvaris Jackson and rookie Russell Wilson. The Seahawks were very aggressive in their play-calling last week and should employ a similar approach here. Seahawks.
Cowboys NL at Chargers NT: Dallas is off a short week following Monday night’s game in Oakland and has serious offensive line issues to address especially at center. With the injury to Ryan Mathews, San Diego has to find capable replacements at RB. Offensive line play figures to be the primary focus of both teams. UNDER.
Colts +3½ at Steelers (37½): Indy rookie QB Luck steps up in class in facing an aggressive Pittsburgh defense which was not especially sharp in its opener at Philadelphia. Pittsburgh is looking to develop RB depth with starter Rashard Mendenhall’s status for the season opener still in question. UNDER.
Eagles +3 at Patriots (39): Another potential Super Bowl preview finds both teams well set to start the season. The Eagles may well rest QB Michael Vick after injuring his thumb in the opener but the offense was aggressive in the win over Pittsburgh, throwing 43 passes. The Pats treated New Orleans as little more than a scrimmage and may take a similar approach here. Eagles.